JEFFERSON CITY — “A foundation of a family for kids without one” is how HALO founder Rebecca Welsh describes the organization.
With locations all over the world, Welsh said HALO serves over 3,000 kids who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“We provide them with housing, healing, and education, and that can range from full services, such as residential services to just mentoring and tutoring. It just depends what the needs of the kid are,” Welsh said.
In Jefferson City, the Boys Program mainly focuses its services to teenagers, while Girls Program serves mainly pregnant and parenting teens and their children. However, Welsh said HALO is here to serve children of all ages.
“Every kid gets a warm meal, you know, surround them, you know, with love and care and nourishment and all the things that you know any family does. That’s what HALO does,” Welsh said.
Welsh said the idea for HALO sparked about two decades ago when she was on a mission trip in Honduras and came across a local six-year-old living on the street.
“Her name was Daisy and she was begging for water and it had stopped me in my tracks. I had never seen anything like it and that was the spark of where HALO came from,” Welsh said.
As someone who works closely with at risk or homeless children, Welsh said as the war continues overseas, it’s so upsetting for her to see the number of women and children forced to leave their homes in Ukraine.
“It is trauma for them that they will remember for the rest of their lives and hopefully they can heal from that trauma and turn it into a resilience, but it’s a profound thing anytime a child is moved from their place of comfort,” Welsh said.
She said there's always something people can do to help.
“Being a displaced child should never happen, and there are things we can all do about it, whether it’s making a meal, spending some time, sending funding. That’s always something people need,” Welsh said.
Welsh added that when it comes to volunteering at HALO, the opportunities are endless.