HOUSTON, TX – Agape’ Children’s Emergency Shelter (ACES), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing human services to abused, neglected, and abandoned children, announces the opening of its new home in Katy, TX.
“This is a refuge that’s been six years in the making,” said CEO and founder Nicole Simmons. “Houston’s been ranked as a top human and sex trafficking center. Shelters are closing across the area. There’s an urgent need for what we’re doing and the services we offer are important now more than ever.”
The 5,000 square foot house—the first facility of its kinds for the organization—sits on 1.5 acres of residential land and provides a change of scenery often welcomed by its guests. “Some of the girls have been walking a scary path since birth, while others have taken a wrong turn and are looking for new directions,” says Simmons. “It is our goal to end their hurt, start the healing, and help them develop into healthy individuals who will be the foundation or our thriving community. Even though our organization is a temporary placement, we want to make their stay an informative and fulfilling experience.”
The process of developing the space began in 2012, at the time of the organization’s founding, when Simmons recognized a capacity crisis and urgent need for an all-girls, 24-hour emergency shelter. Since its inception, her nonprofit has partnered, supported, and collaborated with a number of area organizations to deploy their services. In 2016 alone, ACES served over 3,500 people, primarily through referrals, food drives, healthcare drives, and back-to-school drives. With the opening of the new space, ACES now delivers a full toolkit of programs to Houston area children including:
- Stepping Stones, a program for homeless, runaway, and/or human trafficking young girls aiming to reunifying them with their families (ages 13-17);
- Emergency Shelter and Basic Care, a program providing a short-term, safe, and stable environment for homeless young girls and teens (ages 8-17);
- Wings Transition to Independent Living, a combination of long-term shelter and life skills classes, case planning services, and counseling – all with the goal of providing homeless young girls the tools necessary to be successful on their own;
- The Lighthouse Aftercare, a program offering continued support to young girls that are no longer under ACES’ care, as well as to youth who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless (ages 15-21); and
- Mission IM’Possible, a “Duffels 4 Girls” program providing every girl in foster care or homeless shelter with a free duffel bag to call her own, even as they transition back to their biological parents or to another permanent family.
“Underlying everything we do is the belief that all girls should be treated with dignity and respect and when given the opportunity, are capable of making positive change in their lives and meaningful contributions to society,” states Simmons. “We help young girls discover their individual identity, tenacity, and creative gifts.”
Dedicated volunteers oversee all aspects of the organization. To meet operational needs, ACES invites area residents to contribute to the ongoing development of the new house and “join in the work of creating a safe community by providing youth with opportunities to build healthy, productive lives.” A current fundraising goal of $65,000 looks to advance the condition of the shelter’s exterior space and reinforce program budgets.
Individuals are also invited to make a difference by lending their time to the shelter. Volunteer applications are currently being accepted for a variety of roles including special events, mentorships, and general staffing. For more information, contact the Manager of Volunteer Services at 346.800.2237 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACES is formally licensed and registered with the State of Texas for children in protective custody, guardian placement for teens in crisis, and as a home for transition, runaway, and homeless youth. For more information visit agapechildrenservices.org. To contact their staff, or for urgent assistance, call 346.800.2237.
About Agape’ Children’s Emergency Shelter, Inc.
The mission of Agape’ Children’s Emergency Shelter (ACES) is to ensure that every young girl who wanders the streets alone or has no place to call home—whether it is because she has been abused or neglected, is a runaway, has been a victim of trafficking, or is homeless for whatever reason—has a safe place to stay where she can be sheltered, fed, and have access to the resources she needs to build a positive future for herself.
Our goal is to:
- Provide a safe haven for abused, neglected and abandoned children;
- Foster well-being, character building and self-esteem; and
- Raise awareness of the growing disparity of child abuse in Texas.
Did You Know?
There are 7,266,760 children under 18 years of age in the State of Texas, which is nearly one in 10 children in the United States. Of those children, about one third are under the age of six – the most vulnerable population for abuse and neglect. In fiscal year 2014, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) completed 168,164 investigations of child abuse and neglect, including 30,873, or 18% in the Houston Region. DFPS confirmed 66,572 victims of child abuse / neglect, of which 39,536 (59%) were under the age of seven. In fiscal year 2014, DFPS removed 17,376 children from their homes; 5,175 children were in consummated adoptions; and, on August 31, 2014, Texas had 16,961 children in foster care. As of March 31, 2015, Harris County had 2,118 children in foster care, while Fort Bend had 523, followed by Montgomery (216), Brazoria (184) and Galveston (129), Austin (74), Walker (35), Liberty (28), Waller (21), Chambers (13), Matagorda (10), Wharton (5), and Colorado (0) counties. There were 4,954 children in foster care and other substitute care in the Houston Region as of March 31, 2015, including 1,685 in kinship care with relatives and 528 in General Residential Care facilities, including 71 in emergency shelters.
Children need emergency shelter for various reasons, not only because they have been removed from their homes by the DFPS. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
It is estimated that 10,000,000 children are exposed to domestic violence each year. As a result, they are more likely to experience neglect or abuse, less likely to succeed at school, have poor problem-solving skills, subject to higher incidence of emotional and behavioral problems, and more likely to tolerate violence in their adult relationships. Worldwide, men who were exposed to domestic violence as children are three to four times more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence as adults than men who did not experience domestic abuse as children.
From 2010 – 2012 there were 4,723 deaths of children reported in Texas. Of those 686 (14.5%) were caused by abuse or neglect.
In 2013, there were a total of 185,453 reported cases of family violence in Texas; 25,392 adults and children were sheltered, 49,758 received nonresidential services (i.e. counseling, legal advocacy, et cetera) and 31% of the adults were denied shelter due to lack of space. The hotlines answered 183,836 calls. Since a small fraction of family violence is ever reported to law enforcement, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimates that some 250,000 Houston area residents to be victims of domestic abuse each year.
Help us keep our children safe and break the cycle of abuse.
CEO + Global Solution Strategist
SRT Management Services
Company Name: Agape’ Children’s Emergency Shelter, Inc.
Contact Person: Shannon Teasley-McNichols
Email: Send Email
Country: United States