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Meet Georgie Smith of A Sense of Home in Hawthorne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Georgie Smith.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I received a call for help via social media from a foster youth who had aged-out of the system. Aged out means an individual who was in foster care, but were never adopted and reaches 18 or 21 and must then venture out into the world on their own. There are half a million youth in foster care in the US at any given point and about 10% “age out” each year. These young people make up 50% of the homeless population.

I did exactly what you would have done after I found this young man living off of the floor. I asked friends for their hand-me-down furniture and appliances. Within 24 hours, we had everything that was needed and we created a loving, warm, inspiring, truly beautiful home.

After that initial cry for help, multiply cries ensued. What I thought was a one off random act of kindness became a thing of every weekend with friends and new friends renting Uhauls to collect furniture and home goods and creating up to 4 homes every Sunday. And the nonprofit A Sense of Home was born.

5 + years later, we and we have created over 550 homes placing over 1,500 young people in beds – and we are ready to scale the A Sense of Home model across the country.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
ASOH was entirely unplanned. In responding to the request for help, I saw an opportunity for community to come together to be the change we seek. My random act of kindness became thousands of random acts of kindness. Not simply within the framework of ASOH but many who joined us in turn set up their own nonprofits wrote books and screenplays. Kindness begets more kindness. By simply sharing what we have too much of and our time, creates sustainable tenancy for others often overlooked or ignored. When we lift up one, we lift up all.It has been very organic and wonderful. But I had an enormous amount to learn as I went. It also takes a huge amount of energy, heart and grit. I never seem to have enough hours in the day. The work is physically demanding. On day one, I was renting Uhauls at 6am on a Sunday and sometimes I did not get home until midnight – after moving furniture all day. I broke my toe for the first time last week. That is my first accident. So, that’s pretty good.

It has most definitely been the most difficult, chalenging and rewarding experience of my life. Opening a nonprofit – typically is for those with a deep personal connection to the cause and/ or with vast amounts of experience and wealth. I had none of the above. I really believe in the phrase — build it and they will come. If you are authentic and hard working and advancing a solution to a need, the right people will show up at the right time.

Please tell us about A Sense of Home.
A Sense of Home is the first of its kind in the world. It is a nonprofit with a very unique model and it’s own custom built propriety software and App.

MISSION
A Sense of Home strives to prevent homelessness by creating first-ever homes for youth aging out of foster care with donated furniture and home goods. 50% of those struggling with homelessness are former foster youth. The homeless crisis can only end through prevention.

OUR WORK
There are between 20,000 – 35,000 youth “aging-out” of the foster care system each year. These are the most at risk at becoming homeless in America. Seven out of ten girls aging-out have children of their own. The next generation is at greatest risk of going into foster care. By pooling resources readily available in the community to create beautiful first homes, we change the trajectory of aged-out foster youth (and their own children). Whether they have already experienced homelessness or not, 99% of recipients of ASOH have been successful in maintaining their tenancy.

HOW
ASOH gathers the least recycled household items; furniture and home goods contributing to a greener environment. Returned products to furniture and home goods stores just like the items in one’s own home are often discarded. These quality items become a life-changing gift for former foster youth when installed lovingly by volunteers from the community; transforming the way the youth view themselves as well as those around them.

At the core of our work is the home creation. Empty walls, floors and rooms, once unlivable, are transformed into fully-furnished, functional and beautiful homes in less than two hours by a team of 12-24 volunteers. By sponsoring home creations businesses or families give back to the community while providing employees or family members a rewarding and life-changing team-building experience. ASOH not only eliminates the financial obstacles of furnishing a home but also improves the overall well-being of the recipient as well as society overall.

ASOH strives to create a physical home that is the embodiment of the dreams and unique personality of each youth (and their young family) to transform their experience of scarcity and survival to one of comfort and care. Youth who receive a home creation pay-it-forward by partaking as volunteers to create homes for other youth.

The ASOH model addresses two major social crises: homelessness and the environment and matches excess in consumer goods with those in need through a seamless process that adds value to every participant, at every step:

Business Partners
By collecting unwanted furniture, we engage businesses in the process of contributing to a greener environment while giving former foster youth opportunity at a fair shot at life.

Corporate Sponsors
By sponsoring home creations businesses give back to the community while providing employees a rewarding team-building experience.

Individual Volunteers
Our warehouse is where the donated furnishings are received, stored, and sorted ready to be delivered to home creations for youth. By giving us a helping hand in the warehouse volunteers enable us to get to more youth on our waitlist.

Individual Donors
The needs of each youth we serve are different and unique. We strive to provide each youth and every home creation everything that is needed for their specific circumstances. By donating money, individual donors fund specific needs for items (refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, etc.) that we don’t regularly receive from our corporate partners.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The entire community of LA has wrapped their arms around ASOH. You can see many supporters here https://asenseofhome.org/2019-backyard-bowl-gala/ and here https://asenseofhome.org/thank-you/
Since the outset — we have had the immense support of our Angel pillars, Ambassador Nicole Avant, Ted Sarandos, Jena King, Irena Medavoy, and Angel Vanguards Jennifer Stallone and Bui Simon. As well as co-founder AJ Vernet, founder, Melissa Goddard, the ASOH board, Charlotte & Gary Gilbert our advisory board (especially co-chair Anne Simonds and Cynthia Heard) , our staff, and all o thousands of remarkably loving volunteers. Thank you Peggy North and the team at Fire Creme, and Jamie Foxx, Quavo, Tyrese and the War & Treaty for making our first-ever gala possible (this past November).

Thank you @perfomancekitchen for providing much needed organic healthy meals, @ruggable for the warmth of area rugs, @casper for beds, all the linens and sweet dreams, @ashleyhomestore and @hopetodream_west for kids’ beds, Lamps Plus for light, @bleusalt for brand new fabulous wardrobe for all recipients @brookemahan for each week collecting donations of toys, and all in the #ASOH community who went out of their way to generously donate furniture during a pandemic. Thank you to our amazing volunteers this week who made the most beautiful home for Jazmine (seen here https://youtu.be/8byJeEq6hBY ) — @kaiagerber @camilamorrone, @lucilasola, @trustalexandra, @MicahMarcus. We appreciate the stunning efforts by each of you to make the magic happen and make this much-needed service possible. It is needed now more than ever. It takes a village. Thank you one and all. These raw testimonies — https://youtu.be/2XLe9RYpR4k — capture the impact of a stranger’s love. With much love and gratitude from the ASOH team xoxoxox

Pricing:

  • Sponsoring a home creation is a donation of $6k

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kaelan Barowsky

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