Over the next few blog posts we'll share a little bit more personally from these passion-filled people who are giving and working to bring a hope and a future to aging out foster youth.
Meet Christina Dronen
Yep, it's me, the writer of this blog, the founder of the organization, the (could be more recent photo) face of the social media.
I came up with a list of questions for each one of us to answer. Honestly, I wish I'd been thinking more about having to answer them myself when I wrote them, but here goes anyway. :)
What do you do at Finally Family Homes?
I am the founder & executive director. What that means is I did all the work of forming it and lead the way as we continue to work towards meeting the goals of our organization. I wear other hats, but these are the biggest.
What do you do for work?
I take care of my 3 young kids, household, write 2 blogs, and run Finally Family Homes. My other website is for my books / Bible studies, "Parenting in Christ."
I decided to have kids because I liked the idea of having a family, especially as I get older. I never ever dreamed of starting or running a nonprofit until about a year before I did. I never thought of becoming a writer either until right before I did. I worked (after babysitting and many high school, college, and summer jobs) as a software developer then transitioned into systems analysis. I got a degree in Spanish with a theater minor before getting my computer science degree. I started to get my masters in Missiology, which would probably come in handy now, as it turns out.
I had an ongoing desire over the years to do acting. So I pursued that for a long time (that’s what brought me to Los Angeles). I did acting, improv, and stand up comedy for many years before my heart was moved to help the homeless. Living in Los Angeles brought homelessness to the forefront of my attention. Going to Pacific Crossroads I learned how to help and also learned about caring for foster kids. I have a good friend who invited me to volunteer with her at a Young Lives group for foster girls who were pregnant or had babies and lived at a group home.
Aging out foster kids is where foster children and homelessness sadly come to together. So you could say I was kind of cultivated into working in this area. The mission trip I went on to Kyrgyzstan with the church kind of cemented the vision – I got to see and know the difference that having a loving Christian community and an everlasting Hope in a Father who is always near had on these orphan girls in Kyrgyzstan.
As far as the writing goes, it really was something impressed upon my heart, once again at church. At first I started writing for myself. Then I decided to try sharing it to see if it could be helpful or encouraging to others and it seemed to be. So I published my first Bible study discussion guide in 2017, the same year I formed Finally Family Homes. Publishing leads to marketing which leads to blogging which leads to social media marketing. So that’s how I ended up down that rabbit hole.
What do you do for fun?
I love going on walks and hikes in nature. I'm a fan of camping and traveling (mostly not with kids). I love yoga. I like a good sci fi movie – especially if it has elements of comedy (Yay, Marvel). I love being involved in moms groups, church, and socializing.
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Peppermint (with the candies), hands down. And it’s only available seasonally. I would feel better if it didn’t have the artificial colors though.
What skill would you like to master?
Being a good hostess. I love the idea of having people over, but I hate the logistics – the cleaning before and after, the figuring out enough space, the running around taking care of things. I just like the hanging out and chatting part. Maybe I just need to master hiring a party planner.
That’s a hard one. It depends on who I am with (kids, for one)… Playa Vista is a pretty neat area. I really like the landscaping – wandering around with kids on the little paths or going on walks. And there’s so many great restaurants and coffee places. I wouldn’t want to live there because I need more space and a yard but I love to visit.
How did you find out about foster kids aging out and the struggles they face?
It started at Pacific Crossroads & especially their Invisibles campaign and “All In” orphan care class. But honestly, I’ve learned the most doing my own research. I don’t think the problem gets anywhere near enough attention.
Describe your life when you turned 18.
I was living at home finishing my senior year of high school and getting ready for college. I was still applying and didn’t know where I was going to go yet. I was also very involved in track (400 m dash / relay mostly) and working some at a buffet making $4.25/hr. I believe I was also still involved in teaching Sunday school then too.
Who was your biggest supporter when you turned 18?
My biggest supporter – hard to say.. I really had many. I had encouraging coaches, teachers, even my neighbors were supportive in their own ways, and my parents.
At this point I wanted to be either an astronomer or a marine biologist. All the Universities I looked at had to have at least one of those programs, but ideally both. So of course I started off college with organic chemistry, callus, and physics. No worries though, they all counted towards general ed in the end, (sigh).
What makes you excited about / want to be involved with finally family homes?
The thing I’m most excited about is the relationships with the kids. I’ve mentored / “adopted” young adults before and truly enjoyed it. Second, I’m excited to do something about the foster care, homelessness, and human trafficking crises.
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
“Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13
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