Brave Campaign Provides Support, Mentorship to Girls in Foster Care
By: Laura Poff
Captain Lisa Barnes grew up in and out of the foster care system, living in roughly forty different foster homes by the time she turned eighteen.
She met The Salvation Army at the age of thirteen when the corps’ social services director brought a box of food to her front door because her birth mother, an addict who Barnes was living with at the time, had failed to stop by the social service office to pick it up.
“I remember thinking that I wouldn’t have to steal to eat for a few days,” Barnes recalled.
As the director left her house that day, she invited the girl to come to youth group at the corps that Friday evening. The invitation changed Barnes’ life.
“I remember hoping a man would get me pregnant so that I could get an apartment in Section 8 because my only other choices were prison or homelessness,” she said. “Someone showed me that life didn’t have to be that way.
Now a Salvation Army officer, she is committed to doing the same for the foster girls in her community.
In 2016, Captain Barnes joined Brave, a campaign that invites churches to reach out to foster girls with a message of empowerment and hope through community events and mentoring relationships. Inspired by her childhood, she wrote a guided journal to be given out to girls who attend Brave events and partnered with the Western Territory’s Social Justice Department to create a space for Brave in The Salvation Army.
In June, she coordinated the first event in Seattle in partnership with 10 local churches and the local Child Protective Services office, whose staff promoted the event to area foster parents.
“The purpose of Brave is to help girls who are abandoned and marginalized know that they are not alone and that life doesn’t have to be the way it has always been,” she said. “It’s kind of like a party to remind these girls that they are worth being celebrated beyond what they can do with their bodies.”
According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of trafficked girls under the age of 18 are currently in foster care. Captain Barnes said events like Brave, which provides long-term mentorship and support, can help prevent trafficking before it starts.
Hillary DeJarnett, Southern territorial services coordinator against human and sex trafficking, wants to put Brave event manuals and journals in the hands of every corps officer in the South.
“This is the lazy person’s way to end sex trafficking,” Barnes said. “A lot of these girls feel like they are unlovable. The people who were supposed to care for them and make them feel safe didn’t fulfill their end of the deal. My life is what it is because of people who stood in the gap for me. If we can connect them with the church and mentors, people can show them that they are lovable and that life can be different.”
For more information on the Brave campaign, click here or contact Captain Lisa Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.