AARP Eye Center
“I saw that today's youth and older people were divided emotionally, physically and socially, and I believed that each was missing exciting opportunities to learn and share.”
As a social worker in Philadelphia years ago, Juanita Suber became keenly aware of the challenges young adults face when they age out of the foster care system. For many, turning 18 is an exciting milestone as they gain the right to vote, graduate from high school and perhaps go off to college or get a full-time job. But these opportunities aren’t always available to young adults when they suddenly lose a place to call home, as well as vital financial and emotional support after their 18th birthdays. “These young people must make the transition to self-sufficiency without the necessary skills or support to become financially independent, socially connected and engaged adults,” Suber says.
So it’s not surprising that by age 21, 26 percent of young adults who’d been in foster care have spent some time homeless, and 25 percent have given birth to or fathered a child during the previous two years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A third of these young adults don’t earn a high school diploma or GED. Many struggle with substance abuse and live in poverty, and a high percentage have a history of incarceration.
Suber saw these unfortunate patterns playing out again and again and wanted to help. But she filed away this goal while working in Philadelphia to help low-income youth and older adults gain better access to housing, economic resources and other life-changing services through Golden Generations, a nonprofit she co-founded in 1993 with longtime friend Valerie Colquitt Wright.