February’s Spotlight: Survivors of Torture Recovery Center

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This month your donation will provide much needed mental health counseling and support services for refugee survivors of torture.

Since 2013, The Survivors of Torture Recovery Center (STRC) in is the only federally funded program in Kentucky supporting refugees who have survived torture in their home countries and are now rebuilding their lives. Located in a wing of Americana World Community Center, the STRC provides holistic, integrated, individualized care consisting of free mental health counseling and psychiatric services, medical care and social service coordination, case management, as well as legal service referrals.

Over the past five years, the STRC has served over 300 torture survivors from countries as diverse as Iraq, Bhutan, Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Colombia, Bosnia and Mexico.

With your support, we can help torture survivors recover from their traumatic experiences and go on to lead fulfilling, dignified and productive lives such as Esperanza.

Esperanza grew up to be a nurse in Colombia, South America. She and her 15-year-old daughter Marisol lived an active, happy life, surrounded by family and friends. Because of her profession, a paramilitary group targeted her. Men in uniform came to her home, pointed guns at her and her Marisol’s’ heads and threatened them with death if they did not cooperate. One of the soldiers held Marisol at home while Esperanza was blindfolded and taken to an old house in another part of the city. Once there, the other soldiers forced her at gunpoint to provide medical care to injured members of the paramilitary group. 

Esperanza was kidnapped ten times over a seven-month period. Each time the soldiers held her between eight hours and three days. Regardless of the length of time they held her, she worked around the clock. The soldiers did not allow her to eat, sleep, drink or use the restroom. Because the kidnappers threatened to kill her daughter if she told anyone, she had to suffer this horrific treatment in silence. After escaping to the United States, Esperanza found her way to Louisville and to the STRC. With this support, Esperanza currently feels safe and unafraid, and now has hope for the future.  

There are more than 1,500 people who live in Louisville who are victims or torture, and STRC is the only organization that supports these individuals through expert care and specific trauma-informed programming. The funding we receive is not enough to meet all the survivor of torture needs in Louisville, and with federal funding being threatened, it’s imperative that we come together to ensure the future of this programming.

The STRC also needs volunteers to provide mental health services and case management services. Please contact Jim Guinn, STRC Sustainability Coordinator at 502.852.7968 or via email at james.guinn@louisville.edu.

January’s Spotlight: Coalition for the Homeless’s Host Home Project

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This month your donation will provide compassionate, stable, temporary housing to homeless young adults. This pilot program is specific to a need in Louisville that we are coming together to address. More than 800 people under age 24 (who are unaccompanied by an adult) experience homelessness in our city each year.

Think back on when you were juggling your first job, your first rent payment and all the things that come with those new responsibilities. It’s not an easy time for anybody, but what if you never had anyone advocate for your best choices? Or you’re finally able to leave a situation of domestic abuse, but have nothing to start with? Or you leave the foster system because you’re 18 and independent, but "you don't have enough experience for an entry level position"?

This group of young adults who find themselves homeless are often forgotten, slipping through the cracks of the system. And we are trying to do something about it. The Coalition is partnering with Home of the Innocents to launch this innovative program to help end youth homelessness in Louisville.

“We vow to end youth homelessness by 2020. We know that is a tall order, and it will take all of us to make this bold vision a reality. That’s why the Host Homes project is so important!” says Melissa Kratzer with the Coalition for the Homeless.

Host Homes gives ordinary people like you and me a chance to step up and make an extraordinary difference in the life of a young person. Instead of sleeping on the streets, in emergency shelter, on yet another friend’s couch, in their car – or worse yet, being trafficked or engaging in survival sex – young people will have a stable home base with a caring local family or individual. With support for both the host and the young person, these temporary homes with the combination of mentorship can be the difference between homelessness and a successful integration into adulthood.

Instead of worrying where they will sleep, what they will eat, how they’ll keep warm during the day, and where they’ll keep their stuff, they can concentrate on gaining work experience, financial aid, or developing technical skills.

They can begin to work on their long-term goals – re-building relationships with family, college, raising their children, maintaining a steady job. In addition to having a professional case manager to help them get into permanent housing, they will have a stable adult to support them, encourage them, and look them in the eye and tell them how awesome they are.

We think this project is pretty amazing, and *you* can help make it a success by making a donation. (That’s how this stuff works!)

Or you can be a superhero and learn more about being a volunteer host home by contacting Melissa Kratzer at mkratzer@louhomeless.org or 502-636-9550 ext. 213.

Yeah! Let’s take care of each other!

Welcome to Cairn

Written by Clare Rutz

My entire professional life has been built on failures. When I first got going I thought I was going to fix our country’s educational system. Then I taught public school in New York City for a quick second and realized only God himself could take on that task. Then, as many twenty-somethings do, I figured I would take a stab at global poverty. I vetted, visited, and temporarily helped small non-profits across Asia, but I was only as good as my commitment and, at 22, I still wanted to be important. So I moved to D.C. because that’s where important people move. In no time at all I figured out that theoretical work in a cubicle wasn’t really my cup of tea either.

The Peace Corps was my answer and in many ways it still is. My two and a half years in Senegal turned me upside down and inside out. And it was an uncomfortable process.  

First, I learned that I will never be a capable farmer no matter how much Wendell Berry I read. Then, I learned that I am no one’s savior. I learned that the good work I always wanted to do is done through trust and understanding and, therefore, relationship. I learned there are certain people in this world who are selfless, champions of love, but they are rarely noticed. And as much as I want to be that kind of person, I may not have it in me, but I can find them, be near them, support and love them.

So when asked, What good can we do? I look to my failures to point me in the right direction.

Cairn is an opportunity to turn a small donation into something far greater. Your donation stands for action steps and starting local and taking care of our neighbors in a very real way. It stands for collaborative effort and community support. It’s telling those who don’t often hear it that we are grateful they share our home, both the served and those who are serving.

Thank you for being a part of this community.