Letot Girls’ Residential Treatment Center Breaks Ground While Jets Thunder Overhead

Dallas Morning News real estate godfather Steve Brown broke a story yesterday morning about developers breaking ground on an Uptown luxury apartment community.

Official ground breaking

In another part of town another groundbreaking took place. It wasn’t for a splashy residential facility with “well-calibrated amenities,” like the Uptown one. But its development will have much deeper, far-reaching results. That may be why everyone from politicos, community leaders, fundraisers and the media showed up.

Letot ground breaking VIP’s

It was the official shovel-dig start for the Letot Girls’ Residential Treatment Center in Dallas County. The 55,000-square-foot, two-story facility located adjacent to Letot Center on Denton Drive will provide six to 12 months of long-term treatment and shelter for Dallas’s “invisible girls.”

What are “invisible girls”? They are girls between the ages of 13 and 17, who “have experienced extreme abuse and exploitation in human trafficking.” According to police officials and Letot Center, there are an estimated 400 “invisible girls” on any given night.

Caren Prothro

While Dallas County has two long-term residential treatment centers for boys with a total of 184 beds, there no such facility for girls. Expected to open in 2013, the 96-bed center will be “the largest among only a small handful of programs nationwide” and has been “made possible by a capital campaign undertaken by the Letot Center Capital Foundation.” The campaign was spearheaded by co-chairs Lauren Embrey, Craig Evans, Sarah Losinger and Caren Prothro.

“Today is more than a groundbreaking. It is a testament to the power of public-private partnership and the generosity of foundations, individuals and Dallas County, all of whom joined together to break new ground in how a community shelters, supports and treats invisible girls who have been abused and exploited,” said Caren.

John Wiley Price

From the podium County Commissioner John Wiley Price eloquently tipped his hat to Caren, who has been working with Letot since the beginning back in the late ’70s when he first got involved. With that the entire crowd under the tent gave Caren a SRO.

Ground breaking shovels

Perhaps that Prothro involvement was why the event seemed perfect. There was a slight breeze to keep things from getting toasty, water bottles were handed out, female guests were escorted on a red carpet to the tent, half-a-dozen floor fans were in motion at the back of the tent, gold shovels stood at attention and everything went off as planned, including the Southwest Airlines flight schedule.

You see, Letot is directly under the Love Field flight plan. Ah, but this group was prepared. As a jet flew low overhead, the speaker at the podium stopped, took a deep breath and continued on once the plane had passed.  

BTW, major donors for the new facility include Dallas Woman’s Foundation, The Moody Foundation, Embrey Family Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, The Rees-Jones Foundation, Harold Simmons Foundation and The Crystal Charity Ball.

Now, how about a sales pitch? The campaign’s goal was $9.4 million. So far, $8.9 million has been raised. Why not end the campaign and donate? Not necessarily $500,000, though that would be very nice. But those little contributions do add up and it would be nice to check this one off the “must-do list.”