By Don Lowe
Over the past 14 years, Saving Grace NWA has provided a comfortable place that’s designed to help young ladies between ages 18-24 years old find their way forward to a much better future after putting a difficult past behind them.
“Saving Grace stands alone in our region in its approach to long-term transitional living for young women who have aged out of care or are facing homelessness,” affirms Kamber Henson, who serves as director of development for this nonprofit organization. “We don’t put a time limit on healing and forming healthy habits.
“We invest what it takes to empower ‘Grace’ to alter the trajectory of her life and create lasting generational change. As a result, when ‘Grace’ is ready to leave our program, she does so fully equipped to live independently, healed from her past hurts and ready to be a life-giving member of society.”
Saving Grace Founder and Executive Director Becky Shaffer offered more detailed perspective, explaining, “We provide more than just transitional housing for girls aging out of foster care or facing homelessness.
“We provide opportunities to heal from childhood trauma through equine-assisted therapy, experiential learning and play, a loving community who meets each one right where they are and a safe place to learn through mistakes. In addition, we have an incredible community of women who surround our girls through mentoring.
“These brave and gutsy women choose to mentor for life, inviting ‘Grace’ to join them in their own lives. We believe this is imperative for breaking the cycle of poverty. ‘Grace’ can’t be what she can’t see.”
Henson says, “Offering a space for safe, healthy, Godly relationships to form is a pillar of our program. Author and educator Ruby Payne shares one of the greatest reasons one overcomes generational poverty is because ‘they have a key relationship that promotes otherwise.’
“While we believe coaching, counseling and other pieces of our program are crucial to empowering ‘Grace’ to independence, we believe mentorship is most valuable. Each young woman is paired with three mentors who commit to a lifelong relationship with her. These mentors play a vital role in reshaping the idea of family for ‘Grace.’
“We continue to see the fruits of these relationships extend beyond ‘Grace’s’ time in the program.”
While it’s not an overnight turnaround, Henson continues, “Our goal is to empower ‘Grace’ to overcome the odds stacked high against her and help her become independent. Our hope is that through this program, ‘Grace’ will have the opportunity to heal at her own pace and become who she never dreamed she could be.
“When even one person experiences positive life-change, the ripple effects are endless, and generations are impacted. The path to healing is not a quick process or linear, especially with deeply rooted layers of trauma. Intentional moments of rest, play and working through past hurts move ‘Grace’ forward as she sets the pace of her healing journey.”
Being part of this organization is special for Henson. “When you witness firsthand a young woman, deeply impacted by trauma and abuse, start to heal a little at a time and start dreaming about her future in a new and positive light, it changes you. The young women in our program are brave and inspire me daily.”
Saving Grace NWA Fast Facts
Year Started: Founded in 2009; doors opened in 2010.
Founders: Becky Shaffer and her husband, Kent Shaffer.
Employees: Ten full-time staff members and eight part-time resident assistants.
Lending a Helping Hand: In the last year alone, more than 2,000 volunteers helped at Saving Grace.
Growth/Expansion: Finished Phase 1 renovation of Grace Cottage and moved entire program to Grace Farms (summer 2023). Currently serves 11 young women at a time. Eventually, there will be housing for 50 women. Additionally, educational opportunities are available to alumni.
Support: GIVE – Saving Grace is 100% community-funded. Change a life today at savinggracenwa.org/give. SERVE – At Saving Grace, we’re all in this together. Whether you want to plan a workday with your team or serve with your family, the opportunities are there. Email [email protected] for more information.
By the Numbers: At savinggracenwa.com, statistics show that 23,000-plus youth age out of foster care each year in the U.S. on their 18th birthdays. Less than 3% will achieve a college education in their lifetime. And only 1 of every 2 children aging out will have gainful employment by 24 years old. Twenty percent of children aging out on their 18th birthdays become instantly homeless.
Physical Address: 12161 Hwy 72 West, Bentonville, AR 72712. Located at a farm in Centerton, Arkansas that was purchased in 2021.
Phone Number: 479.636.1133
Email Address: [email protected]
Spring Fundraiser: 15th Annual Butterflies & Blooms Luncheon, Thursday, March 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rogers Convention Center, 3303 S. Pinnacle Hills Parkway. This events helps raise a third of the yearly budget.