SAGU alumna coordinates mentoring program for Dallas high-risk teens
Waxahachie, Texas — July 25, 2013 — Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumna and Assemblies of God (AG) U.S. missionary Stacie Dowler Silvas serves as chair of the mentoring subcommittee for the Experiencing Success Through Empowerment, Encouragement, and Mentoring (ESTEEM) Court in Dallas, Texas.
Silvas says, "Dallas has become a hub for child trafficking. There are 6,000 runaway youth in Dallas each year, and one out of three runaway children are lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home."
She continues, "The ESTEEM Court program offers girls the opportunity to change the course and patterns of their lives. With the support offered by this program and mentors, some recent ESTEEM graduates have gone on to complete high school and even pursue college degrees."
In 2012, Judge Cheryl Lee Shannon of the Dallas County Juvenile Department began the ESTEEM Court as a diversionary program for girls (ages 10-17) who have been flagged as high-risk victims. Silvas says, "Most of these girls have already experienced some form of sexual exploitation, such as participating in forced prostitution, human trafficking, working in strip clubs, or reporting rape or other sexual abuse."
While in the ESTEEM Court program, girls are required to live with relatives and attend school; many receive the opportunity of meeting with a mentor. "One of our goals is to keep the girls from going back to the same people and patterns," says Silvas.
"For six months the girls receive family therapy, drug counseling, mentoring and other services. We work with the AimTruancy Solutions program to keep the girls in school. After six months of these services, mentees continue to be mentored for another six months."
Silvas coordinates the mentoring program and is responsible for recruiting and training mentors. "Upon entering the program, mentors are asked to make a one-year commitment and meet with their mentee twice per month," says Silvas. "Most of the girls enter the program without having a healthy relationship with a reliable adult."
Silvas is a licensed professional counselor intern with the state of Texas and provides individual, family and marital counseling. At her office in Dallas she specifically focuses on trauma recovery. Counseling is offered on a sliding scale to accommodate affordability. Silvas is also a licensed AG minister.
Silvas grew up in Aurora, Colo. She began attending SAGU in Fall 2000 and graduated in Spring 2003 with Bachelor of Science in church ministries with a specialization in cross-cultural communication. Silvas earned a Master of Arts in clinical psychology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.
Silvas married Israel Silvas on August 5, 2012. They reside in Dallas, Texas.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 60 associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees on campus or online. More information is available at www.sagu.edu or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.