Mustapha Feika is one of six Upbring BeREAL participants living in affordable housing provided through a partnership between Upbring and Foundation Communities.
Permanency is the gold standard of the foster care system. But what does it mean?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines permanency as a legal, permanent family arrangement.
But permanency is more than an arrangement approved and bound by a judge. It is a feeling, and to define a feeling, we need to consult people like Mustapha Feika.
Mustapha spent most of his childhood bouncing between foster homes and shelters. Now 19 years old, Mustapha is uniquely qualified to define permanency within the foster system’s confines.
“Permanency to me means I have a safe, secure place where I feel welcome, and I’m part of a community that supports me,” Mustapha said.
Mustapha is experiencing the permanency that eluded him during his childhood, thanks to a new, strategic partnership between Upbring and Foundation Communities.
More than affordable housing
Foundation Communities is a nonprofit agency that offers affordable housing in Austin and across North Texas. Mustapha is one of six young adults in the Upbring BeREAL program who live in Foundation Communities housing units in Central Austin. These are high-quality, conveniently located apartments in an area of town where young people want to live.
The Upbring/Foundation Communities partnership is unique because Mustapha can stay in his apartment after he completes the BeREAL program, removing a potential disruption in his life.
He also benefits from on-site education, health and financial stability support services that help him build critical life skills and grow into an independent adult.
Strategic partnerships are an integral part of Upbring’s strategy to break the cycle of child abuse. By collaborating with agencies that have unique expertise, we fill service gaps and meet the spectrum of each child’s needs.
Murray Chanow, senior vice president of strategy and community engagement at Upbring, has a vision for the Foundation Communities partnership that is bigger than six Central Austin apartments.
“This partnership could serve as a model we can replicate in other parts of the state,” Murray said. “If we can offer these services to other young adults in our BeREAL program, we can take another step toward achieving our mission.”
One lived dream at a time
No longer worried about where he will sleep each night, Mustapha is focused on building a brighter future. Within a week of moving into his apartment, which a local church furnished, he landed a job at a nearby restaurant. Now, he’s saving his money so he can go back to college this summer.
An avid basketball fan, Mustapha admires professional player Steph Curry because of his faith and the positive message he delivers to kids. Mustapha hopes to follow Curry’s example by studying kinesiology and becoming a coach.
“Coaches are able to influence people. I want to share my love of God with children and adults through my passion for sports,” Mustapha said.
Mustapha also hopes to have a family someday, and his dreams for his children are simple: “My dream is for them to live their dreams.”
And that is how the cycle of child abuse is broken – one lived dream at a time.