Va. officials lend a hand to group home
A Northern Virginia group home received an early Christmas gift Tuesday -- in fact, lots of gifts.
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. dropped off a car load of pillows, sweaters, sheets and other necessities in preparation for next year's opening of Shae's Place, a group home for girls between the ages of 12 and 18 who are survivors of domestic sex trafficking. The home, scheduled to open by March 2011, would be the first of its kind in the metropolitan Washington area, said Samantha Healy Varaman, senior director of Shared Hope International, which is helping to fund Shae's Place.
The group home will provide "a structured home environment that [the girls] can grow up in, where people understand their needs," said Erin Neff, an assistant project manager with Courtney's House, which provides services and programs to help survivors of sex trafficking.
Officials with both agencies ask that their exact locations be given to protect the victims.
This would be the first home Courtney's House has opened. Neff said the organization is working to get the house ready while they await their licensing.
Volunteers from the community have been working to make the girls feel welcome. Churches, interior designers and other volunteers fixed up six bedrooms for the girls. Moran's staff members used their holiday party to collect donated items for the house after hearing Courtney's House founder and executive director, Tina Frundt, tell them about the girls in September, as well as her own story of being a sex trafficking victim.
Courtney House officials also have been working to raise money for the group home's opening and a reserve fund to make sure the house and its associated programming will be fiscally sound. "One of the worst things you can do is open a house like this and then have to close," Varaman said. "Finding a replacement home would be nearly impossible."
At least 100,000 juvenile females nationwide are lured into the world of sex trafficking each year, but there are only 100 beds in programs catering to them, Vardaman said.
Legislation to give six block grants of $2 million each to organizations like Courtney's House has been stalled in Congress.
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