Each year, thousands of teenagers face an overwhelming obstacle. Their foster care has just ended and they abruptly enter a new world of adulthood. Many are unprepared, without a place to live, and without a plan. This needs to change. These kids cannot be forgotten.
The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay brought area leaders together for a better solution. A year-long study showed these kids need more than just financial support. They need life coaching, compassion, and advocacy. Ready For Life was formed, dedicating resources and time to the foster youth (ages 15 – 23), affording them everything they need. Since 2007, Ready For Life has helped over 400 foster youth transition to adulthood where one by one their stories change from hopeless to inspirational.
Shadai Raul was a foster youth who had been through the unimaginable. After a life in and out of the system, stints in juvenile detention, an addiction to crack cocaine, and living on the street when there were no other options, she was alone. At 17 she was arrested and hit her breaking point. There was no place left to go when she was given one more opportunity. This new foster family gave her exactly what she needed — love and support.
Shadai was introduced to Ready For Life. It was a new, non-judgmental mentorship that brought out her inner strength and showed her what she was capable of. They became her extended family, doing everything a parent would do for a child. Every decision Shadai made from that point on was a milestone. She finished her degree, accepted a job with Ready For Life, and was honored with a position on the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Board where she oversees improvements in the Foster Care system. She is now one of the most successful 23-year-olds you will ever meet.