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A Help Up Not a Hand Out
Brevard Rescue Mission Changes lives with shelter and programs
By Holly Bergbower
Stacia Glavas and her husband Pete didn’t realize that their world would change due to an asthma attack, but it did.
Stacia, a 1985 Oklahoma State University graduate, lives with her family on the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, a place where people often walk or ride their bikes. While working in their yard one day, they witnessed a woman having an asthma attack. Stacia and Pete ran to help the woman and her toddler. They learned the young mother, Julia, lived only a few blocks away and offered to accompany her and the child safely home.
“We discovered that just a few blocks was a world away,” Stacia says. “The inside of the apartment was the worst I’d ever seen. The ceiling was falling in from black mold, and there was a hole in the wall big enough for stray cats to come in and out of.”
After helping Julia settle into her home, they returned to their car. Stacia says her immediate thought was to write Julia a check and get her out of the nightmare apartment, but as she sat in silence she says God was telling her, “Don’t do that, be her friend.” Either way, Stacia and Pete knew life would never be the same.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘Something just happened to us, didn’t it?’” says Stacia.
L I F E C H A N G I N G
Stacia grew up in Garber, Oklahoma. Her father, Ed Long, owned four John Deere dealerships and was an OSU Regent who also served in the Oklahoma Senate. She came to know the business of business from him — and learned how to fix what’s broken. The Long family believed in hard work, finding solutions and giving back to others.
Her family often hosted foreign exchange students, and Stacia found their backgrounds intriguing. She believes these interactions led to her interest in international trade.
After graduation from Garber High School, Stacia knew she wanted to attend OSU and get involved. Her whirlwind college days included membership in a sorority, Business Student Council, Mortar Board, General Education Board and the honor of being named a Top Ten Freshman and Homecoming Queen. Stacia participated in a study abroad program, a semester at sea, an internship in the British Parliament and an internship with David Boren when he served in the United States Senate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational administration and business and was named a Top Ten Business Graduate.
Stacia moved to Washington, D.C., after graduation, earning a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University and working on Capitol Hill dealing with agricultural trade, women’s issues and international trade policy.
During Christmas 1988, Stacia sat down with her brother and fellow OSU alumnus Dave Long and discussed the possibility of opening a franchise. He suggested checking Entrepreneur magazine for the list of Fortune 500 company franchises and choosing one from there.
“I wanted to choose one that was inexpensive enough that, if I failed, I could recover from it financially,” she explains. Stacia chose Maid Brigade out of Atlanta. Within five months, her business was open in Alexandria, Virginia, and had three employees. During that same time, she married Pete Glavas and began a family. Eventually, Stacia left her job on the Hill to focus solely on her business while Pete worked as a tax lobbyist. As the business grew, Pete also quit his job and went to work for Maid Brigade, running the day-to-day operations.
C H A N G I N G L I V E S
Stacia says she felt called to the ministry in the United Methodist Church so she cut her hours and worked only as the comptroller for Maid Brigade. She was accepted into a seminary near Orlando, Florida, but decided to put that dream on hold to follow one of Pete’s dreams — living on a boat and traveling the east coast. The Glavas family set sail in 2001 with three kids, ages 6, 9 and 11. They traveled the seas for two years before deciding to settle in Florida.
In 2006, they met Julia, the young mother with the asthma attack, and Stacia and Julia did become friends. Through time spent together and Stacia lending a helping hand over a year and a half, Julia renewed her cosmetology license, cut ties with her boyfriend and provided for her children. Julia is now married and living in Texas, where she serves as a homeroom mother at her children’s school.
During that time, Stacia was finishing seminary school. While at a conference she had what she describes as an epiphany.
“It was like God was telling me, ‘Now I want you to do for others what I taught you to do for Julia,’” Stacia says.
She wrote this thought down and pondered it. In 2008, she stepped down from her position as an assistant minister and set to work to make the dream a reality. As any true businesswoman would do, Stacia began researching what works in the world of rescue missions. She looked at other business models, including her cousin’s rescue mission in California. Stacia also stayed in a women’s shelter to see how it truly operated.
After a year of “doing homework,” she bought her first 12-unit apartment building in 2009 and named it Casa Carol. The mission grew quickly and in 2015, Stacia opened a second mission called Julia’s House after her friend and inspiration.
The two houses are part of Brevard Rescue Mission with a combined total of seven full-time employees and four part-time employees. More than 400 volunteers handle the remainder of the work required to operate the missions. Volunteers assist with kids’ club, holidays, program enrichment, medical needs and tutoring as well as grounds maintenance and anything else that needs to be done.
The faith-based homes receive no government funding and depend solely on donations. Although the shelter is free to residents, there are requirements tied to living at the mission. The service is available to women with up to three children and requires quite a bit of work. Accountability is expected. Attendance at class sessions is mandatory. Subjects include money management, parenting, life skills and nutrition. Residents must attend every weekly case management meeting, make it to work on a regular schedule, keep their apartment clean and organized, and pursue a long-term career.
For every 400 calls for assistance Brevard Rescue Mission receives, about 20 people qualify.
“Approximately one-third of our residents move out before they reach 60 days,” Stacia says. “They get in and realize how serious we are about the accountability and drop out. The residents who do make it 60 days generally stay in the program, and 90 percent of those who stay graduate and go on to live productive lives.”
Most residents stay one to two years. Upon their graduation from the program, they receive housewarming gifts such as towels and bedding at a graduation party. Many graduates return to volunteer at the mission.
E X P A N D I N G L I F E C H A N G E S
With several years of success under its belt, the mission wants to expand.
“We envision a reorganized staff structure, and we’re looking at a three-year plan to buy and renovate or build on 10 to 20 acres,” Stacia says. “We’d like to have everyone under one roof. In the future, we’d like to have an emergency shelter and social enterprises where our residents can make and sell products.”
Brevard Rescue Mission is also reviewing rebranding under a new name so as not to be confused with other types of shelters. No matter the name, the mission will be the same. Stacia and her staff intend to continue changing lives for those who accept “a help up rather than a hand out.”
“I have been blessed by these residents and by seeing them succeed. It’s so great to receive a text from a graduate letting me know how well they’re doing,” she says. “It’s extremely satisfying to be able to teach someone what a dream and a goal is.”
To learn more about Brevard Rescue Mission, visit brevardrescuemission.org.
More stories like this are available for members of the OSU Alumni Association. STATE magazine is a benefit of membership in the OSU Alumni Association. To join or update your membership go to orangeconnection.org/join
Uploaded on September 1, 2016