By Heather Bennett
The team at BeGenerous is grateful for the donations they received at their 2nd Annual Gathering in the Garden held at Point Washington Preserve Pavilion in November. The event helped bring awareness to BeGenerous’ efforts assisting victims and survivors of addiction and sex trafficking in our area, their vision for The Yellow House Project, and raise money for their operating expenses.
Currently BeGenerous does not have beds and supplies available and relies on a network to help assist these women in need. Stephanie McMinn, founder and director of BeGenerous, described their efforts as “doing the Yellow House Project without our yellow house,” which includes paying detox fees, travel expenses for relocation, deposits for other transition homes, and paying program fees to other recovery centers.
However, BeGenerous is praying for the love and support of the community this Christmas season to help them raise enough money for The Yellow House Project to purchase a property for their own home in Santa Rosa Beach. They are hoping to meet the deadline by the end of this year.
The Yellow House Project is transitional living for women recovering from addiction and abuse from sex trafficking. While in the home, the women will be a part of a 90-day Christ based program where they can receive counseling and start the healing process. There will be an option to stay long term up to 18 months if necessary.
“Now’s the time for the Yellow House to be established. To fill the gap, to be that bridge we need because so often what happens is, we have a woman we are working with and there’s no beds available.” Not having a safe place to go to make that transition is sometimes a life or death situation for these women.
It may come as a surprise to some, but addiction and sex trafficking are very prevalent in our area. Sex trafficking can include force and or coercion of a victim to be sexually exploited. Many times, at the hands of someone the victim knows. Familial sex trafficking is an example of this, where a child is exploited for the exchange of drugs, a place to live, or money. This is different from abuse because the trafficker is profiting from the victim.
Those who work in the sex industry are often victims of sex trafficking. There is a misconception that strippers and prostitutes have chosen their lifestyle, but often they are victims of deeply rooted trauma that stems from years of manipulation, coerced addiction, threats of violence against their family, and physical and emotional abuse endured by the victim. Many women in the area are being exploited in plain sight.
While there are great programs in the area to help women overcome their circumstances, there are not enough places to stay while in transition. “I’m traveling to Alabama, if not weekly, every other week, to relocate girls, and to get them to one of our partner programs,” said Stephanie. “We just really need to get a house as soon as possible. We have so many girls that need help.”
Stephanie has a bigger vision for the program, establishing a social enterprise as their income generating model to support operational expense and create a savings account for when the women transition out. The women will gain work skills, gain confidence and have money set aside to start over. Stephanie calls it, All Things New. “That’s what God does in us. He takes away the old and makes something new and beautiful,” said Stephanie. Women could garden, repurpose furniture, make pottery and fix jewelry. “We hope to be able to help them establish an income, a career, maybe even inspire them to start their own business.
The property they are hoping to raise enough money for The Yellow House Project has acreage for equine therapy, box gardens, a pond for devotion time, workshops, chicken pens, and land for more transitional homes. It has everything they would need. While this property in South Walton is $625,000, Stephanie’s faith doesn’t waiver. “The Lord led me to this house.”
BeGenerous is a 501C3 non-profit that relies on support from the community through donations. If you would like more information on how you can help with The Yellow House Project, and more about BeGenerous, please visit www.begenerousinc.org
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