Four years ago today, we received our first client into our long-term therapeutic home. I remember vividly meeting her at the door of the home with an engaging smile from ear to ear. “Beth” gave me a big hug. My awkwardness was apparent. I didn’t want to say the wrong things and make her feel uncomfortable. My conversation, at first, was superficial and strained. Did I mention that I brought Oreo Cookies…her favorite and mine too? When in doubt, bonding over cookies will work. As the night moved on, I became more comfortable talking with her. To be honest, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along the way is that our girls are no different than any other teenage girl. So, I decided to talk to her as if she was my own daughter. I relaxed…she relaxed. We took the time to get to know each other.
Over time, I learned more about her. She was more than her trauma. She had dreams. Beth wanted to be a nurse. She was a neat freak. Our house was spotless when she lived there. She loved Old Hollywood movies she especially loved Marilyn Monroe. Beth was our first graduate from the program. Her graduation theme was Old Hollywood. We had a red carpet for her to enter on, cameras were flashing, and a cardboard cut-out of Marilyn for photo opportunities. We celebrated Beth’s life and future.
Where is Beth now? She still lives in the St. Louis area. She graduated high school and attended college for a time. Due to lack of resources, she has put college on hold and now works a steady job. She continues to keep in touch with us especially–Sherrita Allen, our Program Director, who was Beth’s therapist. Beth volunteers with us, advocates for us, and even refers other victims of trafficking to us.
However, I don’t want to paint a picture of complete perfection. Like with many of our girls, the lack of a supportive home life can cause stress and complications to the healing process. Recently, Beth has found herself moving from friend’s home to friend’s home after her mom kicked her out of the house. Mom’s new partner and Beth didn’t really get along.
So…Beth has seen much success but she has also endured some setbacks. Life is messy for all of us, and it is especially messy for our girls who not only have to face the “normal” challenges of life but also have to navigate the trauma they have experienced daily.
God has allowed me to be a part of Beth’s journey and the journey of many other girls. To date, we have served 30 girls at our long-term therapeutic home and over 40 girls in our through our Community Based Services.
Over the next year, we will be in the process of expanding our services by opening another campus for victims of trafficking. Weekly referrals from law enforcement, children’s services, family courts, and parents only reinforce the knowledge that we are walking in the right direction.
As we move forward and grow, we cannot make this journey alone. We need commitments from people who feel this scourge on our children must stop. We need commitments from people who recognize that children are precious and should be a priority. We need commitments from people who know they have resources to give but for some reason have not yet given.
We need a commitment from you.
I am earnestly asking you to give to The Covering House and the healing of these girls.
We have a couple of opportunities for partnerships.
First, we have launched a new monthly giving program called the Quilt Square Society. By partnering with us through the Quilt Square Society, you will receive the staff or girls’ favorite monthly story, recipe, and recent educational outing with pictures. This will give you a behind the scenes look into the daily lives of our girls. The commitment can be as little as $5.00 a month.
Please check out this opportunity here – http://thecoveringhouse.org/
I know there are those reading this letter who have the ability to make a much larger commitment to The Covering House. I want to be able to sit with you over a cup of coffee and share with you more about our vision and how we are going to significantly help more children and adolescents abused through sex trafficking.
If you are interested in learning more about the mission and vision of The Covering House, please click here.
As I journey into this next phase with The Covering House, I find myself both excited about the possibilities of making a difference in the lives of kids and humbled by the trust of many who allow us to care for them. Not a day goes by, that I don’t recognize the responsibility that has been given to us. We never take for granted our job.
Deidre Lhamon Founder and Executive Director