For Becky Dymond, Hepzibah House began as a daydream in 2008 upon hearing Derek Loux, a modern day abolitionist share his plans for a home – a family setting – working with women rescued out of sex trafficking. Becky began to envision turning a nearby horse farm into something similar. This dream simmered in the background, while Becky completed her Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology, became recording secretary for Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Coalition, opened a private mental health practice and did extensive research on human trafficking while looking for a group who would work with trafficking survivors locally. Sadly, her research found no groups specifically targeting this population, offering either housing or counseling, in Palm Beach County. There is a pressing need for services and resources for this population of both domestic and foreign national adults. Most resources are devoted to either under-aged minors or sent outside the United States targeting international human trafficking concerns. This leaves limited funding available for adult survivors and those who “age out”of under-age minor programs.
It wasn’t until Becky began to look for a new office space in the fall of 2010 that her daydream stirred to life. It just so happened the farm she had envisioned three years earlier was now for sale and had an out building that would make the perfect office space for a counseling practice.
The realization that this was the direction she was to go – to create a family-style ministry working with adult women rescued out of human trafficking – was an overwhelming prospect. Being a woman of faith, she took it to prayer. When she pointed out a lack of personal finances for such a huge project, that still, small voice replied, “If you will risk for this population, I will meet you every step of the way.” As she began to take tentative steps each practical objection was resolved in unexpected ways:
- A benefit barn dance produced five times the investment providing ample resources for the necessary legal, electronic and executive hurdles.
- Business advisers stepped up to give direction and design to the strategic planning.
- Skilled volunteers for key positions appeared as if on cue.
- Our federal non-profit status was approved in less than a month!
At present, this daydream has become a reality by accomplishing these milestones:
- Opened a safe house in January 2016
- Incorporated in the State of Florida in July, 2011
- Awarded federal 501(c)3 non-profit status in September, 2011
- Website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts up and running
- Key positions filled by competent, experienced personnel as follows:
- Business Advisors: Ashley Boyd Diaz, Frank Moore, Kevin Hobbs
- Programming Advisors: Dr. John Abuso, Dr. Lisa Stubbs
- Bookkeeper: Lori Schwenk
- Legal Advisers: Celia Henry, Chris Barber and Mike Coviello
- Intercessory prayer warriors: “League of dangerous women” meet every Monday night
- Monthly newsletter with book, website and video reviews raising awareness and educating our readers as well keeping them up to date with our progress
- Trafficking survivors are on the Hepzibah House Board of Directors
- Worked with 27 survivors to date providing pro-bono mental health counseling, therapeutic groups, career counseling, resume building and other supportive services to facilitate their independence and stability.
- Created printed materials with basic information and red flags indicating possible trafficking situations that have been widely used in law enforcement training.
- Committed to certification (renewable every two years) of Ministry Ventures in connection with National Christian Foundation learning best practices for running a non-profit.
- Created local visibility and awareness through interviews with the Palm Beach Post, Channel 5 WPTV and WRMB MOODY RADIO a local Christian radio station.
- Public awareness events at several local churches, schools, universities and Palm Beach County John School.
- Started a social enterprise in 2015 –Zibah Treats for a Cause, helps to fund Hepzibah House and create employment for women survivors along with a mentoring program to teach job and life skills.