Caring Corner: Raise My Head Foundation
For most people, having our own space and job is simply a formality of life that we take for granted. For victims of sex trafficking, however, it’s a sign of a brand new start. The idea is not lost on Vicki Bond, the founding director of the Raise My Head Foundation, a local two-year residential program designed to help rehabilitate victims of trafficking, addiction, and homelessness.
It all started in 2014, when Bond took a trip with friends to visit an organization in Nashville that was helping trafficking victims. Upon her return, she went right to work to see what types of programs were available in Wichita.
“I started calling everyone I could and noticed that there were a lot of programs in Wichita that were helping with addiction and homelessness, but nothing that offered the kind of long-term support for trafficking victims that I was looking to start,” Bond said.
Bond then founded Raise My Head with the mission of providing a safe residence away from damaging influences related to a woman’s previous life. Support services are provided with the intention of giving the women an opportunity for healing, growth, and transformation to successfully reintegrate into the community.
The home, which was purchased in 2015, was furnished completely through donations and the organization does not accept any federal or state grants, relying solely on private donations and community fundraising
The program offers residence to women ages 18 up who have been drug-free for at least 90 days and have a proven history of trafficking. Residents of the home can expect to graduate from the program in two years.
Raise My Head Foundation has collaborated with The Women’s Recovery Center and the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center to offer services including therapies in anger management, conflict resolution, addiction, health care services and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additional services of GED completion and life skills are offered by outside programs or volunteers. Two current residents were also offered full scholarships to Wichita State University pending completion of an entry level class.
While Raise My Head values the community’s unwavering involvement, the true magic of the organization comes through the fostering of peer support by the residents of the home.
“It’s just a big sisterhood,” says Bond. “It is very nurturing to the soul if you’re going through a journey with women that are in a similar situation. They help each other and it’s a very organic relationship.”
Raise My Head also prides themselves in community involvement and activism. They hold rallies twice a year to engage not only their volunteer base, but also to provide a platform in order to communicate with other organizations helping serve the Wichita community. This includes the Wichita Police Department, where officers last month spoke at a rally about the ongoing progress of the Broadway Street Corridor. The four-year grant by the government provides $875,000 to fund 7 officers to help increase the police presence in the community and reduce a variety of crimes including solicitation.
The sky is the limit for the future of the Raise My Head Foundation, whose short term goals including capitalizing on their Cottage Industry Team, which looks to manufacture a product that is survivor driven in the next year.
“The goal is to provide these women with two years of housing, and then give them the skills to go out and run a business of their own,” said Bond.
When asked what makes Raise My Head so successful, Bond pointed to the residents of the house.
“When you feel like life is completely hopeless, this place will renew your hope”, says Kristi, the first resident of Raise My Head Foundation when referring to her time in the program. “It’s a brand new start and provides us with freedom and healing to grow as women.”
In a world where second chances are sometimes hard to come by, Raise My Head is proving that love is the most powerful force for change.
Boots and Barrels Gala
Raise My Head’s signature fundraising event, Boots and Barrels Gala, which will be held on Friday, September 29th at Fulton Valley Farms. You can register by visiting www.raisemyhead.org or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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