Since our founding in 2015, we have always dreamed of opening a restoration home for child survivors of sex trafficking. We have scrimped and saved and have finally hit the next major milestone!
Blanket Fort Hope OFFICIALLY owns 73 acres in Shelby County, AL!
Praise God for all of his goodness, and his blessings, and the people He has brought to us!
The Next Phase: Building A Home
With the purchase of 73 acres we are now positioned to move forward with plans to build a one-of-a-kind minor Restoration Home.
Given that there are fewer than 700 beds nationwide, and fewer than 25 beds proposed for Alabama in the next 2 years, we are stepping up to serve 9 child survivors in our Home, with the ability to expand that number with the construction of additional Therapeutic Foster Care Cottages.
Once this home is built, every child that steps through our door will receive the same care, regardless of background:
As a child begins to be restored, they will be moved into ongoing Therapeutic Foster Care, with access to Transitional Living Services, while always being able to take advantage of Blanket Fort Hope’s resources.
Construction is set to begin 2023 and is projected to cost around $1.2 million to fund the facility and first year staffing. Restoration costs for each child is estimated to be around $4,000 per month. Blanket Fort Hope is prayerfully entering into a season of fundraising, trusting that God and our community will compassionately respond to this urgent need.
“Children are the most common victims of human trafficking. Crisis centers are needed to provide hands-on, face to face help to those who are the most vulnerable in our state. This underserved group of victims desperately needs this help in Alabama.”
— Cam Ward (R), Alabama State Senator.
A Mission Moving Forward
Now is the time for our Champions to be extra diligent. While we are incredibly grateful for God and his providence for bringing us here, we realize that there is so much more we have to do.
We have spent the last 5 years building key relationships in the non-profit, private, and public sectors. With support of partners like The Church at Brook Hills, Grace Klein Communities, Shelby County DHR, Big Oak Ranch, Southeastern Construction, Mills Pharmacy, and Shelby Pediatric Dentistry, and so many more, we have guaranteed that our mission is sustained through sound wisdom, keen insight, and heartfelt compassion for children.
But we also need supporters like you. Individuals who God is calling to help move us forward.
We will see this home built and every child restored!
You know the old adage often used when describing a person hiding from the truth? You might call them an ostrich. Because we all know that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when faced with danger.
Actually, that is a big old myth. Ostriches don’t actually bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger. I mean, have you seen the size of an ostrich? What possible good would it do for the huge bird to bury its rather small head, leaving the rest of him exposed? And how would it breathe? According to research, what looks like head burying is actually the momma Ostrich turning her eggs, which are buried in the sand.
However, there are animals who truly bury themselves in the sand to avoid unpleasantness. The striped pajama squid (actually a cuttlefish) buries its whole body in the sand to avoid predators and surprise its prey. There are types of spiders and lizards who also bury themselves. But not the Ostrich. That flightless bird got a bad rap!
Hey! I get it! It is so easy for us to bury our heads when faced with harsh, unpleasant or uncomfortable information. That type of truth challenges our feelings of safety. In our hearts we know we should listen and deal with unpleasant things. But it brings us such a feeling of unease. Unfortunately, not being aware of something doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. That is true of so many things in our lives. For example, racism, gender bias, the inequality of the class system and other hotbed issues go on whether we want to know or admit it.
The unpleasant truth I will focus on today is Child Maltreatment in the United States.
April was Child Abuse Awareness Month.
Child Abuse is one of those topics that we would rather not think about. We want to believe that children do not suffer like reported on the news. We want to believe the situations are exaggerated and that parents and other caregivers couldn’t possibly seriously harm their children. We would never even imagine doing the things we hear about to our children. And if we are honest, we share a common response when faced with hearing of the tragedy of others, to instinctually feel a tug of guilt and relief that the same is not happening to us.
I have experienced first hand, throughout my career, thousands of children who were victimized by the very adults who were supposed to nurture and protect them. Even after the abuse ends (usually from intervention or serious injury/death) the effects of that trauma seep into every aspect of their lives, causing major difficulties in daily functioning. I have often heard other family/community members say: “They will get over it when they get older.” That is such an uninformed and untrue statement. For, even after they become adults, the trauma can and often does affect them. Children who suffer abuse/neglect are more likely to use drugs, become incarcerated and even become abusive to their own children.
So, no, Child Abuse is not a pleasant things to be aware of.
But it exists.
And the victims are closer than you might think.
Rather than cause you secondary trauma by recounting specific abuse cases, I would like to share the impact of Child Abuse on the United States. This is how Child Abuse affects your family, even if you have never abused a child in your life.
