Door to Grace: The Doors are Open Wide
What I've Learned About Love, Healing, and Grace
“My second safest place is my bedroom”
“What’s your first safest place?”
“Door to Grace”
- 16 year old Grace Girl
Door to Grace is a Day Home in NE Portland that brings safe and loving family to commercially sexually exploited girls. We accept girls ages 14-17 years of age, but once a girl has been accepted into our program she will never age out. She can access mentorship, group classes, community resources and healthy family relationships for as long as she choses. All she needs to do is walk through the door and she is home.
Currently, we have 29 girls on our roster and work intensively with about 10 per week. We are open Monday-Thursday from 9am-6pm. The girls can drop in at any point within those hours, though our most popular day for attendance is Wednesdays. On Wednesdays, Grace Girl’s with their mentors enjoy snack time, a group class that can range from self-defense to expressive art, and finally a family meal filled with laughter.
What I’ve Learned
Working alongside our Grace Girls as staff and volunteers has made a profound impact on our lives, especially on our own healing. The doors to grace are wide and we each walk through the entrance with our own stories and journeys. Five years ago, I walked through those doors as an intern and began my journey with Door to Grace. I was passionate about the issue of sex trafficking, but little did I know at the time how pivotal Door to Grace and the relationships I had developed there would be in my own healing journey.
I eventually found myself in an abusive relationship. Even though I had studied cycles of abuse in my Masters of Social Work program, the lived experience is much different than what I expected. My abuser manipulated me to the point where I could no longer trust my gut instinct or know what is true anymore. At the time, I was unable to articulate what was occurring, but I knew that my former supervisor and mentor at Door to Grace would understand. We had gone through the Mending the Soul training together so I knew she understood unhealthy relationships with all its complexities and most importantly that she would not judge me. Periodically, I would sneak out and call her. It took me almost a year to finally leave that relationship, but in the back of my mind my escape plan was always to go back to Portland and work for Door to Grace, and that’s exactly what happened. Within 3 weeks of coming back to my hometown, I began my employment at Door to Grace.
It is difficult to put into words what Door to Grace has meant to me. It is more than a building, workplace or a Day Home. It is a community that has loved me back to life. Being in relationship with the staff and volunteers has brought so much healing and insight into my past that I am now able to use it as a point of connection and prevention with our Grace Girls. This community has allowed me more than anyone else to be myself and embrace who God has created me to be. I finally feel healthy and free. How do I know the Door to Grace model works? It worked for me and I am seeing firsthand how it is working in the lives of our Grace Girls as well as staff and volunteers.
What I have learned in this vibrant chapter of my life is that we are all Grace Girls at different points of the healing journey whether it be running away from grace, denying grace, accepting grace, or living in grace. It all revolves around grace, His grace. We all are His girls learning to live, love and heal in His grace. It’s a beautiful community of God’s daughters that have chosen to walk with each other through the best of times and the darkest of times. It’s not an easy choice or calling, but neither is the life we are called to in Christ. It is one and the same. We must living out the calling with authenticity and grace.
How You Can Help
To hear that sex trafficking happens in your own city can be very shocking and unsettling. I often get asked what can we do to prevent this from happening in our community? There is hope. We can start changing aspects of our city’s culture that creates space for sex trafficking to occur one choice and interaction at a time.
First, stop watching porn. This is creating a demand for minors to be sold for sex and/or be commercially sexually exploited within the porn industry. Porn is not free. It may seem passive, but clicking that mouse is an act of promoting sex trafficking and sexually exploitation of minors to continue.
Secondly, let’s teach this next generation how to date in community and not in isolation along with what are the warning signs for an unhealthy relationship and/or person. Third, let’s empower girls and women to trust their gut instinct and have strong voices in situations that exhibit warning signs. Pimps prey on vulnerable girls that do not have the confidence to trust their own gut and use their voice.
As the Community Outreach Coordinator, I get the honor of seeing many individuals walk through our doors for the first time and following their journeys as they engage and partner with Door to Grace. God almost always surprises me as to how He uses those who walk through the doors. He has uniquely gifted each individual with talents, desires and dreams for a purpose. If you are feeling called to the ministry of Door to Grace, there are a variety of ways to get involved including:
· Become a monthly donor
· Sign up to cook a Wednesday night meal
· Become a mentor volunteer
· Do a Service Day at the Day Home
· Attend our Key2Free auction on March 12th
· Join our auction team
· Host a Give Party
· Join our prayer list
These are not the only ways of getting involved as we love unconventional giving! In the past, we have had individuals give unconventionally through supplying our Grace Girls with a Valentine's Day party, doing a gift card drive, offering a fishing trip, purchasing a brand new refrigerator and vacuum for the Day Home, printing our marketing materials for free, decorating the Day Home for Christmas and the list goes on! We are committed to our girls for the long haul! As in our own lives, change and transformation happens over time. We would love for you to partner with us as we live out our faith walking in authentic relationship alongside our Grace Girls.