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Mentor program helps kids who age out of foster care

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 07:52:33-04

CLEVELAND — Michaelanna Bittel aged out of foster care when she turned 18.

"I was only in custody for a year and four months, but I really realized how impactful not having an actual family is," said Bittel.

She reached out for a little extra support and Kira Karabanovs answered the call.

"I know how much I rely on my family and the support, so anything we can do to help Michealanna get to the next level, its just why we're here," said Karabanovs.

Both of these ladies are part of Community of Hope. Every week Bittel meets with Karabanovs and five other mentors who have become more like family.

"I'm just able to talk about things that my friends usually don't understand, so sometimes it kind of like a therapy session sometimes." said Bittel.

Amber Donovan is the executive director at Community of Hope. She says kids who age out of foster care face unique challenges.

"We want young people to have people in their life that they trust when they want to buy a car or rent a new apartment or they need to move," said Donovan.

Every year 120 kids in Cuyahoga County, 1,000 kids in Ohio, and 23,000 across the country age out of foster care.

Bittel is now a sophomore at Cleveland State, she's one of the success stories, but it truly does take a village.

"I can't imagine going through life alone," she said.

Community of Hope is always looking for volunteers. For more information click here.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.