Casa Valentina was established in 2006 by a group of concerned women who wanted to find a way to address the immense challenges faced by young women who were “at-risk” or “age out” of foster care at 18 years old without being adopted or reunited with their families.
Lacking the life experience, financial stability and support they need to survive on their own, these youth face high risks of violence, prostitution, substance abuse, incarceration, pregnancy, domestic violence and homelessness.
Our five Founding Board members conducted numerous fund- and awareness-raising events to shine a light on these young women’s stories. The capstone was a November 2005 performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, which raised the seed money necessary to start our innovative and unique program.
Founding Board Members
After identifying the challenges faced by at-risk youth and former foster youth as a key issue facing our Miami community, our founding board members worked tirelessly to establish a program to help these vulnerable young people. Established advocates for women, they came together through a shared commitment to changing the future for transitioning youth. Throughout 2005 and 2006, these extraordinary women led a grassroots awareness- and fund-raising effort that introduced thousands of people to the crisis facing young women exiting foster care or considered at-risk. We welcomed our first residents in October 2006. Our Founding Board Members have remained the driving force behind Casa Valentina’s success. From mulching the backyard, to providing governance, to baking cookies for events, these women make Casa Valentina successful day after day.
Susan became involved with Casa Valentina at the same time as her own daughters were transitioning into adulthood. She could not imagine the difficulties faced by at-risk youth and youth exiting the foster care system and wanted to help develop supportive programming and housing alternatives for them. Additionally, she has spent the last 30 years as a counselor.