By Natalie Bunn
Gracehaven Case Manager
As a Gracehaven Community Case Manager, my job is to meet with survivors wherever they are: at home, in foster care, in detention or other residential facilities. We meet weekly when we can, and help them with a variety of needs, everything from helping them shop for food or apply for a job to how to organize their time and money. Every client’s needs are different.
I’ve been working with “Sheila” for several months. Sheila is 19 and is currently serving time in a DYS facility. She was hesitant at first to share much about her trafficking experience. However, after she saw that I was going to be a consistent and trustworthy person in her life, she began to trust me and open up about the trauma she deals with. This is an important step in her therapy, and in helping her not fall back into trafficking once she is released.
At DYS, in addition to my weekly visits, Sheila has a mental health therapist, an alcohol and drug counselor, an art therapist and a case manager at DYS. And recently she was linked with a YFC mentor and a YFC volunteer who is helping to tutor her as she studies to earn her GED. It may seem like a lot of people, but so many of our survivors have experienced such complex trauma they need and respond to this level of involvement.
And it is beginning to reap benefits. Sheila shared with me recently that she is very encouraged by all of the support and wants to be a mentor to other girls in her facility and encourage them to make wise decisions that will help them succeed in life. She also is excited to learn more about God and having Bible studies with her mentor. She is not sure when she will be released, but whenever that is we will be with her in providing whatever needs she may have and helping guide her to make positive and productive life choices.