What Are You Going to do With Your Hands?
Treasured Vessels Foundation was founded in 2016 by Alicia Bush. She explained how this became her mission, “My husband went to a men’s breakfast where the speaker spoke about international human trafficking, which he was interested in learning more about because we are international missionaries. Then the speaker spoke about domestic sex trafficking…the speaker brought it all the way to our own backyard and began to share numbers, statistics and ages and the real issue we have here.” Alicia’s husband, Brandon Bush, brought home the pamphlet and Alicia said, “That was the day the seed was planted.”
It took a couple of years for Alicia to leave her career and follow what she felt the Lord was telling her. She said she focused on listening and investing in relationships. She listened to what people’s concerns were. While listening, she felt God was highlighting the industry of pornography and exploitation. She knew she was being called to do something but wasn’t exactly sure what that something would be. One night, Brandon said to Alicia, “What are you going to do with your hands? Are you going to dig a well? Are you going to build a school? What are you going to do with your hands?” She turned that question into a prayer. The very next morning she reports, “I sat straight up in bed and had a clear understanding of what I was to do. I was to build an after-care facility for girls rescued from sex-trafficking, locally. I had no idea that was a need.” She defines an after-care facility as a treatment center in which girls go to after the trauma of being sex-trafficked, where they could receive therapy in a residential setting.
Even though she knew this was what she felt led to do, she still wasn’t sure if it was a need. She called law enforcement and non-profit organizations asking where the girls were taken after the “bad guys were put in jail.” The answer, she said, “Was always the same. He or she is a runaway, we book them on a runaway charge. We are only allowed to keep them for 24 hours in the juvenile justice system.” When they were released, they either went back to the home they ran away from or back into the system such as a CPS foster care program. She found out that there was no place for the girls to go to get help in a residential form, if going home wasn’t an option.
Her idea was now substantiated, and she moved to the next step. Since Brandon is a builder and she has a background in health care, they set out to fill the gap for the North Texas girls who need assistance. She said, “It was obedience. God said do this. This is the special part of this, it wasn’t any creative idea of mine, it was really just getting to a place where I had a yes in my heart for whatever it was He was calling me to do.” In 2017, in Texas, 79,000 youth (up to age 24) were identified as being sex trafficked, this number has grown since then.
Treasured Vessels’ current project is to build a secure facility to house, rehabilitate, and shape a successful future for females ages 9-18 rescued from sex trafficking in the DFW area. (https://treasuredvesselsfoundation.org) The property, which is five acres on a 30 acre tract in North Texas, has been donated. The property is heavily treed and includes a body of water. Tiny homes (560 sq. ft.) will be built off-site and brought to the community. Each home will have four bedrooms, two baths and one community area and cost approximately $50K to build. There will eventually be 10 tiny homes in the community. There will be a community kitchen on the property as well as space for group therapy, individualized therapy, education/school, ropes courses and admin office. The staff will be awake 24/7. The only people sleeping on the property will be the children. The goal is to open the community, L’Abri Ranch (French word meaning ‘The shelter’), within the next 12 months. Funding for two homes is complete. Residents will stay between 18 – 36 months.
Alicia said the “sticks and bricks of things has been the easier part of the project.” They are working on becoming experts in their field and perfecting their program to understand the needs of these young ladies, and boys eventually. They are also forming relationships with government officials, CPS, CASA and other advocacy organizations. They are asking these experts what they need to offer in their community to serve the girls best. They are also focused on meeting the state’s requirements as it pertains to serving minors. Organizations, such as CPS juvenile justice department, homeless shelters for youth, substance and alcohol abuse centers, already serving North Texas, will refer girls to Trusted Vessels. It is a voluntary, not court-ordered facility.
Alicia said one of the key components of Treasured Vessels is educating people on the importance of the restoration piece of those who were sex trafficked.
Treasured Vessels Foundation is comprised of Alicia (full-time volunteer), two part-time paid staff, five board members and a little more than 100 volunteers.
Current needs include monetary donations. Future needs will include basic need items for the children. For more information on Treasured Vessels go to https://treasuredvesselsfoundation.org/ or find them on Facebook.