Where do I go?

Chad Kaeb Profile
Article by Chad Kaeb
Development Director


A familiar voice was on the end of the other line.

"Yeah, Dalen, what's going on?" Jason had been spending time with him ever since Dalen left Gateway Woods last year. They usually met weekly to hang out together. God had been using this mentoring relationship to provide some stability and accountability in Dalen’s life. Having recently turned 18 and no longer a ward of the state, he had decided to move back in with his mom.

"Well…I need help. I just got home to my mom’s apartment and she’s gone. There’s an eviction notice. I’m not sure where to stay. I’ve been hanging out with my friend in his vehicle to keep out of the cold."

Unfortunately, Dalen’s story is far too common for many of the youth we serve at Gateway Woods. In fact, nationwide statistics show that 1 in 5 youth aging out of the foster care system instantly become homeless when they turn 18. What a rude awaking for a young adult without much support or many healthy relationships.

But what happens to kids like Dalen who don’t have people like Jason to turn to? If only there was a safe place for them to land while still being connected to the positive relationships they had developed in their time at Gateway Woods.

1 in 5 youth aging out of the foster care system instantly become homeless when they turn 18.

Kids like Dalen have compelled us to pursue WillowBridge: an apartment building for youth transitioning out of our residential or foster care programs who don’t have a stable place to land. These are the kids who, if they leave these programs without crucial support systems, are more vulnerable and susceptible to use drugs, be incarcerated, become homeless, or commit suicide.

Renovations started in March and it is our prayer to be able to open the WillowBridge apartments this summer. With the building being located in the heart of Grabill — just a mile east of Gateway Woods — we are able to keep these youth connected with a church, mentors, and jobs in a small, safe community. These connections, with the help of on-site staff, will provide both accountability and encouragement as they transition to independence.

Visit our website to learn how you can support kids like Dalen through the WillowBridge project by praying, giving, or volunteering.

Chad is currently the Development Director at Gateway Woods. He has also worked as a Houseparent.