Have you ever said, “I wish God would just show me my future, so I know what to expect and how to plan”? I have said these exact words. Looking back over the last five years, I now understand the wisdom of why God didn’t provide me with the 30,000 foot view for The Covering House. It would have paralyzed me from acting.
As 2014 comes to a close, I want to open my heart up to you and share with you some of our challenges, successes, and initiatives for 2015.
Five years ago when my husband Greg and I founded The Covering House, I had no idea what to expect. I sat on my couch watching a documentary on sex trafficking of girls in the United States and knew I had to do something to fight this. At the age of 47, I didn’t want to make a name for myself or create the biggest organization, I just wanted to make a difference in my little corner of the world.
I didn’t need to know everything, I just needed to find people who knew what I didn’t know. I shared the need and the passion to help girls and so many people with vastly different backgrounds and skill sets stepped up to help.
While I have sat on nonprofit board of directors before, launching an organization of this magnitude was a greater challenge than I anticipated. I was naïve in many ways about all that it took to open a Long Term Therapeutic Home. Let me share some of our challenges.
- “No Problem Here”. People at first didn’t think this was a problem in our area. I took a meeting with anyone who would listen to me about this issue. Persistence paid off. We now know that St. Louis is in the top 20 cities in the country for trafficking.
- “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard). Everyone thought having a home for the girls would be wonderful, somewhere else. Yet again we kept our heads down and pushed forward and we were blessed with a beautiful home, owned by gracious landlords, and only have to pay $1.00 a year.
- Meeting all the State Licensing Standards. This entailed reading a large green book to make sure we didn’t miss anything when hiring, training, setting up the residence etc. I am a bit of a Nervous Nellie so I read it 4 times.
- Zoning and Fire Codes. This proved to be the greatest of challenge because state and local requirements are different yet we had to meet both. Let’s just say I know more about zoning laws and fire codes than I ever really wanted to know. I am also thankful to those who understand these codes and were willing to help us along the way.
- Turning Girls Away. Let me explain. Currently, The Covering House has only 5 beds. We have designated 2 of those beds for private placement. Private placement is when either a parent, the courts, or a juvenile officer refers to us. The good news about private placement is that these young girls will have a greater chance of success because they have not experienced institutionalization, and we can receive them quickly which means less chance of re-victimization. The challenge for The Covering House is that we now have to absorb all the costs for any girl that is placed with us outside of State custody.
A Few of The Covering House Successes
(Both In-Client and Out-Client Services)
- Opened our first Long Term Therapeutic Home
- Provided services to 15 clients taking our total to 33
- Provided 32 hours of Music Therapy
- Provided 456 hours of Individual Counseling
- Dedicated 108 hours to Court Advocacy for the girls
- Provided training to over 70 Foster Care Families
- Provided training to 900 St. Louis City Law Enforcement Officers
- Provided Community Education to 2,702 people
- Recruited 91 new volunteers to take our volunteer team to 150 people
- Became 1 of 15 agencies in the State of Missouri to receive the Champion for Children Tax Credits
- Partnership with Horace Mann Elementary for developing a Prevention Program for 4th- 6th graders (ages 9-12 years old). This is per the request from the principal of the school since they have had 4 girls already victims of sex trafficking.
- Partnership with Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital to establish best practices, train medical staff, and develop a Covering House medical home. We have already started the process.
- Development of a Foster Care Program in order to help a greater number of girls.
- Open an Emergency Crisis Home that will house girls for 72 hours to 30 days until assessment of needs can be conducted and best placement determined. (This will help keep law enforcement from taking girls to detention centers due to lack of resources)
Through this journey I have shed many tears, prayed earnestly for wisdom, and celebrated achievements. The Covering House team is incredible. Day in and day out they go above and beyond to insure that The Covering House moves forward to help girls. We are tired yet energized at the same time. We consider it an honor to serve these girls no matter how difficult.
The Covering House has come far in the past 5 years. The estimated 300,000 child victims in the United States are no longer a statistic to us, they have faces and hearts. They have fears and dreams. They giggle with the carefree innocence that every child should experience, yet they have to work through the very real trafficking trauma that NO child should experience.
We have set a goal of $120,000 for the month of December. We are so very close to reaching it. As the year closes, would you consider partnering with us financially so we can increase our services to other girls and the community? If you are interested in helping us reach our December goal, please click here.
Thank you in advance for your support. We truly could not help these girls without you.
Happy New Year.
Founder & Executive Direcctor