Story by Lauren Sable Freiman | Jan 01, 2018
Photography by Anthony Jinson

The HALO Home provides a safe haven for our most vulnerable neighbors.

In January 2017, the HALO Jefferson City Home opened its doors to at-risk or homeless teenage girls and their babies in Jefferson City. The building formerly known as the Rickman Center is now a sanctuary for some of Jefferson City’s most vulnerable young women between the ages of 16 and 21 — a safe haven where they can learn life skills, harness their leadership abilities, heal from past trauma, and set goals for a bright future. The HALO Home is the new site of HALO’s Transitional Living Program, which has provided safe housing to 36 homeless teens and their babies since launching in 2014.

“Since I’ve moved into HALO, I’ve had more support, freedom, and ability to make my own choices than I have ever had before. I’ve been able to grow as a person and be independent. I’ve found a home here, and a family too.” – C

Under the caring watch of two on-site house moms, residents of the HALO Home are surrounded by support. They are frequently reminded that the things that have happened to them in their past are not their fault. They are required to be a full-time student or working, but the home’s partnerships with other organizations ensures that residents leave the two-year program prepared for an independent future. From changing sheets on a bed to meal preparation to applying for a job, the HALO Home focuses on developing strong, confident women in a safe, warm, and supportive environment.

“The HALO Home provided a safe and private place for me when I had nowhere else. They also made me very comfortable and gave me the support I needed when it was time for me to have my baby. The HALO family, on top of having a place for me and my baby to live, also supplies useful information to help us succeed in the real world and be able to live on our own. I’m so grateful to be a part of such an empowering program and so blessed to be able to call them my family.” – L

“HALO is heavy on partnerships,” says Rebecca Welsh, HALO’s founder. “We may not be the expert in a certain area, like child care, but we partner with agencies who are. If we didn’t have the partnerships, we couldn’t do what we do ourselves. There should be no ego in nonprofit and no barriers in partnerships. It’s one of those things that is essential to being an efficient organization and having the best outcomes for the youth.”

“HALO has had a big impact on me. It gave me a place to live, and I have a great support system. HALO is my second family. Before I came to HALO, I was a high school dropout. To be honest, if it wasn’t for HALO, I would have never gone back to school.”  – M

When a 17-year old, pregnant with twins, recently showed up at the HALO Home and knocked on the door, Crystal Burgan, HALO’s Jefferson City director, says they were able to move her right in.

“She had nowhere else to turn, she had nowhere else to go,” Burgan says. “She had two bags of her belongings with her. One was a trash bag and one was a laundry basket. She had been sleeping on couches.”

Within one week, HALO’s team had assessed their new resident’s needs and, with the help of the community, harnessed the things she needed to welcome two babies to the world.

“Our community has been generous enough to bring her in, shower her with love, have a baby shower for her and get her set so she doesn’t have to worry,” Burgan says. “We had two car seats donated, got her the medical attention she needed, took her grocery shopping, and got her in touch with services she is eligible for, like WIC. She doesn’t have to worry about what she shouldn’t have to worry about as a kid. We help take those worries away so she can focus on the things she needs to focus on.”

According to Welsh, news of the HALO Home is slowly spreading, and the HALO team is continuing outreach to social workers at hospitals and schools and those in touch with homeless youth in Jefferson City and surrounding areas. In addition to the two on-site house moms, the home has one additional full-time staff member, part-time staffers, and a female overnight security guard — all there to provide support and a feeling of safety to residents. A robust and dedicated team of volunteers also provides support to the residents.

Welsh says the HALO Home already has success stories, as several residents are currently working and supporting themselves. Feedback from residents includes sentiments like “I can’t thank [HALO] enough for everything you’ve done for me and my family. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for you,” and “I always feel welcome and know I can ask HALO for help if I need it.”

In an effort to honor the girls and their stories and raise additional funds for the HALO Home, the home will host the HALO Home Auction on Friday, March 2.

“This year, our goal is to raise $100,000 at the event, but more than anything, the goal is to honor the girls and allow them a place to share their stories if they want to,” Welsh says. “It’s hard to be in their position. We want them to look at the home as a leadership program instead of as a homeless shelter.”

The tented event will include cocktails, a tour of the home, and a silent auction complete with trips, entertainment packages, and more, with the money raised going to cover the basic needs of the home. Welsh says that, among fundraisers, the HALO Home Auction is special: inspiring and a lot of fun.

“We will honor the girls for all the hard work they’re doing. It is a super powerful night,” Welsh says. “Last year there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It is a lot of fun and it’s a beautiful night.”

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