Dr. Caretha E. Brown
In 1976 Mrs. Caretha Brown began working as a volunteer in the Orange County Jail, counseling and helping women to find stability in the community upon their release. These women seemed to have a difficult time finding jobs, housing and support that was needed to take care of them and their children. Caretha just felt strong in her heart that God wanted her to seek ways to help these women recover from addiction and other life debilitating problems. At the time of her volunteering at the jail she was gainfully employed at the Orange County Health Department as a Nurse Administrator and later in 1981 as an Occupational Health Nurse with the Federal Government at the Federal Court House downtown. As she continued to help women one on one she knew that someday this vision would become a reality. She volunteered with the Orange County Jail, through Good News Chaplaincy and Orange County Jail Ministries, in a teaching and counseling capacity and serving on the board of directors. There was a great need for long term residential facilities for hurting women released from jail and prison. “The problems that I encountered with most of the women that I counseled involved their children, who seem to be the forgotten ones.”
In 1985 Living Hope International Ministry – New Beginning Home became a reality. A ten (10) bed facility with a home-like environment provided a safe place for hurting women. In 1987 a second property, 829 29th Street became available, and served as the administrative office. The staff grew from two, the founder and secretary to six; on site house staff (husband and wife), a director and counselor. By the end of 1991 Living Hope purchased a third house, 909 29th Street, The House of Esther which became a second phase facility to New Beginnings Home. Women that graduated could live there independently as they worked and saved to transition into their own home. Later 829 had to be torn down due to structural problems and the staff relocated to 909 with a total of 9 people. In addition to Living Hope’s staff for the residential facility, there was an average of 20 to 30 people volunteering on a regular bases. They served in the residential facility and the community outreach program; jail and prison ministry, State of Florida ready to work program, as counselors, teachers, intercessors, administrative office support, house and lawn maintenance workers. Living Hope’s partners were vital to the residential and community outreach program. There were yearly events such as; banquets, golf tournaments, Walk a Thons, Children of Hope Christmas toys and back to school back pack and supplies, workshops, seminars and women conferences.
The impact of the organization has been far reaching throughout the Orlando, Central Florida areas. Women’s lives have been impacted positively over the past thirty one years. Approximately 60% of the women have remained stable on their jobs for 6-12 months; remained drug and arrest free; continued their education, re-united with their children and families. Each women that we help to maintain a productive life style, have had a positive impact on their children and family members.