The Brave House
Stories of Impact
In her work as an immigration attorney for girls and young women who are survivors of gender based violence, Lauren Blodgett started to notice a pattern. While sitting down with her clients to work on their asylum cases, they would ask her the same handful of seemingly off-topic questions: “How do I get health insurance? Can you help me enroll in an English class? How do I make friends?”
Blodgett realized that the legal help she was providing was only a sliver of what these young people needed – and they didn’t know where to go to fill in the gaps. “I decided to do a pilot program where I would get all my clients together to work on professional skills, some kind of holistic support, and also just [build] community,” Blodgett recalled. There, her clients would gain access to everything from resume writing to art workshops. As the program grew in popularity, Blodgett realized, “‘Oh, this could actually be its own thing.’ So that was when we spun off and became The Brave House.”
Since its founding in 2018, The Brave House has supported over 200 young women and non-binary individuals (ages 16-24) in their transitions to adulthood and life in America. What started as a pilot program has blossomed into an organization with a wide array of services including peer mentorship, legal advocacy, mental health support, Jobs, English, and School Advocacy (JESA), New and Expecting Moms Assistance Program (NEMA), and much more.
As multifaceted as The Brave House is, Blodgett shares a simple goal for the organization: “[We’re] meeting young immigrant women where they are in their journeys, helping them with their cases, defending their human rights, [and] helping set them up for success and happiness in this new country.”
Over the years, Blodgett has been blown away by her clients’ evolution and growth. “We’ve seen people through college graduation, through the birth of a child and becoming a mother, [through experiencing] houselessness to now having their own apartment,” Blodgett reflected. “We try to prioritize joy and celebrate people and every success, no matter how big or small, so that it doesn’t get lost in the narrative.”
[We’re] meeting young immigrant women where they are in their journeys, helping them with their cases, defending their human rights, [and] helping set them up for success and happiness in this new country.Lauren Blodgett, Founder & Executive Director
While these young people’s lives are being pulled in many different directions, The Brave House is a physical space filled with potential for its members. Blodgett is particularly proud of the Youth Leadership Board, a yearly group of 10 members who meet each month and learn different leadership skills, from public speaking and goal setting to how to have difficult conversations, like asking for a raise. These members are then able to translate these skills to other parts of the organization, whether as members of the advisory board, mentors, or volunteers.
One of the most impactful additions to The Brave House’s staff has been the Youth Advocate, a position Brooklyn Org’s support helped to bring about. “Brooklyn Org was pivotal in empowering us to really expand our holistic offerings, specifically through being able to hire a youth advocate,” Blodgett explained. The youth advocate is members’ point person in times of crisis – the person they call when they’re facing eviction, a health crisis, in need of emergency relief, and much more. “[Her] impact has been truly life changing and life saving,” Blodgett emphasized. “She’s essentially the heartbeat of the organization.”
As The Brave House’s community continues to grow, so does its physical space. The organization is currently developing two different rooms at The Brave House that are meant to enhance members’ dignity in joy-filled ways. In the Rainbow Room, members shop at a free boutique stocked with necessities like food, clothes, menstrual products and books. In the Healing Room, members will be able to partake in immersive, science-based healing modalities to support them through anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.
Beyond the walls of The Brave House, Blodgett is excited to grow the organization’s membership partnerships to really establish their role as a community resource. They’re currently hosting on-campus events for students at John Jay College and Brooklyn College, both of which have immigrant student centers. “That’s [how] we expand our reach and partner with other great organizations,” she explained. “And then we get new members through those partnerships as well. So it’s a win-win for everybody.”