Brave comes to Seattle

One-day event reminds girls in foster care of their value
By Captain Lisa Barnes –
In culmination of nine months’ planning, we at The Salvation Army Northwest Division in Seattle, Washington, hosted our first Brave event May 20.
Our advisory team comprised a professional event planner, a social worker from The Children’s Administration, an ally from Union Gospel mission whose job is connecting foster care with the local church, and myself.
Brave is a catalytic event for conversation and connection for girls ages 12–18 in the foster care system. This one-day event is designed to remind these girls that they are valuable, lovable, and to encourage them to dream big dreams for what their futures can be.
After the event, they join a group of other girls who will be mentored in intentional ways by someone who desires to show them that life can be different than what they’ve known.
The goal of Brave was for churches and nonprofits from all over the area to come together to remind girls who are or have been in foster care that they are worth celebrating. It is our hope that this event will change a generation. It has the potential to change the statistics for girls who end up in the sex industry, for girls who have babies too young, and to encourage girls to become whatever they are meant to be.
Foster care is considered something of a pipeline to the sex industry. It is estimated that out of all the underage youth who are commercially sexually exploited nationwide, 70 percent have spent time in the foster care system. We believe that we can do preventative work with these girls and impact their lives before pimps and traffickers do.
When I gave the keynote, I shared my story with these girls and told them if I could go back and talk to 12-year-old Lisa who was in and out of foster care, I would share just one thing with her: you aren’t alone. You aren’t alone in the struggle. There are other people who come upon hard times, that doesn’t mean that it has to define our futures, or be our forevers. You aren’t alone on the journey toward healing. There are people who want to love us and walk alongside us. Most importantly, you aren’t alone because the creator of the universe is in your corner.
Each girl was given a swag bag full of great gifts including a nice tumbler from Starbucks, lotions and various gifts from Bath and Body Works, makeup and beauty samples, a nice writing set, both of my books, “Love to a Whore’s Daughter” and the “BRAVE Journal.”
For the foster parents, we set up a spa-inspired respite room full of snacks, cookies, fresh fruit, a hot beverage bar, an Italian soda bar, spa water, and even had a professional massage therapist come and offer chair massages all day long. We wanted parents to know that we are on their team, and to thank them for all they do for these girls.
In the closing session, I spoke about mentors in my life, and why having a mentor is so important. The girls then broke off into groups of three to five with one or two mentors to meet once a month for one year. During that year, the mentors will intentionally follow up and pour into these girls who may feel like they have no one else.
We ended with our BRAVE declaration.
By taking the time to spread the word and partnering with other churches, community organizations and nonprofits—and with the help of Dawn Bonker in the Northwest development department and Major Shevaun Malone, who gave donations raised at Salvation Army Youth Summit—we raised enough funds to cover the entire event, and even a little extra to support our mentors through the year.
Two more locations in the Northwest Division have committed to hosting their own brave events in 2018. This movement is spreading, and I truly believe it has the power to change this generation of girls who may feel marginalized or forgotten.

Leader: Some suggest that injustice is too complicated to fix. But, if one BRAVE act could make one tiny bit of difference in the fight against injustice, then….
Leader: The world tells thousands of people who live in social exclusion and foster care that their lives don’t matter. But, if one BRAVE act could convince them they do, then…
Leader: Poverty can lead people to thinking they are victims. But, if one brave act could empower them with the truth- they are wanted and needed in this fight, then…
Leader: “It’s too hard” whispers a lie that generates apathy and indifference, if one BRAVE act could spread the truth that change is possible, then….
Leader: The world says women and girls are expendable. If one BRAVE act could show a girl that she is wanted and needed and loved, then…..
Leader: Sometimes things are so bad that people stop dreaming of a better world. If one BRAVE act could re-awaken a person’s capacity to dream again, then…
Leader: People have this idea that God is indifferent and unmotivated by poverty and injustice. If one BRAVE act could show the world that God is love in action, then…

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