Beth Arthur makes it a point to help others. So much so that when her friend Cecilia Wilhelm asked if Beth might be willing to take over as President of Royal Neighbors Indianapolis Chapter 1397 until they could find someone else, she readily agreed.
That was more than 20 years ago, and Beth and the chapter are still going strong. In addition to reenergizing the chapter, Beth has positioned Royal Neighbors as a catalyst for positive change in the community. Beyond developing partnerships with non-profits like Toys for Tots, Springhurst Nursing Home and the Hancock County Food Pantry, Chapter 1397 tapped into Royal Neighbors’ Matching Funds program to generate $2,000 to help the Philadelphia United Methodist Church replace their HVAC system. “For years, they’ve allowed us to use the church’s fellowship hall for meetings and have never charged us,” says Beth. “This was a way to thank them for that support.” The group also works behind the scenes, stuffing gift bags, baking, cooking and coordinating volunteer teams from throughout the community.
“They do so much,” says Dan Carmony, a coach and educator with Union Schools in nearby Modoc. “I mentioned to Beth how we have kids who are lacking pencils, paper and other basic supplies. She mobilized the Royal Neighbors members and before long they the basics plus binders, folders, poster board and more. We’re grateful for their assistance.”
But that’s just the beginning. The chapter has also turned its attention toward fighting human sexual trafficking by providing support to area women enslaved by pimps and forced to work as prostitutes.
The chapter’s involvement began about four years ago when Beth became aware of All Worthy of Love, a nonprofit ministry dedicated to ending human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Founded by Liz Pitcher, the organization provides outreach, education and other services to women in devastating situations. In 2016, Beth successfully nominated All Worthy of Love (AWOL) for a Nation of NeighborsSM grant. Today, Liz is still grateful for the $10,000 gift. “It’s extraordinarily complicated to pull a woman out of forced prostitution,” says Liz. “The Royal Neighbors grant has allowed us to go above and beyond for these women and provide things like security deposits on an apartment, addiction treatment and other expensive barriers to freedom. We are grateful for their support.”
The chapter is still involved with AWOL, creating holiday bags filled with homemade cookies, candies and notes of encouragement as well as hygiene kits that AWOL volunteers distribute each week to women living on the streets of Indianapolis.
Chapter 1397 takes their support of these enslaved workers even further by supporting Hope Center Indy, an organization that provides shelter, therapy, education and job training to help women not just get out of sexual slavery but to acquire the skills to live and prosper on their own.
“The Royal Neighbors grant has allowed us to go above and beyond for these women and provide things like security deposits on an apartment, addiction treatment, and other expensive barriers to freedom. We are grateful for their support.”
The stories are heartbreaking. Barbara, who came through the program and is now working for Hope Center Indy, was, for 15 years, enslaved with a group of girls and women forced to travel all over the United States to work as prostitutes. Unfortunately, Barbara’s story is not uncommon. She represents only one of the many women who have found safety and transformation through Hope Center.
Hubert Nolan, a retired pastor who founded the organization with his son David, notes that Royal Neighbors was one of the first groups to come on board and provide support to their brand-new organization. “It started with a donation of the money they raised at a community meal and has expanded to include a $5,000 grant that allowed us to establish an art therapy program for our participants. We are so grateful for Beth’s group and for Royal Neighbors.”
Beth doesn’t see the chapter slowing down any time soon. She says, “Right now we are working on a collection drive for towels and wash cloths for the Hope Center. The Hope Center is certainly one of our main focuses, but we also work with the local soup kitchen and food pantry throughout the year, and the schools are a big priority for us to support.” Planning for 2020 will begin in January, and Beth is confident they’ll be as busy as ever. “We’ll come up with something good!”