NEWBURY PARK, Calif. -- It was a special day for one Ventura County woman who grew up in the foster care system. A local non-profit surprised her with a car of her own.
It was a surprise that brought 19-year-old Keanna Carbajal to tears. On Friday, Carbajal thought she was on her way to pick up some gift cards from a non-profit, but instead she was handed keys to a car that she can now call her own.
“It feels unbelievable, like surreal,” said Carbajal. “It feels like I am dreaming. My heart is beating so fast and I am shaking.”
The Ventura County resident has come a long way since she was first placed in the foster care system at age two. She lived in 32 different homes growing up, but now she’s aged out, and is part of the Homes With Heart Ventura County's Independent Living Program.
“When she turned 18-years-old she moved into an apartment which is supervised independently and is navigating this world as an adult,” said Jaci Johnson, who is the Program Coordinator III at the Ventura County Human Services Agency. “She does get a little bit of an assistance, but it is not 100% to sustain herself.”
Nearly 200 young adults age out of the foster care system every month in California. One of the biggest barriers for them is transportation. Carbajal knows this first-hand.
“I actually just had to let go of a job because it was too much trying to get to and from work,” said Carbajal. “I just ended up letting the job go because I couldn’t handle the stress that it brought with trying to figure out how to get to work.”
“She has been Ubering,” said Johnson. “She was spending more money on Ubers than she was earning every week.”
A foster care non-profit known as James Storehouse reached out to the community to help Carbajal. Tara Weber and her family stepped up.
“My dad gave us the car several years ago for my teenage boys to learn how to drive and to go back and forth to school,” said Weber. “It was time for us to give up the car, and we could either sell it and we decided as a family that we wanted to share the blessing that we were given.”
“I actually feel like an adult,” said Carbajal. “You know I have my apartment, and I take care of myself and everything, but I didn’t have a car.”
Carbajal says this is a start to a new life.
“I am almost there, I am almost to the top,” said Carbajal. “I feel like I am going to be successful.
For more information on James Storehouse, click here.
Or you can vist HomeswithHeartVC.org/ilp