MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Young women aging out of the foster care system face obstacles that could mean the difference between life and death.
- 60% of young women who age out of foster care end up in the sex industry.
- 70% will become pregnant before the age of 21.
- 20% will become homeless.
- More than 50% will be unemployed.
Source: National Youth in Transition Database in Texas & Basin Dream Center
Tina Gillihan, the founder and executive director of the Basin Dream Center for Orphans, is on a mission to help young ladies ages 17 to 24 who are aging out, or teenage girls who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, get the support they need.
Gillihan, a mother of three biological children and an experienced foster parent, has helped 28 girls since the Center opened in 2017. The free program is designed to help girls for up to two years.
They provide room and board, supportive programs, employment training, trauma-focused therapy, and any additional training or education they need to become independent adults. They even cover how to cook and keep the kitchen clean.
The program even helps girls learn how to go to the grocery store. It may seem like common knowledge, but there are so many unknowns for young girls in the program.
“We take them individually because there are so many questions, and some girls are overwhelmed because they’ve never had a chance to go grocery shopping. One girl, in particular, lived with her grandmother down the street from the grocery store. The only time she remembers being in the grocery store as a child is going up and down the aisles, taking things out, and eating them because she was hungry. Then she would leave. For her to have a proper view of a grocery store, how that works, and picking out the things you like, staying on budget and checking out can be exciting, but sometimes a trigger for some girls.”Tina Gillihan, the founder and executive director, Basin Dream Center for Orphans
Tina says you’ll always see snacks in the dining room, fresh fruit in the baskets, and food in the pantry working with local food banks to make sure it’s always stocked.
“Food is a big trigger; a lot of girls spent their childhood hungry and never had a lot to eat. Some girls don’t know how to open a can. Once we get past some of those things and really work with those triggers, they enjoy trying new foods, cooking fresh foods, and be very grateful and appreciated that food is always available.”Tina Gillihan, the founder and executive director, Basin Dream Center for Orphans
With the United Way of Midland’s help and its innovative grant, Gillihan has been able to get new mattresses and finish reconstruction this summer for a special room dedicated just to the high school residents.
“Most of the students that come to us haven’t slept on a bed in years or at all. They’ve slept on the floors or maybe on one mattress with their whole family. Or on couches or even living in cars. So a mattress is really important and blankets. We’ve had girls in tears because they had a blanket to sleep with, and one of our students only had a towel to sleep with.”Tina Gillihan, the founder and executive director, Basin Dream Center for Orphans
If you are interested in volunteering, Gillihan shares how you can help.
In the future, she hopes that one day she can expand her program to help the young men aging out of foster care as well. “90 percent of men on death-row have experienced foster care in life,” said Gillihan.
If you want another fun way to help organizations like this, United Way of Midland hosts their first Virtual Power of the Purse event.