SOUTH DAYTONA, Fla. — It's a small, yellow, unassuming house, tucked away behind some trees. But what's behind its walls is saving lives.
- Rich and Brandi Tidwell founded Legacy Housing, a safe house
- They aim to help young women who may be survivors of sex trafficking
- Group also gives home to youth who have aged out of foster care
This is a safe home, a sanctuary for young women who either aged out of foster care when they turned 18 or are survivors of human trafficking.
"We typically take in 18- to 19-year-olds at the beginning," said Rich Tidwell, who runs Legacy Housing with his wife, Brandi. "They live with us through their GED or high school diploma programs and their college education."
The Tidwells opened their first Legacy Housing three years ago.
One of the women who lives at the Legacy Housing in South Daytona is Hailey. As a survivor of sex trafficking, her last name is being withheld to protect her. Hailey's mother kicked her out at a very young age, so she fought the outside world and did what she had to do to survive.
"I would have sex with guys if I needed food, (or) if it was really hot and I didn’t have a place to go inside," Hailey said. "I would have sex with guys for 30 minutes of air conditioning, (or) a meal because I didn’t have any food."
The Tidwells' mission is to help as many young women as possible.
"When we interview girls and we hear their stories, I do try to keep it together for their sake to make them a little more comfortable," Brandi Tidwell said. "But bottom line, there have been several nights when Rich and I discuss some of their stories and just cry."
But she's turned those tears into determination, helping 14 foster youth and their children over the years — with big plans to help many more.
"We want to help 100 foster youth. That is our next goal," Rich Tidwell said. "A hundred foster youth, each of them with a home, which would be about 17 homes."
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