By Julie Wiessner
Native American Outreach Ministries Inc. (NAOMI) House has expanded with another location in northeastern Arizona called NAOMI Ranch to better serve as a safe harbor for child victims of abuse and neglect.
The expansion came as the result of a need for more room for more hurting children. Many had been turned away from NAOMI House as state and county laws say that only so many beds are allowed per septic tank. With 12 emergency and six foster care slots already filled, the NAOMI House just west of Joseph City was at capacity.
Another reason they felt led to expand their ministry, according to founder and director Linda Russell Thompson, was, “There is a dire need for foster homes in Arizona. There are just not enough to meet the need, both within the tribal nations and the State of Arizona.”
After a year of searching for more room, “We had just about given up looking for another place to house our kids when we found and visited a ranch near Navajo,” said Thompson.
“Since we have trusted the Lord for everything we do, all of us at NAOMI House prayed for His direction and timing and leading.”
They held a board meeting after time spent in prayer and the members agreed. “This was a no brainer,” stated Thompson, “but how to finance this land was the next obstacle we had to face.
“Ron Millet, who was selling the land, said he felt God saved it for us and since we were having a difficult time finding a bank to give us a loan, Millet is carrying the loan for us.”
Prior to the purchase, another gentleman owning a septic tank cleaning service came to the 120-acre ranch to clean out the septic tanks. Thompson said of that visit, “While he was taking care of the septic tanks, he was also looking the ranch over and told me, ‘If I would have known this place was here, I would have bought it.’
“We can now handle double the capacity of kids than we could with just the NAOMI House alone,” noted Thompson. “Now we are able to take care of 24 emergency and 12 foster care housing situations altogether.”
But still, there is need for more to be done. “We are planning to expand with two new homes, one for girls and one for boys, as the Lord leads. Everything is in His hands,” said Thompson.
The two NAOMI places help keep the kids local.
“The location of the ranch is another positive. It’s closer to the reservation and more families are visiting their children more often,” she said.
Both facilities work closely with the Navajo Nation. Before purchasing the land, Thompson invited members of the Navajo Nation foster care services out to inspect the property.
“The workers remarked that there were only a few things to fix-up and we should be ready to move in,” she said.
“One big problem with foster care is when they get large sibling groups. It is hard to keep them all together, but that is one of our goals with this ministry.”
Thompson noted how important it is for the children who come to either the NAOMI House or Ranch to feel like they are in a happy home.
“This is not an orphanage, it’s just a temporary home to give time for families to heal and to give the tribe a longer time to work with the families to be able to reunite them with their children,” she explained.
Since both facilities are classified as non-profit organizations, they are able to accept any donations to help these children heal. For more information, or to volunteer or donate, contact NAOMI House at (928) 288-9112 or go online to www.theNaomihouse.org.
By Julie Wiessner