WOOSTER – The first female resident of The Village Network is scheduled to move into Faulkner Cottage about Aug. 15. Many others will soon follow, predicted Tim Homan, TVN’s vice president of advancement, on Thursday, Aug. 4, as a group of volunteers, two of them members of the TVN’s first statewide Women’s Advisory Board, painted and spruced up their accommodations.
Sarah Hider, TVN’s grant writer and public relations manager, came up with the color scheme, which she picked in part for the names of the paint — optimistic yellow, neighborly peach, refreshing blue and relaxing green. “The sofas are new,” Homan said, adding, “Some of the ladies brought pillows and decorating stuff. Curtains are going up.”
Thursday’s volunteers also brought toiletries for the cottage. One of the walls in the living room will be painted with a mural by TVN’s art therapist, Michelle Cochran. It will include an interactive chalkboard.
Faulkner will hold up to 10 residents, who may be victims of human trafficking. The decorating project was the first endeavor taken on by the board since its introductory June luncheon, in which TVN regional development director Danielle McCoy identified the group’s goal as “becom(ing) strong advocates for at-risk girls in the state of Ohio.”
Jessica Straw is the chairwoman of the Women’s Advisory Board; and on Thursday, she brought area co-workers from R.J. Reynolds to help paint the cottage. The board now stands at 12 members, said McCoy, and all of the positions with the exception of fundraising have been filled.
The board’s objectives are “empowering young women, bringing awareness to the issues they face, mentoring them and fundraising to rebuild the educational center,” to be located in the basement of Faulkner, McCoy said. The next meeting of the board, when objectives will be further outlined, is Sept. 16.
In the meantime, McCoy said, members have been working on a strategic plan, including a timeline for meeting goals during the fiscal year, via email. Additionally, “I’ve met with everybody individually,” she said.
“I have a real passion for the girls (who have been) trafficked,” said local board member Bev Crafton. “I think this (program) is needed,” Crafton said. “We can save a few people” and turn around the lives of young women who in turn can help others. The vision, she said, is to get their lives turned around and get them away from their predators.
“We just sent out a notification,” said Scott Smales, a regional director for TVN, to all 88 counties letting them know TVN is ready to accept female clients. “Cuyahoga was one of the main ones requesting a program,” Smales said. “We’re going to start small,” he said, “and work on building a positive culture. It’s exciting.”
“The program manual is still being finalized,” he said, adding Summit Academy, a charter school serving special needs students on campus, will administrate the education of the female Faulkner residents. Their therapy and education will be conducted within the cottage. Their educational center will house a computer lab and game room space, Smales said.
Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at 330-264-1125, ext. 2230, or firstname.lastname@example.org.