Loren Fadulis was a high school kid the summer he had an epiphany while clearing up a mud puddle on a baseball field before a summer league game. From out of nowhere, he knew that his purpose in life was to help troubled kids.
“At the time I had no idea what to do with this information,” Fardulis says. “For many years I did nothing.”
When Amy’s House opens in LaPorte by the end of summer, providing eight young women who are victims of sex-trafficking schemes, with the atmosphere and tools to rebuild their lives, Fardulis will see the epiphany he experienced so long ago become reality.
The statistics are frightening. More than 100,000 children are trafficked annually in the United States. Most are runaways, but some are sold into prostitution by poor, desperate single parents. It is estimated that one in three young women who are homeless on the streets of Denver for more than 72 hours will be kidnapped or enticed into prostitution. Girls under 18 who become involved are considered victims by law enforcement, but those over 18 are classified as criminals.
Amy’s House, the flagship and first of four planned homes in Northern Colorado, is named for Fardulis’s daughter who died in an automobile accident at age 22 in. She was passionate about helping troubled young women and had urged her father to become involved.
The road to establishing Kairos Youth and Family Services — the organization that will establish this network of homes and hopes to expand across the U.S. and into other countries — has been circuitous, leading Fardulis to several locations across the country to serve as teacher, coach, boarding school principal, dean of men, founder of residential treatment centers and consultant.
The journey began when Fardulis gave up his dream of becoming a professional baseball player to attend Southern Missionary College in Ooltawah, Tenn., to fulfill his mother’s wish for him. After earning a degree in health and physical education, he became a coach and teacher, eventually earning a graduate degree in human development and pursuing a career in education.
In 1989, he established Monarch Youth Homes treatment centers in Napa Valley, Calif. He was shocked to learn that 90 percent of the young girls in the homes had been sexually abused. The youth homes expanded into Colorado, and in 2004 were forced to close for lack of financial support. Meanwhile Fardulis became increasingly aware of the magnitude of the sex trafficking problem, as close to home as Denver.
Then life intervened. In 2005 he had six-bypass heart surgery. After recovery he worked as a consultant to residential treatment centers in the United States, El Salvador and Bangladesh. Reviewing his life experiences, he said to himself, “What have you learned in all this,” and the answer came: “The greatest prejudice in this world is against women.”
He began to focus on providing a place and the help needed for sexually abused women to heal. Few beds are available in the U.S. for the long-term treatment these women require, despite the fact that victims are in the thousands.
Along with co-founder and chief operating officer of Kairos, Bill Cremen, Fardulis established a working board and put in place revenue streams and fundraising efforts to insure sustainability.
Providing treatment is essential, but so is education in order to change a culture that allows the problem to exist, Fardulis said. Young girls need to recognize their value — way beyond their physical bodies — and men need to stop treating women as pieces of meat rather than as a gift to be treasured, he said.
To this end Fardulis has connected with Colorado State University and the University of Colorado to found a student organization, Generation Combatting Sex Trafficking (GCST). There will soon be a chapter at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley as well.
He’s also working with CSU to encourage research on the results of the 24-month program planned for residents of Amy’s House and for space to establish an international training center on campus. These efforts are in the early stages of development and represent exploration into new territory where today no best practices exist.
The residents of Amy’s House will be chosen according to need and fit into the community. Monday through Friday they will be involved in an intense three-part program emphasizing residential treatment, mental health and education. Several individual and group counseling sessions plus four hours of school will fill their days. A state certified teacher and an assistant will facilitate individualized education programs geared toward catching them up to grade level or earning a high school diploma or GED. State-of-the-art brain testing techniques will facilitate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Close attention will be paid to “therapeutic” nutrition.
Five days of a highly structured routine will give way to weekends of rest and relaxation. Fardulis believes that, as it is with physical training, growth occurs during recovery from intense effort. An enrichment program will include a wide range of choices from art, dance, music and martial arts programs to yoga, massages and wilderness adventures. Amy’s House is partnered with Charis Ranch which provides refuge and retraining for retired track horses and will offer an equine therapy program, connecting broken horses with broken young women.
Support staff in a ratio better than one-to-one will be available on a 24-hour basis. The doors to Amy’s House remain open at all times. No one will ever be forced to stay. Genuine recovery comes slowly. Most clients will not be ready to engage in healing therapy for at least a year. Fardulis explains that these young women must first have their most basic needs—for food, clothing and shelter met–and then they must feel safe enough to become emotionally secure. A final step is achieving a sense of belonging to family, friends, church and a larger community. Only when they are able to receive unconditional love will these women be able to give back. At this point self-esteem flourishes and magical change can occur.
“When you discover what breaks your heart,” Fardulis says, “you find yourself on the road to taking action.” For him the realization came early and lay dormant until the time was right.