(WYTV) – Betty’s Angels is a state-approved non-profit children’s shelter in the Mahoning Valley. This week’s Hometown Hero is the founder of that organization, Betty Strawderman.
You can’t help but hear it in her voice, how proud she is of her angels.
“Many of them are grown up now. We still have some. I still have Janea, she is in 10th grade now,” Betty said.
Some of the kids she cares for return to their biological parents while others mature to adulthood and go on their way. It started when she heard about teens working the streets.
“The neighbors talked about the girls on the corner that were prostituting. When I went and checked them out, they were kids, 13 and 14 years old. So then, one came, two came, four, then a couple boys came and then it never stopped after that,” Betty said.
The teenage kids have part-time jobs and five teens share one car. They have to plan their schedules and carpool to make it work.
Betty recently got a camper to house a few kids who needed some short-term emergency shelter.
“Parents needed extra help. They would be living in their cars, in their tents. I would keep their kids for six months, nine months and they could use the resources to get employment, housing and get back on their feet,” Betty said.
Julia Catchpole is a volunteer with Churchill United Methodist Church. The church wanted to help children who were victims of sex trafficking. They had Betty come in to tell her story.
“Many of the members were moved by what she had to say and we decided to help her on a monthly basis,” Catchpole said. “Recently, Dollar General in Hubbard on West Liberty Avenue has started giving products to her, as they take it off the shelf, instead of just tossing it.”
Clothing and food donations are important, but they also could use some volunteers to help tutor.
“Some of the kids don’t go to school for a year or so, so they lose that. Math tutors, we could absolutely use that,” Betty said.