#ShedLightHT 2021 Campaign: The Role of Residential Aides in the Safe House

By Tori Curbelo

On World Day against Trafficking in Persons, LifeWay interviewed a former resident who said that the community component stood out to her while residing at LifeWay: “Many people supported me when I needed it the most. The community was always there for me. When I couldn’t go to sleep at night, the Sisters would stay up with me.” In retrospect, I would have guessed that the residents would have identified a field trip or an activity as their favorite aspect about LifeWay. Instead, LifeWay’s community is one of the top reasons survivors choose to stay at LifeWay. The Residential Aides (RAs) are members of LifeWay’s ecosystem who work carefully to foster the sense of community in the safe houses referred to earlier. Who are the RAs?

Traditionally, the survivors at LifeWay Network were supported by a director, a social worker, house managers and a volunteer host community. In 2020, LifeWay introduced a new layer of support in the safe house: RAs provide direct assistance, support and care to the survivors residing in the safe house. The RA is the primary connection between the operation managers, clinical staff and the survivors. The RA will spend a large amount of time supporting, assisting and accompanying the survivors. RAs also serve as the liaison to the current atmosphere in the safe houses and what are the current survivors’ needs or recommendations. Importantly, they work carefully to keep the environment COVID-free; in fact, 100% of the residents strongly agreed that by following health protocol, disinfecting, and wearing their masks, RAs maintained a safe space.

As more than a year has passed, LifeWay assessed the RA’s impact by administering Quality of Service surveys to the RAs and the residents. LifeWay was able to accommodate residents by offering questionnaires in different languages. A few themes arose from these surveys:

● The RAs are effective at channeling issues and needs appropriately: “They are ‘a go between’ in communications or address issues when brought to their attention”
● The RAs step in to support the residents to meet their goals, one resident wrote: “They help me with my English classes.”
● 83% of residents strongly agree that the RAs are supportive, welcoming, empathetic and respectful.

One RA concluded her survey by noting:

“I want people to know that our role in the home is very vital. The RAs are the first people that the resident sees on a day-to-day basis… As an RA, the safe house is so important. It allows us to support the women which helps build their confidence and acclimate back into their life of independence. I am glad I was chosen to be a part of the women’s lives and hope to be around for years to come welcoming all those in the future.”

LifeWay is proud to foster a strong network within the safe house, how can you support it?

1) Learn more about the important role of safe housing through LifeWay’s month-long campaign for Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
2) Know someone who would make an excellent RA? Check out the job description here. Additionally, consider if you, or someone in your network can devote time to volunteer as a host community member.
3) LifeWay can continue to hire RAs in the environment with your contribution, donate today: https://app.mobilecause.com/e/s9Hg-A?vid=p2ejy.