For 16-year old Claire*, a resident at our safe home, the loss of her grandmother troubled her for many years. Her grandmother was her primary caregiver during the early stages of her life and one of the people she loved most.

When Claire was just 5 years old, she found her grandmother had passed away inside the home they shared.

“It hurt her and she still remembers her grandmother’s passing to this day,” said Kathi Tanzillo, a coach at The Porch Light.

In January, Claire came to The Porch Light safe home in need of restoration and healing after years of being coerced and manipulated as a victim in the sex trade. Not
surprisingly, she put a wall up and was wary of letting anyone in, because one of the only people she had ever been able to trust was taken from her at a young age.

“The girls we work with sometimes just need someone to talk to them and just be consistent with them,” Kathi said. “Many of them have never really had that. They’ve
never had anyone accept them for who they are or care about what they have to say or what’s in their hearts.”

As Claire’s confidence in The Porch Light staff grew, she shared with them that she had never really come to terms with her grandmother’s death. She also mentioned her desire to visit her grandmother’s gravesite.

One afternoon Kathi and Claire purchased some flowers, packed a lunch and headed to the cemetery. Upon arriving, Claire immediately took off to the site where her grandmother was laid to rest, and Kathi set the flowers on a bench nearby.

Years worth of unresolved emotions spilled out as Claire took a brave step toward realizing her true past and coming to grips with how to move forward.

Kathi said as she took a walk with Claire, she started to better understand her family dynamic and recognized the gravity of her being able to finally start letting go of the
pain. That experience began a domino effect in Claire’s life, where she started letting go of other burdens she had carried for many years.

“It’s pretty amazing when these girls step out to do something and you are just there with the atmosphere of peace and safety, where they can look inside and start to do those things that bring healing,” Kathi said.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.

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