When Hannah* was growing up in foster care, she felt unloved and alone. Then she started attending the Adorned In Grace Design Studio in Portland, Oregon and met Tina–the woman who would become her mentor–and her life began to change.
The Adorned In Grace Design Studio is the anti-trafficking component of Compassion Connect’s mission to unite churches in service to their most vulnerable neighbors. The Design Studio is a service model that relies on the passion of local lay leader volunteers who deeply care about loving on at-risk girls and preventing human trafficking.
“I’ve been a foster kid since I was nine, and I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, I felt like nobody cared about me. I didn’t care for school, I didn’t care where I was going to be the next year, I was just living by the moment. I didn’t care about my actions. I felt like nobody else cared so why should I? As soon as I went to the Design Studio I was welcomed with open arms. I felt like people actually cared about me,”’ Hannah shared.
She continued, “Two years later I decided that I wanted to run away. There were things going on in my foster home at the time and I felt really alone. The only person that I felt comfortable reaching out to was Tina, one of my mentors through Adorned In Grace. After that I went and lived with her. She became my foster mom, she jumped through everything and showed me that she cared even more. I went to live with her and I gained all these different people that I looked up to and that I knew cared for me, and I did a whole 360.”
Hannah’s life took a completely different turn because she saw for the first time that someone truly cared about her. However, it wasn’t only Hannah’s life that was changed.
With tears in her eyes, Tina told us recently about a text she received from Hannah on Mother’s Day. “I got a text from one of the girls on Mother’s Day, and she said, thank you for giving me hope when I didn’t have any…Thank you for giving me my voice back. Thank you for pushing me to be the greatest form of myself. YOU believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.”
That powerful moment led Tina to be part of a team of churches that started a new Design Studio location in the Clackamas, Oregon area last year with the hope of touching more young lives. “I just want the girls to feel that empowerment and have confidence and know that they have us mentors to back them up no matter what. [The Design Studio] is just a place where they can grow and I want to see that everywhere,” she said.
Although Compassion Connect began our anti-trafficking work in Oregon, we know that human trafficking happens daily around the country and that there are churches and individuals everywhere who are excited to live out their own Tina and Hannah stories. Our great joy is equipping passionate people from many different churches and backgrounds (and many different cities and states!) with the tools they need to pour into the lives of vulnerable girls so that they never fall prey to sexual exploitation.
Where do we go from here?
Have you ever wondered what you and your church can do to address the issue of human trafficking in your community, but you don’t know where to start and aren’t interested in recreating the wheel? Are you excited to collaborate with others but don’t know the first thing about getting a group of churches to work together? We founded Adorned in Grace in 2011, and have spent the last year pulling together all of our experiences so that other cities can go further than we have gone by learning from our victories and hard-learned lessons.
We are excited to announce the launch of the Adorned In Grace Toolkit which offers practical and thorough guidance for those who are passionate about rallying a group of churches in their city or neighborhood to prevent human trafficking.
Whether you’re a church leader, lay leader, or pastor, we’ve created our Adorned In Grace Toolkit for you, to help get you started on a journey that will impact the lives of the vulnerable young women in your neighborhood. Each toolkit shares what has worked for us in Portland, provides step by step planning instructions, and demonstrates how Jesus lovers can have an opportunity to serve using their unique gifts and talents!
Every toolkit purchase includes:
Step-by-step how-to manuals:
- How to plan an outreach event for at risk girls (Dress for FREEdom)
- How to launch a weekly mentoring program for at-risk girls (Design Studio)
Videos and publications:
- What Is A Dress for FREEdom Event?
- What Happens at an Adorned In Grace Design Studio?
- Promotional flyers and power points
- And more!
Volunteer training materials:
- Trafficking advocacy and red flags
- Small group facilitation
- Talking to kids about abuse
- Communicating with refugees and intercultural communication
- And more!
Forms and documents:
- Volunteer role descriptions & application
- Safety policies & procedures
- Media release form for minors
- And more!
You will learn:
- How to generate interest amongst local churches
- How to pick a location and identify the right girls to invite
- How to assemble a volunteer team
- How to structure your Design Studio with curriculum, activity ideas, etc.
- How to create a budget and identity innovative funding sources
Our hope is to be a guide and a resource for churches and individuals anywhere who are passionate about ending trafficking by providing tools that unite the Church to bring healing and hope to at-risk youth. We look forward to starting this journey with you!
Learn more about the Adorned In Grace toolkit on our website here.