Here, we speak with Cynthia Butler, CEO/founder of Brandon’s Place, and Ashley Ogans, the nonprofit’s program director. Brandon’s Place, based in Gulfport, supports young adults who are aging out of foster care. Learn more and find ways to get involved at https://www.brandonsplacems.com.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OR MISSION OF BRANDON’S PLACE?
Our mission is to bridge the gap, through resources, education, necessary services and support, for those between the ages of 18-25 who are aging out of the foster care system along the Gulf Coast and need further support both personally and professionally as they transition into adulthood.
Participants will enter the program by completing an intake assessment that encompasses goals and needs, as well as case management to encourage progress and accountability. Our main goal at Brandon’s Place is to reduce the circumstantial risk factors through this program by providing free access to resources, life skills training and transitional process assistance.
HOW AND WHY DID BRANDON’S PLACE COME ABOUT? TELL US A BIT ABOUT ITS HISTORY.
Brandon’s Place has been a passion in the making for over 20 years and was established a year ago. After being a foster parent for 20 years and having a deep passion to help young adults, Cynthia wanted to create an environment to help foster youth thrive in our community after aging out of the system. She wanted the young adults to know they have support and a place they can come and seek assistance and resources when they have little to no support.
WHAT’S NEW AND EXCITING WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION?
In May, we hosted our first annual Foster Care Awareness Festival and Gala Fundraiser, raising over $3,000 through silent auctions and donations from the community to assist young adults aging out of foster care. We had amazing guest speakers who shared their empowering stories of overcoming trauma and not being a statistic of foster care by being resilient and not allowing the past to shape their future.
Coming up, Brandon’s Place will be seeking to collaborate and donate backpacks for back to school for youth in need in our community.
WHAT IMPACT DOES BRANDON’S PLACE MAKE ON THE COMMUNITY AND THE PEOPLE IT SERVES? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT INITIATIVES?
Our organization impacts the community by ensuring our young adults can be a positive influence in the community after foster care and able to navigate life successfully — preventing them from suffering through addiction, homelessness, suicide, mental health issues or sex trafficking.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT THING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR GAINED THROUGH BRANDON’S PLACE?
We have learned that a lot of young adults need support and guidance, after leaving foster care, and without the support of the community and programs like Brandon’s Place, they are at risk of falling through the cracks.