Many of us reach a point in our careers that leaves us questioning whether or not we are meant to stay where we are. How many would actually have the heart to act on that uncertainty and leave the comfort of what we know? Even more, how many would leave the comfort of the familiar and dive headfirst into a completely new world? For Alicia Bush, Founder and CEO of Treasured Vessels Foundation, stepping out into faith and understanding her true calling has been the journey of a lifetime.
A few years ago, Alicia left an eleven-year career in medical sales after feeling a call that she was meant to do more. After stepping away from her career, she spent several months searching and praying to find where her calling was to lead her. In time, her prayers were answered. One day her husband, Brandon, a custom home builder by trade, attended a men’s breakfast in their community that discussed how sex trafficking is prevalent not only in our country but thriving in our own backyard. Brandon returned home and shared what he had learned, which deeply impacted Alicia. “Once you hear about this horrific atrocity that is happening to the most vulnerable people in our community, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to it.”
From there, Alicia prayed to find out how God wanted her to take action. As she explains it, “What are you going to do with your hands?” was the recurring message she kept hearing, while not knowing what it truly meant. Shortly after, Alicia’s faith lead her to realize that she was meant to build a home for domestic minor sex trafficking victims in North Texas. At the time, Alicia had no idea that was even a need in our Dallas community. She then reached out to several organizations that were doing anti-trafficking work in the community, asking if a long-term home, specifically for minors, was something the community was actually lacking. The responses were an alarming, “Yes!” In the North Texas area, which includes the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country with Dallas-Fort Worth, there are currently no dedicated long term housing options for minors who have been identified as sex trafficking victims.
Across Texas, approximately 79,000 minors are victims of sex trafficking. Alicia was overwhelmed at hearing the severity of the need, but was motivated and comforted in knowing that she knew what she needed to do. This coincided handily with Brandon’s custom home building background, which motivated her even more.
Alicia’s team describes her as a tenacious woman, “who gets something done when she sets out to do it.” That tenacity and her newfound purpose led to the formation of Treasured Vessels Foundation. Treasured Vessels’ current project is “to build a secure facility to house, rehabilitate, and shape a successful future for females ages 11-17 rescued from sex trafficking in the DFW area.” The tiny homes within this facility will house up to 60 adolescent girls, providing comprehensive, holistic therapy. The Treasured Vessels village will focus on education and individualized trauma therapy, two significant pieces of the restoration puzzle.
If there was any woman who could take on such a task, Alicia was the one. As we were eating lunch, we talked briefly about her childhood in East Texas, she laughed and told me, “I was the type of child who when my mom dropped me off at the mall and told me to be back at a certain time, we both knew that I would not be there. And I was never afraid to have hard conversations or tell it like it is.” That rebellious streak and confidence was an aid because the task at hand meant she had to start having the hard, frank conversations with her community to start this movement. She immersed herself in every resource available to learn as much about sex trafficking as possible. In turn, she has been able to take that information and educate her community. Having three home-schooled children who are aged eleven, nine, and four, influences how Alicia handles discussing what she does for a career now with them. She replied, “I talk with them often. I’m open and honest. I don’t sugarcoat things, but I also give them the tools to be able to understand at their level.”
When Alicia is asked how she balances being a CEO, a wife, and a mother to three children, she replies, “It’s a faith journey, day by day.” She has leaned into her close mentors, her board, her husband, staff, and God. Though she is a CEO, her work goes unpaid. Alicia believes that she will always be a volunteer, and any money that Treasured Vessels receives should go directly towards funding their mission.
Treasured Vessels has been a 501(c)3 since January 2016. Today, Treasured Vessels has secured donated land and has completed some of the planned tiny homes within the village – each one designed specifically for the young survivors of trafficking who have nowhere else to go. When asked how the community could get involved and support Treasured Vessels, Alicia replied, “We are a grassroots effort. We have been so fortunate that so many people have been able to donate their time and talents to us. For example, someone’s hair-dresser has committed to donating ten percent from each haircut to Treasured Vessels. Every dollar and minute of support counts and every person has some value they can provide to the mission.” There will also be a benefit concert featuring Emerald City Band on May 3rd at Tupp’s Brewery in McKinney. Doors open at 6 PM, and the show starts at 7 PM. To learn more, please visit the Dallas Doing Good events calendar, and treasuredvesselsfoundation.org.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we’d love to hear about it! Share their story with us.
Story by Hannah Rabalais. Photos by Hunter Lacey.