Family raises money to start nonprofit home for girlsPublished 9:53pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Dana Wynn Steele and her husband, Alan Steele, are passionate about helping children — so much so that they are in the process of adopting their 17th adopted child, to add to the three biological children from his first marriage.
They also are in the process of starting a nonprofit that would help trafficked girls get on their feet and are looking for partnerships that would help them raise start-up funds.
“There is a trafficking problem in Hampton Roads,” she said. “Right now, there’s no place for them to go. Most of them go to shelters, but they don’t have anything to offer them.”
Steele and her husband hope to buy their neighbor’s 9,500-square-foot, 10-bedroom, eight-bathroom home in their rural area off Whaleyville Boulevard and transform it into Homestead Ranch, a home for trafficked girls, perhaps adding some bedrooms along the way.
“The plan is to house as many girls as we can,” she said. “We figure we can do about 16 at the most.”
Initial plans are for the girls to stay about one to two years as they finish their education, undergo intensive therapy and learn job skills. While living there, they can interact with llamas, alpacas and horses in the already-functioning therapeutic animal program, help with the organic gardening and more.
“We want to get them into society without government assistance,” she said. “We want to share God with them, but it’s not like we’re going to shove it down anybody’s throat.”
Six of the Steeles’ children — soon to be seven — still live at home. Seven of them came to the family as teens or young adults.
The original plan for the home was for foster children who have aged out of the system and don’t have anywhere to go, but Steele said the trafficking situation relates to that because former foster children are at higher risk for becoming trafficking victims.
Steele has seen the effects of trafficking firsthand through her pro bono work as an attorney for nonprofit organizations that help trafficking victims.
The family is reaching out to churches and other organizations for partnerships. In addition, Steele has written a book about how the family grew through adoption, and includes vignettes on each child, his or her background and how he or she is doing now.
The proceeds of “A Starfish at a Time,” which also advises on the challenges and rewards of foster care and adoption, will go toward the nonprofit, she said.
It will be available at Suffolk Christian Bookstore, as well as on her website, www.homesteadranch.net. Beginning Jan. 1, it will be available at online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
On Dec. 26, the Book Owl, 5772 Churchland Blvd., Portsmouth, will hold a book signing.
For more information, visit the website at www.homesteadranch.net.