The Nonprofit Offers Programs and Services to Residents with Mental Health Needs
Since its charter in 2006, Shield Bearer has been on the front lines championing healthy relationships, healthy families and strong communities. Shield Bearer promotes individual growth and development, preserves and enriches relationships and strengthens and unites families. The organization helps individuals become whole so they can engage in relationships in a full and healthy way.
Through a variety of mission-focused programs and services, including professional counseling, seminars, retreats and workshops, Shield Bearer is an active partner with community-based organizations, hospitals, universities, schools and churches. Shield Bearer’s counseling expertise lies in trauma recovery and relationships. Their trauma specialists work with survivors of human trafficking, veterans, crime victims and their families, and disaster survivors such as Hurricane Harvey survivors.
On Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey began dropping 50 inches of rain across the Houston area, leading to epic, catastrophic flooding. The historic and unprecedented flooding affected the entire area, shutting down transportation and ruining homes. Sadly, dozens lost family members, tens of thousands lost their homes and hundreds of thousands lost their vehicles. More than 6 million people were affected by school and business closures.
As the rains lifted and the flood waters began to subside, the reality of the losses began to set in. Shield Bearer staff and volunteers jumped into action in the rescue and restoration efforts, volunteering at shelters and collecting and distributing clothing, food, diapers, formula and cleanup supplies. While their offices were closed due to road closures, their client relations specialists remained available to take calls and schedule appointments. Counselors kept their appointments virtually, through conference calls and HIPAA-compliant video sessions.
Shield Bearer knows what it means for affected flood survivors. They walked with Katrina evacuees, Ike survivors and last year’s “Tax Day” floods through the devastating trauma of losing so much. Their expertise in working with sex traffic survivors, veterans and survivors of crime has been put to use bringing peace and hope to Hurricane Harvey survivors.
One of Shield Bearer’s significant success stories is a family of five whose apartment complex was flooded by Hurricane Ike. They called with trauma-related symptoms. Two of the elementary school-aged children were unable to sleep as their nightmares wakened them. Their 13-year-old had started cutting her arms. Her mom was depressed and had no motivation to get out of bed anymore. Their dad was drinking any time he was not working.
Shield Bearer’s team of trauma specialists began working with them each week during individual sessions and every other week in a longer family session. When counselors met with them, they discovered the family members were Katrina evacuees who had lost everything a few years earlier. The double trauma of losing what they had rebuilt again had delivered a devastating blow to their psyches.
Over the course of 23 months, each moved from hopelessness and despair to peace and hope. They each began to see a future. Instead of feeling like they have no control, they began to see how they could change their world for the better. Instead of fighting and blaming, they began to see their other family members as a place of hope and strength. After the mother’s heart and mind were in a better place, she decided to go back to school. A few years later, she joined the Shield Bearer team as a counselor. She is someone who is able to look into the eyes of flood victims and relate to them since she has experienced the same trauma firsthand. And for that reason, she can set them on a path toward healing that much faster.
Shield Bearer has become the largest professional counseling service provider to sex traffic survivors in the Greater Houston area. They have helped heal the hearts of hundreds of victims as young as 12 years old. Their core team of complex trauma counselors are leaders in sex traffic survivor treatment across the United States. They help train other counselors to work with this population and work with the majority of safe houses, shelters, residential programs and drop-in centers across the Greater Houston area to provide counseling services to survivors of sex trafficking.
Shield Bearer could not do what they do without volunteers. From stuffing gift bags that each client receives during their first visit to helping with events—like the March 30 5K and Family Fun Run—and data entry, Shield Bearer needs volunteers to help with all aspects of the effort. The best way to keep up with volunteer needs is to complete a volunteer application and go through a brief, one-hour orientation process. Volunteer positions are always posted at ShieldBearer.org.
Shield Bearer offers a monthly community breakfast that includes facility tours and questions about how to get involved. Interested parties can RSVP for the orientation by contacting Events@ShieldBearer.org. The orientation session occurs monthly the first Tuesday of every month from 9-10 a.m. All of their prevention, training and counseling services in any of their six locations are accessible by contacting their client relations specialists at 281.894.7222. Many thanks to the staff and volunteers at Shield Bearer for giving back to the Cypress community and the Greater Houston area.