A Word From Gabriel Abraham
I was introduced to Rev. Kiti Ward, the founder and Director of AGAPE HOUSE on August 6, 2019. Kiti was previously received/mentored by Paul Sutton, and she was reassigned to me by the former score office manager Karen Ginther. From August 2019, through the Covid pandemic, I have mentored Kiti Ward for over 150 hours. I continue mentoring her to this date.
As a non-profit 501c3 organization, the AGAPE HOUSE is financed through donations and grants. Following the Covid pandemic and through the lockdown, the AGAPE HOUSE financing was close to zero. When I met them, the agency was already struggling for its survival.
As of writing, the Agape House have received Grants and the result is attributed mostly to their determination not to close their organization, follow through with my recommendations and execute them religiously.
While the challenges they were facing are behind them, they still need further assistance to strengthen their foundation and get more funding to help those young vulnerable women who truly need more of our attention.
1. What is your organization and what was your motivation for starting it?
THE AGAPE HOUSE, a faith-based organization founded in 2014 by Rev. Kiti Ward, is a non-profit 501c3 agency,. Our mission and vision are to provide a proactive program, non-time limited housing, employment, and educational opportunities, as well as mental health counseling to homeless or about to be homeless, aged-out of foster care, marginalized women. These are the underserved, overrepresented, mostly BIPOC young women who have suffered trauma and are potential victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We utilize therapists, mother and business mentors, and peer-to-peer counseling, as well as partnering with other agencies to provide wrap-around services.
2. How is your organization going and what does the future look like for your organization?
Our business is in a new day. We are moving into phase five of planning and implementation. We are growing, in significant part, to Gabriel Abraham, our mentor. Living "hand to mouth" has not been an efficient model of service. Our lack of resources meant that THE AGAPE HOUSE service providers were unpaid volunteers since its inception. The following are ways in which we are moving towards stabilization and empowerment of the women we serve, as well as meeting the organizational and financial needs of the staff who serve those women. We are in communication with Amara, a 100-year-old agency (previously known as Medina) as we have been exploring different ways to meet the needs of BIPOC homeless women. who have experienced the child welfare system and are making the transition to adulthood. Amara has invited THE AGAPE HOUSE to participate in long-term planning to develop a 29-acre property in Pierce County owned by Amara aimed at reducing child welfare involvement for future generations. We are also in conversation and partnership with GSPS (Global Social Business Partners) in their efforts to build a campus, the "Iseed University Ecco Village". Here, food systems, education, virtual learning, housing, as well as holistic health will be provided on a country as well as a worldwide basis with THE AGAPE HOUSE being a major housing contributor. Amongst many other great paths ahead for THE AGAPE HOUSE.
3. When did you first reach out to SCORE and why?
We first reached out to SCORE in 2015. Don Horowitz, a family friend,, recommended that we as a fledgling agency should seek out SCORE'S expertise. The only outside professional help we had at that time was pro bono from the renowned law offices of Perkins Coie. The community, of course, had stepped in to help. We were desperate to establish services, to raise our visage and funds, to be vetted in the community of youth and justice programs. All SCORE volunteers, in whatever capacity, have been professional and helpful. Gabriel has been the most exemplary.
4. How long have you been working with your mentor?
We first met with Gabriel Abraham on August 6, 2019. He noted that we had not received compensation since the agency's conception, yet those involved were willing to give their utmost. We had a "can do" attitude that intersected with Gabriel's positivism. We were living out the proverb of "building the airplane while we are flying it". He endorsed knowing that if you don't make it the first time, go back, and try again. It is his attitude that we are in this together; that he actually saw us (imagine that) and what we were doing, that reinforced our courage, our hope.
5. How has your mentor and SCORE helped you and your organization?
Gabriel has helped our business grow by being a trusted confidante, one who speaks honestly and thoughtfully as we encounter challenges and victories. Ironically, Gabriel does for THE AGAPE HOUSE what THE AGAPE HOUSE is committed to doing for underserved and overrepresented women. The following are just a few examples of how Mr. Abraham has been a change agent in the life of the agency:
- Introduced THE AGAPE HOUSE to the University of Washington's Foster's School of Business for free technical assistance. The UW provided an in-depth analysis of the organization.
- SCORE'S encouragement to THE AGAPE HOUSE to proceed in certain areas was indirectly responsible for a small grant given to the agency.
- Amongst countless other ways.
6. How has SCORE helped you grow your organization?
Very frankly, SCORE, through Gabriel Abraham has renewed THE AGAPE HOUSE's hope for a future; it is being met with newly identified goals, action plans, strategies, and proposals to work better to enable success and growth for the community, for the young women served, for the staff and volunteers who serve the women.
7. Can you give us one or two short narratives about how your relationship with SCORE helped your organization? Ex: An important success, connection, revenue growth, etc.
Gabriel Abraham is a "can do" person. It is one thing to be optimistic, it is quite another to not only see possibilities but to come equipped with ways and procedures to engage those opportunities with intelligence, appropriate skill set, and tools. Mr. Abraham does just that. He has been one of the major "elevators" of the agency exploring possibilities for our maintenance and growth. Gabriel introduced THE AGAPE HOUSE to the University of Washington's Foster School of Business for technical assistance. They provided us with in-depth analysis of the organization, SWOT analysis, and proposals. We believe a recent financial contribution to THE AGAPE HOUSE can be traced back to them knowing about Foster School of Business' involvement. This important document serves as a foundation that THE AGAPE HOUSE often references for ideas, clarification, and outside perspective. The document supported that THE AGAPE HOUSE'S greatest needs are a grant writer and a marketing person.
This second example of Gabriel's commitment as a mentor exemplifies his innate ability to not only keep his word but also recognize the importance and impact a volunteer mentor can have in a brainstorming meeting with another agency, Amara. Gabriel was that man who showed up in a casual suit with a myriad of ideas, helped find common ground, and revealed an ability to compromise while supporting the mentee (me) for THE AGAPE HOUSE. It was a commendable start, in part, due to Gabriel/s contributions.
8. What would you tell others who want to start or grow their business about SCORE and its services? What is/was your favorite part of working with SCORE?
It would be my honor to tell others that SCORE is one of my all-time favorite agencies. It gives us hope to observe the renewal of SCORE. Now, SCORE recruits the most diverse group of interested and interesting people from varied backgrounds, ethnicities. ages and skill sets. In the last several years the scope of services has increased in juxtaposition to the diversity of people including a variety of ages, races, and a mix of male and female. The energy and brilliance that come out of this change allow a deeper dive into subject areas with more thoughtful and reality-based perspectives. I believe anyone from a neophyte to a seasoned businessperson (or non-profit person) can benefit from SCORE. Our favorite part of working with SCORE has been working with the excellent Gabriel Abraham.