A new Visalia shelter offers a safe place for teenage girls

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The idea for Gloria House started with a teen, a problem, and the need for a solution.

Earlier this year, Kathy Looper was trying to help a girl she met at juvenile hall.

The teen, recently released, was on the verge of becoming a human trafficking victim again. Her home was not safe, and there was no other place that could take her in.

One day, the teen ran away and is still missing.

Gloria House Co-Founder, Kathy Looper said, "As a result of that day that we needed a place that we could help these kids go in the event of an emergency."

The house, off Walnut Avenue, is named after another teen who recently took her own life.

Monday, it opened as an overnight shelter for girls ages 14 to 17. There are beds, bathrooms, and plenty of space to feel safe and comfortable.

Looper expects girls will come for a variety of reasons-whether they have been abused, exploited, or kicked out of a home.

"The idea is that they'll come in at 5 o' clock. We'll give them showers, feed them dinner, and then we're going to have a group pow-wow"

There's no required length of stay at Gloria House.

But if the same girls keep returning, Looper says they will counsel them, and teach them life and relationship skills.

Someday, they hope to open a boy's home as well.

"We have really connected with other non-profits in the area because our goal was not to duplicate services. Our goal was to fill the gap where services ended."

Gloria House falls under the umbrella of a faith-based non-profit called Journey Youth Coalition and has relied on generous donations and volunteers to open its doors so quickly.

They could use more help too and will host an open house on Saturday, December 16th, from noon to 4 pm.
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