Homestead serving first client
Published 8:11 pm Friday, August 7, 2015
The Homestead Ranch home for girls is open following its ribbon-cutting on July 26.
The ranch will serve girls and young women who have been victims of sex trafficking, owner Dana Wynn Steele said. It accepted its first girl the day before its ribbon-cutting.
Steele and her husband Alan Steele bought the 9,500-square-foot home next door to theirs on Whaleyville Boulevard earlier this year and are remodeling it in stages, she said.
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“We can only handle so many girls at a time, because it’s a new place,” Steele said.
The home originally had 11 bedrooms, one of which has been converted into an apartment for the house parents. Some of the other bedrooms are being split up, and others are being made from larger rooms, so that the home eventually will have the capacity for more than 20 girls, Steele said.
She is passionate about helping victims of trafficking, because she has seen the effects firsthand through her pro bono work as an attorney for nonprofit organizations that help trafficking victims.
“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.”
The Steeles also have 16 adopted children, only about half of whom still live at home.
Neighbors Purpose is renovating the house, Steele said. In addition to bedrooms and a large kitchen, it also has a large bar area that is going to be converted into a cosmetology learning center, Steele said. Local professionals in things like plumbing and auto mechanics also have volunteered to teach the girls their trades so that they can return to society as productive members. There will be opportunities for them to get their GEDs and college degrees, Steele said.
While at the home, the girls will be able to partake in Bible study, animal therapy, organic gardening and canning and other activities, Steele said.
Each girl will have her own mentor, and the Western Tidewater Community Services Board has stepped forward to provide counseling and medication management, Steele said.
Steele hopes to have a thrift store eventually where the girls can gain work experience and raise money for the operation of the home.
People have been donating a lot of items and money to the home, Steele said. Several people have asked to come decorate rooms for girls as they are completed and have done so, she said.
Steele also hopes eventually to turn the well-house into a two-bedroom apartment to add to the available space.
A list of items the home needs is available on the website, www.homesteadranch.org. Call 335-0091 for more information.