In 2005, a small class of young kids came to a stark, simple realization: “If there are homeless kids who need our help, we should do whatever we can to help them.” It’s hard to argue with that logic. This simple view of the world – and their place in it – made it possible for them to face the reality of child homelessness fearlessly. Their first fundraiser brought in $5,000. Their second raised $40,000. They either didn’t know, or didn’t care, that kids aren’t supposed to be able to do that.
When you take on something as ambitious as ending child homelessness, your mission should be crystal clear, and your approach better be fearless.
Having seen the efforts and effect a handful of kids could have first hand, HALO’s founders saw an opportunity to create an organization that would believe in its mission, and its ability to fulfill that mission, fearlessly.
Now, HALO gives homeless kids a home in which hope emerges from hardship, poverty gives way to potential, and where drawings of the past unlock dreams of the future.
We work wherever kids who have been abused, abandoned, and orphaned, need the kind of love and support other kids get from living with their family.
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At our core is a small team charged with keeping the vision clear, the gears turning, and the fire burning. They embody the deep compassion and relentless determination that has come to define HALO as an organization, and made us a force to be reckoned with in the fight against child homelessness.
HALO Founder & CEO: Rebecca Welsh
“My first contact with street children changed my life. While volunteering in Honduras fresh out of college, I stopped at a local drink stand for a Licuado. There was a little girl with big, round, green eyes standing next to me, staring at me. She had 10 other kids surrounding her but she was the smallest one. Not one of these children had shoes on and their feet were covered in cuts and warts. Their clothing was worn and dirty. Their eyes totally blood shot. As a woman at the store handed me my ice-cold liquado, the little girl opened her mouth to speak. In her meek little voice she asked me for a drink. I looked down to see that her scalp was covered in bumps and bugs. Her hair had fallen out in patches because she had chicken lice. I asked her name and her older sister, the leader of the pack, stepped up and said her name is, “Daisy”. I gave her my drink and at that moment I realized that I had been blind my first 22 years of life. Daisy was and remains a driving force for HALO. With your help we will find children in the greatest need, love them, serve them, and give them the tools to reach their dreams.”
Chief Operating Officer: Nicole Gerken
“I love what I do. I have the privilege to serve as an agent of positive change for the world and the children we serve. I am committed to the HALO vision to keep one more child from spending one more day alone and know that everyday, we are making a difference in the the lives of our HALO children. I’ve seen that love truly does heal. I believe that even if we are helping just one child, all of our work is worth it because we are providing a chance. Chance that some of us just happened to have in the environment we were given. When we provide the support of a family, we can break the cycle of homelessness. Everyday, I am inspired by our team of volunteers and staff who are committed to spreading love and fulfilling a need of helping others in the world. I keep the HALO vision in motion at all times, focusing on operational efficiencies and tools, team development, strategic planning, marketing and branding initiatives, fundraising and event support.”
Chief Giving Officer: Sally Sallee
“I am humbled at the opportunity to make such a big difference in so many children’s lives. I get to help not only children internationally but also children in our own backyards. HALO is an extraordinary organization, run by extraordinary people. I work to build upon our amazing base of donors to ensure the chance for our children to succeed. What drew me to HALO was the commitment of the people and the amount of compassion everyone has for the children we serve. The goal to empower children and change the cycle of what our kids are accustomed to is my motivation. I believe that love does heal, and HALO is the organization to provide that to children that need us the most.”
Operations Coordinator: Chelsea Tapken
“I am so grateful to work for an organization that’s making a positive impact for children in Kansas City, and around the world. I am humbled to have the opportunity to work toward a mission that I have been passionate about since my eyes were opened to youth homelessness during a mission trip to Kansas City 10 years ago. I believe that HALO is truly changing children’s lives by providing the support of a family through housing, healing, and education. It is a privilege to be able to work with such passionate volunteers and staff that are dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness.”
Kids are the greatest cause.
We partner with shelters and programs to stretch their services and fill the gaps between existing agencies. In other words, through a mixture of heart and hustle, we find a way to meet every need – even the ones that other organizations can’t, or won’t.
Our programs include housing for hundreds of homeless youth in 11 International Orphanages and Two Domestic Shelters, education in Learning Centers that offer a variety of future-focused programming, from simple life skills, to help with school to scholarship funds, and healing through a mix of therapeutic art and medical and mental support.
When kids rediscover their value and embrace their potential, it puts them on a path to becoming contributing members of their community, ultimately saving over $300,000 in potential welfare and incarceration costs.
HALO Board of Directors
- Eddie Welsh, President, COO at Capital Materials
- Carol Angerer, Treasurer, Partner and CPA at Abbott and Angerer CPAs
- Gregory Lam, Managing Partner at Copilevitz & Canter
- Vanessa Connell, CPA and Community Activist
- David Baker, Founder & Managing Partner at Legacy Investment Partners
- Suzanne Alewine, CEO & Principal Partner at Community Asset Builders
HALO Ambassador Board
The HALO Ambassador Board is comprised of committed volunteers with specific skill sets who come to the table with the desire to truly use their expertise to make an impact. This working board is organized with specific departments, which include Operations, Marketing, Business Development, Finance, Events, Programs and Art. Listed below are the department members meeting specific needs within the organization.