6.6 million children are reported every year to the Child Welfare agencies for abuse/neglect investigations. 1 in 3 girls will be molested by the time they are 18 years of age. 1 in 6 boys will be molested by the time they reach the age of 19. In the United States of America, 4 to 6 children die from abuse every day, according the the CDC and Child Abuse National Report of 2014. In that same year, over 700,000 children were found to be indicated victims of abuse and neglect.
The CDC ACES project has studied Adverse Childhood experiences for decades and found multiple health/emotional/mental concerns with children who have been exposed to trauma in childhood. These concerns include: Illicit drug abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, depression and suicide. Other sexual concerns include: early sexual encounters, STDs, multiple sex partners, and unwanted pregnancies. When you read these concerns you might also be thinking of someone you know who exhibits some of these concerns. If you judged them harshly, does it change your mind at all to know that their behavior deficits manifested after they were victims of trauma?
Financially, the cost of child abuse affects all of us. Factor in the costs of Child Welfare agencies, judicial hearings, lost wages of parents, lost wages and mental health treatment of the victims, special educations and medical costs. The financial burden to every tax payer for Child Abuse tops 120 billion dollars. Additionally, children who were victims of abuse/neglect are 9 times more likely to end up in the prison system.
Again, I understand that the information is unpleasant to hear. But does it change your view knowing that child abuse in the United States affects you and your family? I hope so. Because then we can discuss how you and your tribe can contribute to the decrease of abuse in your community.
What can you do? Your actions are just a pebble in an ocean. True. But by taking action, that pebble could start a ripple effect that influenced others to throw in a pebble. Here are some things you can do to stem the tide of child abuse and neglect.
You can go on the CDC websites or Child Welfare sites to learn about how to spot child abuse
It is not always obvious to the naked eye. Sometimes children who are abused are withdrawn, but they could also be aggressive, acting out the hurt they feel inside. Make it your goal to learn about the signs of child abuse.
Violence can be reduced in families when parents have the resources necessary to cope with their crisis
Providing support groups for parents who are struggling in your community can help them to feel less isolated and without hope
Teachers who have children in their classes who exhibit signs of abuse such as acting out behavior or withdrawal can build a trusting relationship with the child and get the school counselor involved who might point the parents to community resources
Contribute to programs that offer economic support to struggling families or free programs
Get your church, mosque or other faith-based institution involved so that programs can be developed to offer resources to the families in your community that are at risk.
Write letters to legislators who control the state budget. Often Child Welfare agencies are woefully underfunded, which leads to high caseloads of social workers and less effective interventions. Write letters to editors, speak out when you can about the community responsibility to recognize and reach out to these victims. Raise awareness in your own circle of influence. Like the pebble, the ripples could extend exponentially.
Report Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect that a child in your community is being abused, call the state hotline and report the abuse. I have seen children who were killed by abuse. Later, people came forward, racked with guilt, who admitted that they often saw these children with bruises and injuries. It is easy to tell yourself that the child probably fell, or had some sort of accident. But the law says you only have to suspect (you don’t have to have proof) to make a report. Let the child welfare agency investigate.
I can’t, in good conscious say, “Don’t be an Ostrich” since I have debunked that analogy. But I can say, “Don’t be a striped pajama squid!” You can play a vital role in the reduction of child abuse/neglect in your community. Take the time, educate yourself and take some action! Start a Ripple! Be the Change you Wish to See in the World (Ghandi).
Starting this month, we will be holding a regular on-site dedication event. This is an opportunity to come out, see our property, pray with us, and help lay a foundation for our mission that is built on Christ, symbolized by a personalized prayer rock. Please feel free to invite champions in your circle that may be interested in our cause. This is a great opportunity to engage others and grow our outreach!
Date: April 30th, 2021
Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Where: 24809 AL-25, Columbiana, AL 35051
Details: Drinks and light snacks will be provided. If you would like to bring your own rock, be sure it is large and flat enough to write on, but small enough to easily carry.
The land is next to Cornerstone Christian School, right next to the two youth baseball fields. Parking is free, but we will be sharing the space with the school so be courteous!
We believe that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of all the church, and we want to make sure our king stays at the front of our mission. To help us remember this, we will provide every attendee with a rock and a sharpie so they may write a verse from scripture.
What will be done with the rocks?
Once we begin construction on the restoration center, we will integrate these rocks into the center itself. In this way, we will be able to remember where we came from and that we serve a great and mighty God.
Can I do anything to help with the event?
Yes, of course! These will be monthly gatherings. We encourage you to invite people who may have never heard of our mission to come out, experience who we are, and see what our future on this beautiful property looks like.
We need our champions to share our cause. One of the greatest things you can do is share our cause and our vision. Invite them to this event! Invite them to give generously! Invite them to champion with us for the 5,700 child sex trafficking survivors in Alabama every year!