Do South Cares

WORDS: Catherine Frederick with Lauren Pruitt, Director of Development, GetREALU, A Program of Fort Smith Children’s Shelter

Sep 1, 2023 | Featured, Nonprofits

GetREALU seeks to create a safe and stable environment where at-risk youth who are aging out of foster care or have become homeless learn the fundamentals of adulthood to empower them to overcome the cycle of dysfunction.

Who does GetREALU serve and in what ways?
We serve youth in the state of Arkansas, ages 18-21, in the process of aging out of foster care. In 2021, we raised funds to help local non-DHS youth in crisis. Many times, these teens had once been in foster care but were placed back with a family member and later ended up homeless. In total, GetREALU serves 19 young adults.

What specific needs in the community does this program address?
We equip kids who have been in foster care their entire life with tools they need to survive as adults. Sebastian County has one of the highest foster care populations in the state, and Fort Smith has a large homeless population. We recognized the need to expand the non-DHS side of our program to help teens break the cycle of homelessness.

How long has GetREALU served the community?
GetREAL was founded by the Children’s Shelter Foundation in 2016 after watching young kids that had stayed in the former Children’s Emergency Shelter, sign themselves out of DHS care on their 18th birthday. They longed for freedom from the system, but didn’t have families to return to, skills to survive, or money to pay bills. A feasibility study determined the GetREAL program was needed, so the Children’s Shelter purchased a 24-unit apartment complex adjacent to the former shelter for housing.

Are there any upcoming events our readers should know about?
Yes! The 10th anniversary of our fundraiser, Havana Nights, is Friday, October 6 at The Bakery District! Havana Nights is a casual, Cuban-themed event for all to attend. Guests are encouraged to wear tropical attire, flip-flops, & fedoras! We will have a Cuban cuisine buffet, bourbon tasting, Winston’s cigar lounge, LIVE & silent auction, and an after party with a live band! Proceeds benefit the Children’s Shelter Foundation and GetREALU. For tickets visit!

What else should our readers know about GetREALU?
The REAL in GetREALU is an acronym for Restorative, Empowering, Aspiring, Living. We Restore brokenness in the lives of young adults who grown up in foster care. We Empower young adults aging out or facing homelessness to find their true potential to overcome adversity. We Aspire our members to become educated by attending college, vocational school, or a career choice to support them after state funding ends on their 21st birthday. Our young adults are Living in a community that understands their trauma and helps navigate healthy relationships and a path to success. We have a long waiting list of youth in crisis who have applied to our program. We seek to build a new “Commons” building on our campus to house fifteen additional young adults plus a resident assistant. It is a great honor to be able to serve this population and we want to equip the future generation with hope, healing, and guidance so they can break the cycle and find their place in society.

3015 South 14th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Do South Magazine

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