Dreams Coming True is a new Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
Welcome Katrina Watson, founder of Repaired Hearts//Restored Dreams, to Dreams Coming True! Tell us a little about yourself, Katrina:
I am an empty nester in one of the most exciting and energizing phases of my life! I’ve been married to a wonderful man, Mark for 35 years – still hard to believe! And I have 3 amazing kids – Tayor: 27, Lindsey: 25 & Kayley: 22.
Because I now have the choice to pursue how these next 30 years of my life will look, I want to make them count. I don’t want to sit back in ‘retirement’ and do things that are just me-oriented. I have a burden to make a difference – even if it is with just one person!
When did this creative dream begin?
I began learning of the Human Trafficking issue several years ago and my heart was immediately torn. I couldn’t imagine that it’s still possible that human beings are treated like commodities – a way to make a profit. It was/is incomprehensible to me that the trafficking of humans is the second largest criminal industry in the world after drug dealing – and the fastest growing!! It has wrecked my soul. I can’t shake it. At the time, I was beginning a ministry with young moms so I decided that however I jumped into the trafficking issue would have to wait until my service in that ministry was completed. But it was always in the back of my mind . . . .
How did this project/idea get started?
Once I was no longer an official leader with the moms, I immediately began deeper research into the slavery issue – especially sex trafficking. The more I’ve looked into it, the more compelled I’ve felt to do my part to bring awareness and healing. I joined Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition as an ambassador, went to an intense weekend conference and have read books and articles on the subject.
As I prayed about the how of getting involved, I knew I wanted to be involved right here in our own country. While digging deeper into the issue, I learned of how women are rescued but then, because there are only ~600 beds (specifically for trafficked women) in our country, they often have no choice but to return into their unbelievably horrible circumstances. They have no self-worth, no job training, little schooling, and no sense of a way out. I have an overwhelming desire to aid in these women’s restoration so they can move on into a healthy lifestyle and future
The vision God has placed in my heart is for a home that provides education, therapy (would love to include horse/dog and art therapy!), job training, Bible study, as well as life skills of gardening & household duties.
This vision became crystal clear when I heard a formerly trafficked woman say, “I finally feel safe enough to start thinking about my own dreams.”
Thus the name Repaired Hearts//Restored Dreams was born!
R//R is in the very beginning stages of formation.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
R//R House will not be the only place for a woman to be healed and restored, but because there is a huge need for more houses in our country, it will be one of hopefully dozens of safe havens for these victims.
How does your project create community?
From what I’ve learned, these homes are respites for women who, for the most part, have never had a loving family environment. Over seventy percent of trafficked victims come from the foster care system and most were sexually abused from a very early age. Foster care children are most at risk and targeted by those who run sex trafficking rings because of their lack of self-worth. At R//R homes, my prayer is that women and children will know they are cherished, loved and valued. And they will connect with others in the house who have been through similar situations. In my research I found that a real bond and feeling of family is developed in these homes of healing. The women/girls are deeply connected to each other and it becomes their community. They feel safe, understood and respected.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?
There is SOOOO much to learn! Getting a name approved by the state, all the many details of starting a non-profit, and how in the world do we obtain funding for this huge endeavor? Grant writing and fundraising – yikes! Then, finding a house, case management and staffing, legal services and working with public agencies . . . the list goes on!
What have you learned?
I must not get ahead of the process! My mind is constantly going – with different ideas & thoughts for every aspect of this task. (I often have sleepless nights as my mind is on overdrive!) I have to watch that I do things in an orderly fashion – and I constantly seek the advice of everyone/anyone who has any perspective and experience in this. No need to reinvent the wheel. I am totally open to learning from others’ successes & challenges!!!
The biggest misconception around the entire human trafficking situation (not exclusively setting up the nonprofit) is that the issue does not exist in our own country. Most people have said they know these atrocities occur elsewhere but are shocked that right in their own backyard it is in their midst. I now see that there is a gigantic need for education about the existence of human slavery in the US at this moment in time. It is truly difficult to comprehend and can be overwhelming, but I believe that if we can make a difference in one life at a time – restoring human dignity to a damaged soul – we are doing just what Jesus did. He was and continues to be the great restorer and healer!
What are some ways you promote your project?
I am just beginning to dabble in promotion of R//R. We just had a logo designed and are in the beginning stages of setting up a website. Not quite ready for a blog!
Biggest hurdle is lack of money. And since this is a non-profit, it will be a long time before we will have the funds to do anything ‘big’ promotion-wise. In the beginning, I believe most all of this will be word of mouth.
I actually love the aspects of both creating AND marketing but . . . there are only so many hours in a day. And because my goal is that women be restored to wholeness, I will most likely ask for help in some of these areas so I can get this up and running in the most timely fashion.
I believe Twitter/Instagram will be my best connecting point, along with a website, but I am super curious how that will actually play out. I can’t wait to get my FB, blog and website set up!
Where do you see this project in five years?
Oh how I would love to look back in five years and have already established several homes! And eventually, I would like to also establish homes for 18 years olds who age out of foster care. They are the most vulnerable people in our society.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
Our website is in very early stages of construction, so keep checking back for updates! You can get a sneak peak here: repairandrenew.org.
If you sense something is not quite right with someone with whom you come in contact, don’t hesitate to call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline – open 24/7. This is a better number to call than 9-1-1; the persons there are trained in this area and are also collecting any data that they receive. The phone number: 1-888-373-7888