- Amanda Owen, International Program Support
- Andrea Steere, Marketing Support
- Brooke Nielsen, Marketing Support
- Alyssa Steffes, Marketing Support
- Taylor Lay, PR Coordinator
- Kaitlin Woody, Auction Chair
- Jane Schrader, ArtReach Auction Chair
- Kristi Dale, Grant Support
Additional Headquarters Support:
“Every child deserves to grow up in a place they feel loved, safe, and accepted for who they are. Through HALO, I am able to love the unloved into freedom, so they can discover who they are meant to be. I am able to help empower our children to find their lost voice and lead each one in a way that gives them a choice to create a future opposite of their past.”
Molly Nalunga, Uganda Resettlement Coordinator
“I spent many years living in orphanage homes with street children and orphans. I learned and experienced a lot. As a child there was a group of people who believed in me and made me part of their community. This allowed me to connect to society. I prayed to God to grant me a chance to give back to the community that helped me. I was a victim but I rose above my status in society to become a successful person. I wanted the opportunity to share with others my experiences, and give them hope especially when they are at the point of giving up on life. Luckily enough I got a chance to know about The HALO Foundation, and I believed in their vision and mission. It has been my prayer to get connected to people like them. I am proud to be part of the HALO Family as their resettlement coordinator. It’s such a privilege to be part of making the HALO vision flow in all corners of the world.”
Sarah Neff, HALO Mexico
“For more than 12 years, HALO has put love into action by providing financially toward the educational aspect of our orphanage, which currently houses 60 youth from 3 to 18 years of age. Our kids who have been victims of abuse, and abandonment, have found an outlet to their negative emotions like anger, frustration or despair, through the art therapy that Halo promotes. As they empty themselves from all the pain they have lived, there is room then to receive the care and love that they desperately need.”
“HALO drives my passion to work for an organization with purpose. Its direct impact on our community, combined with our international mission, provides education for at-risk youth through the expression of therapeutic art. The unfailing support and affirmative reinforcement we offer these youth provides the structural foundation of family. It is a privilege to work with the dedicated team of The HALO Foundation.”
Aubony Chalfant, Kansas City Program Facilitator
“I love working for HALO because it is an organization that truly cares about the future of at-risk youth. Through passionate commitments of time, energy and love, everyone at HALO strives to create a positive impact in the lives of every youth we interact with, at home and abroad.”
Maria Sanchez, Kansas City Residential Supervisor
“HALO pulled me in the moment I read its mission statement. As I began to work first hand with our youth in art and life skill workshops, it became crystal clear just how monumental support, empowerment, and love is in ending the cycle of homelessness and trauma. HALO is a safe and colorful space for children to grow and heal. It has truly been life changing to see how HALO youth express themselves and persevere through unimaginable experiences. HALO is an unshakeable example of how strong love and empowerment can be. I am blessed to be a part of an organization that has such a huge hand in positively changing our community through housing, healing and education.”
“Making a difference in the life of a child. This has been my passion throughout my career in education. I’ve learned that everyone has a unique story. It is not uncommon for some of these stories to unravel because of unexpected circumstances and traumas in a persons life. I use my skills and knowledge I’ve gained over a lifetime of working with students, adults and families in our community, to make connections and bring additional resources to HALO, allowing the youth involved in our program to strengthen their self-perceptions and receive the support they need to build strong relationships with people who care, so they can re-write their own story, in a safe and peaceful environment. I am a part of such an outstanding team of individuals at HALO, who are working to make our community, and our world, a better place for children of all ages, by reaching out and offering a hand of hope and love to those who need it most.”
Lauren Bateman, Jefferson City Lead Residential Supervisor
“There’s no way that one person can help everybody, but every person should help someone. The young ladies in the TLP have been dealt bad hands, but that’s no reason for them not to reach their potential. I love being part of the organization that will help them reach it! I believe in myself, I believe in HALO, but most of all I believe in these girls.”
Jessica Hardwick, Jefferson City Residential Supervisor
“When I heard about HALO I instantly fell in love with its purpose and mission, “to keep one more child from spending one more day alone”. Working with adolescents has always been a passion of mine, particularly low-income and at-risk children. The past several years I have worked, volunteered, and gone on mission trips to different cities, states, and countries. I have experienced various ages, backgrounds, cultures and special needs. I have always had a heart to serve others, going on these trips I saw needs in various forms, but they all had one thing in common, to feel loved. Love looks differently to every child and what their need may be. HALO is a family and I strongly believe that every child deserves the support of a family, someone to love you, be proud of you, and help you get through this thing called life. Finding HALO and becoming a “house mom” is a dream come true for me.”
Betty Sundermeyer, Financial Coordinator (left) and Joyce Neuenswander, Volunteer Branch Director (right).
“A professor used to tell me, ‘Find where your greatest strengths meet the world’s greatest needs and go to work there.’ I love being a part of HALO because we begin by learning what volunteers are most passionate about, and help create ways for them to use their passions to care for kids in the most need.”
HALO Portland Ambassador Board
From left to right: Danna Nieto, Chris West, Chelsea Jones, Aaron Smith, Brittany Jones, Tara Brown, Clif Chandler, Kathryn Tedford, Jonathan Gibson