Since 2004, Angel Reach has been taking strides to help a Montgomery County demographic which is often not considered when discussing foster care.
Jean Radach, the executive director for the nonprofit organization, said the mission of the group has been to help young adults who age out of foster programs.
The founders, Sandra Carpenter and Deborah Zempel, initially created the organization to help family members who were granted custody of children from Child Protective Services in order to maintain a family connection.
“She was a foster parent herself,” Radach said. “She saw the needs of [foster] families. She started in her garage by collecting cans of food, and people would donate clothes. It just continued to grow because the need was there. That became our Kinship Program.”
Since then, Angel Reach has developed a variety of other programs focusing on young adults who are aging out of the foster care system.
“Once they turn 18, they do not have a place to go,” Radach said. “Statistics show about 50 percent of those who age out of the foster care system end up homeless.”
Although it is located in Conroe, Radach said Angel Reach helps clients from all over the county. In The Woodlands area, she said the organization sees clients from The Woodlands High School, Oak Ridge North and College Park High School. Two current clients from The Woodlands area were taken in when they were 17, and both have been living at Angel Reach for about four years, she said.
Seeing the need in Montgomery County, Angel Reach now offers programs to provide clients with a temporary shelter and a community youth outreach center to help clients get the necessary education, training and life skills they need to become self-sufficient. Clients who live at Angel Reach are required to be employed and receiving an education through school or vocational training.
The most recent addition to the organization, Angels Loft, is a furniture store which focuses on getting hands-on work experience and training for clients. Angels Loft is a partnership between Angel Reach and Leadership Montgomery Class of 2019, which provides leadership training in the county. The furniture store is slated for a grand opening April 13.
Radach said the needs of foster children aging out of the system are still a concern in the area.
“The numbers are growing. CPS is really struggling. … They are doing a lot to get a grip on what is going on,” she said.
Despite seeing higher numbers of children and young adults needing to be in foster care, Radach said Angel Reach is seeing more success with clients getting their driver’s licenses, maintaining jobs and graduating from educational programs.
“I feel like what we’re doing is making a difference,” Radach said.