New "Hope Haven" shelter to house neglected Smith County teen girls

New "Hope Haven" shelter to house neglected Smith County teen girls

SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) -  Plans are now being finalized to build a brand new shelter for neglected teenage girls in Smith County.  Right now the county has 60 shelter beds for foster boys, but only 19 for foster girls.  That's why faith-based organization Hope Haven is building a place for girls to go.

Lisa Godfrey lives in Tyler now, but she spent her entire childhood moving around the state as a foster child.  

"I was two years old, so I was in 13 different foster homes," she says.

The majority of them were temporary homes, where she would stay for only 30 days at a time.

"Some homes were very very loving but I have to admit, some weren't. We were just their maid," Godfrey says.

She had to go through a lot of rough times to get to the successful life she leads now.  

"To have something temporary, you feel unloved. You feel like they don't want you. So that's something you go through. You want to feel a part of someone, a part of something," she explains.

Godfrey says the new Hope Haven shelter about to be built in Smith County for teenage foster girls will change their lives forever.  

Hopefully in just a year's time a 12 acre piece of land in rural Tyler will be transformed into that shelter which will house 16 girls, permanently. 

The land,along with $150,000 was given recently by an anonymous donor.  So now, a local group's vision to house struggling teens will soon become a reality.  

"They're bounced around the state every 90 days so we want to give them permanency," says Gary Bayless, a Hope Haven Executive Officer. 

Bayless says the shelter will be staffed with two mentors and a professional counselor, who will all offer love and advice, as well as career mentoring.  Even after these girls turn 18 and technically age out of the foster care system, they will still be allowed to stay at hope haven until they find their way into the world.
"This is going to make a big difference in these girls' lives. They're going to feel loved," Godfrey says. 

For the shelter to be built, the organization needs a lot more funding. To find out more about the organization or to donate, click here.

There will also be a fund raising concert at the Liberty Theater in Tyler on October 11. There will be music by Stevie Jo from The Voice, The McGills, and Casey Rivers. There will be a silent auction and all proceeds will go to Hope Haven. 


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