Last spring, when Total Attorneys CEO Ed Scanlan met with Purse of Hope founder Kristen Hendricks to discuss partnering to create Total Impact House, a home for teenage sex-trade victims in Africa, the two agreed that there had to be more involved than writing a check. Total Attorneys’ leadership and employees embraced that concept, and began creating a unique, relational program that keeps Chicago volunteers personally involved with the residents of the house in Gulu. Recently, Scanlan took that personal involvement to a new level: he and his wife Ashley have just returned from a visit to Total Impact House and Purse of Hope’s drop-in center in Bwaise.
The center in Bwaise provides vocational training and other services in an area plagued by prostitution; there are estimated to be more than 100 brothels in a 3-square-mile area, each “staffed” by about thirty girls. But despite the bleak circumstances they’re seeking to escape, Ed says the girls were positive and full of gratitude. They danced and celebrated the visit and shared a traditional African meal with the Scanlans.
The celebration continued the next day at Total Impact House in war-torn Gulu, where young sex-trade victims live, learn and prepare for a different kind of life. “Gulu is very much a town in recovery,” Scanlan said, “there’s a sense of hope, but just a little while ago it was incredibly dangerous to be there.” That gap in culture and experience could have made it difficult to connect. However, since the house opened its doors and began welcoming its first residents in September, Total Attorneys has interacted with the girls not as a faceless corporation, but as a group of fellow humans interested in their lives and their progress. While many charities send photographs or updates to sponsors, communication between Total Attorneys staff and Total Impact House residents is a two way street. Letters, scrap books, pictures and video postcards help strengthen the ties between these two groups of people in very different circumstances.
That’s exactly what Hendricks and Scanlan had in mind. Both hope that the success of Total Impact House—for its residents and for the Chicagoans whose lives they are now touching—will serve as a model for other companies to get involved on a more personal level. The girls in Gulu often refer to the people of Total Attorneys as “our friends in Chicago”, and the feeling is mutual. Of the people he met on the trip, Scanlan says, “The gratitude, thanks and warm-heartedness is overwhelming. They’re just such good people.”
In addition to spending time with the girls, Ed and Ashley toured three local schools and learned more about the culture and economic conditions in which the house operates. That information may be critical as Purse of Hope moves forward to help the newly trained and educated girls in Gulu and Bwaise to move forward with their lives. Entrepreneurial opportunities abound for those who can find the support they need, and Hendricks envisions corporate sponsorship of those ventures as an exciting next step.
Join Total Attorneys at a fundraiser for Purse of Hope on April 9, 2010 at State, 935 Webster Ave from 6:00-9:00 p.m. $30 tickets at the door include drinks and appetizers, or just stop by to enter raffles for some great prizes.
Additional information about Purse of Hope, juvenile sex trafficking and how to donate or get involved is available at www.purseofhope.blogspot.com. Updates about Total Impact House and the journey of its residents are posted at www.totalattorneys.com/impacthouse.
About Total Attorneys
Total Attorneys (www.totalattorneys.com) is a managed service provider that helps small law firms and solo practitioners improve operations, save money and grow their businesses. Through the company’s Software-as-a-Service platform, it offers a broad range of evolving services tailored to the needs of small law firms, including legal process outsourcing, search engine marketing, a professional call center, CRM solutions and answering services. Founded in 2002, Total Attorneys has seen revenue grow more than 9,000 percent over the past five reporting years, and the company now has more than 1,100 law firm customers across the United States. This explosive growth led to its being ranked second on the 2009 Crain’s Chicago Fast Fifty list and being listed 219th on the 2009 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
About Purse of Hope
Purse of Hope (www.purseofhope.blogspot.com), a 501c3 charitable organization, was established to rescue and rehabilitate children exploited in the commercial sex industry. Since Purse of Hope’s inception in 2008, numerous projects have been initiated in Uganda. Operating both in Gulu and Kampala, programs include a vocational school, job placement, community outreach programs, individual and group counseling, micro-enterprises, and a holistic rehabilitation residence for teenage girls.