Dr. Carol Christopher is founder and executive director of Our House, Inc., an agency and safe house dedicated to providing immediate help to teens in crisis and their families.
Dr. Christopher has helped more than 3,000 teens and built the only youth services agency for non-adjudicated youth in northeastern Louisiana. The program serves runaways who have a variety of problems. Our House does not receive per diem reimbursement. All services are provided without cost to those who cannot pay. All funding comes from donations and grants.
“Adults can be sent to agencies, but usually kids can’t. So, it got to be very problematic for me to answer the phone and not have an answer,” she said. Her inspiration came one Sunday afternoon when she received a phone call from a 12-year-old girl who wanted to run away. The girl was 30 miles from Monroe. “There wasn’t a thing I could tell her and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, “ said Dr. Christopher.
Our House, Inc., hung their first sign in 1990. The signs are publicized at schools and the children can go there and ask for help, at which point a volunteer would talk with them and just discuss the options. If needed, the children can find shelter at the agency. The profile of a typical runaway who seeks shelter at Our House is a child that has been thrown out of the house and doesn’t have any place to go.
Dr. Christopher retired from her position as a professor of music at Northeast Louisiana University to fully devote her efforts to Our House. She works a minimum of 60 hours per week.
Dr. Christopher’s volunteer efforts have awarded her with national recognition as the Safe Place Volunteer of the Year, the Bacos Salutes America’s Volunteers Award, and the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.