On Tuesday, I traveled to Falls Church to honor an organization known as “Homestretch” on their receipt of a $500,000 earmark that will allow them to grow and expand operations in the area.
Established in 1990, Homestretch assists homeless families, in particular women and their children, fleeing both domestic violence and international trafficking.
The secret to Homestretch’s nearly 20 years of success is in its innovative approach. The comprehensive program is geared towards empowering women, helping survivors of domestic violence recover and rebuild– both psychologically and financially.
Through a range of services, from housing and financial counseling to psychotherapy and childcare, the group strives to help each client reach a point of self-sufficiency and quality living within two years. So far, more than 850 families and 2,000 children have been positively impacted through Homestretch.
I had the pleasure to visit again with one of their clients, Chanya, whom I first met last year. She and her beautiful children have come a long way since the terrors of trafficking and abuse brought them here.
In our conversation at the event Tuesday, Chanya recounted her struggle to regain self-sufficiency and confidence after she escaped from a human trafficking ring which took her from her homeland of Kenya to South America.
With Homestretch’s help, Chanya was able to obtain housing, enroll her children in school and is provided with assistance and information on a variety of day-to-day challenges new immigrants fleeing the horrors of human trafficking face. Today, Chanya is studying to be a nurse. She soon graduates from Homestretch’s two year program and will be on her way to achieving a highly productive, stable and I hope, much happier life in Northern Virginia.
While Chanya was fortunate to link up with Homestretch, where Christopher Fay and his staff work tirelessly to rebuild lives disrupted by inhuman brutality, the sad facts remain: each year, roughly 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States; as many as four million women will be violently assaulted by a partner or family member during this time period; one out of every four women will be physically assaulted or raped at some point in their life.
These numbers should serve as a wake up call to all of us and as a reminder of the important service groups like Homestretch provide those in crisis, right here, in our own community.