Skimming headlines or watching the evening news, you’ve likely heard news reports of children that have gone missing or narrowly escaped abduction. In 2017 alone, more than 300 cases of human trafficking were reported in Michigan, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Local non-profit organization, Vista Maria, knows the realities of human trafficking all too well and has been actively working to combat this senseless crime for many years by helping victims cope with their trauma and victimization.
In addition to this important work, Vista Maria also works with at-risk youth to deliver the care and support they need to become successful young individuals through various programs, on-campus charter schools, counseling services, living facilities and more.
Initially known as the House of the Good Shepherd, Vista Maria was founded by five of its Sisters in 1883 after they came to the Ward Mansion in Detroit. They worked with women who were in need of shelter and other basic needs and before long they were helping more than 200 women.
Today, the organization has flourished and grown into a multi-purpose resource for children and their families. Vista Maria’s campus is currently located in Dearborn and provides best-in-class residential mental health treatment and therapy for girls, young women and their families. The services provided by Vista Maria have helped people find new homes, reunite with their families and set young adults up for a path to success in their own lives.
More than 15 million school-aged children are left alone after school. Vista Maria has found that this period of the day is a critical time in a child’s day-to-day life where they are more likely to engage in dangerous or ill-advised activities. Through programs like Dreams Realized through Education and Mentoring (DREAM), students receive critical after-school support and college prep mentoring. DREAM provides weekly group or team mentoring, bi-weekly educational and academic planning and more. Students who participate in DREAM are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, avoid drugs and alcohol, stay out of the criminal justice system and more.
Vista Maria works with children who come from unsafe home environments or no home at all to either reunite them with family, foster care or another happy and healthy environment for the child to thrive in. For young women that “age out” of the foster care system, Vista Maria provides a transitional living program that teaches them how to best take care of themselves as they enter adulthood by setting them up for success with support services, life skills coaching, job readiness training and more.
Last Friday, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Vista Maria announced it is going to amplify services for child victims of human trafficking through a partnership with the FBI and Michigan State Police, reaffirming their commitment to ending human trafficking in Michigan.
To learn more about Vista Maria and how you can help this organization further its mission of helping youth heal and find their voice, visit vistamaria.org.
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