Devereux: The Woman Behind the Name

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health & Central Florida

Over the last 12 months, Central Florida Lifestyle has had the honor of spreading the word about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and what this organization does for youth and families in Central Florida.

We kicked off 2017 with a feature article on human trafficking, which, by far, was one of the most informative articles that I, as a mother, have read concerning this topic. The response from our readers certainly showed the lack of awareness about this horrific crime.

Human Trafficking Awareness

As January marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we felt it was crucial to once again share the warning signs and the ways to help our readers and our online community. See the sidebar on the next page to learn about how you can get involved.

Central Florida is one of the highest ranked cities in the country for human trafficking and there is not one child, regardless of age, race or social status, who is protected.

This year, we have once again been blessed to have the opportunity to partner with Devereux. We are committed to teaching our community through a series of informative articles as well as information on all of the services that this organization provides.

The Bigger Picture, Imagined.

Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with Lindsey Phillips, director of External Affairs. It was through this interview and her passion for helping children that the history of the Devereux name was discussed. As we talked and looked back on our partnership in 2017, it occurred to me that our readers must be aware that Devereux is not just about becoming a foster parent. Helena Devereux pioneered this amazing organization for children with special needs, and it has grown to include mental health services and support, abuse and neglect prevention services, autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities programs and so much more.

Helena Trafford Devereux & Her Mission

So, with a new year, we at Central Florida Lifestyle have the opportunity to feature the many programs and services Devereux offers for any family in need of these types of services. But to kick off the New Year, we want to introduce you to Helena Trafford Devereux.

Although she passed away in 1975 at the age of 90, her vision, passion and desire to help children with special needs has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and families throughout the country and continues to do so daily.

Born in Philadelphia in 1885, Helena graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1904. By 1906, she became an educator and started teaching at one of Philadelphia’s most underprivileged communities in South Philadelphia. At the time, children with special needs were not being given the attention they needed in school. Helena’s love for children was far beyond her time as she developed educational programs for those with special needs, especially autism, which was an unfamiliar illness at the time.

Helena lived her life for children. She opened her home, her heart and dedicated her life to developing a nonprofit organization that would help children across the country.

It is our mission this year to make Devereux a household name. It is an organization that we hope you choose to donate your time to learning more about and possibly even open your home this year to a foster child.

Devereux Florida

The experts at Devereux have offered tips about how to spot signs of human trafficking and how to help if you do.

Recognize the Warning Signs

Some of the signs of human trafficking in youth include:

  • Repeated runaways
  • Having extra money or unexplainable access to new possessions
  • Frequent school absences and/or a sudden change in academic performance
  • Questionable friends or the presence of a controlling friend/boyfriend
  • Fearful, submissive, depressed or anxious behavior
  • Withdrawn or lack of interest in preferred activities
  • Increased time spent on social media
  • Gang involvement

What Can I Do?

Get involved any way you can. The only way to end human trafficking is for organizations, community leaders and the public to work together.

Report abuse. If you suspect a child or teen is a victim, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE. If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect an adult is a victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-800-373-7888.

Become a foster parent. If you are not able to foster a child, then encourage others to consider providing the opportunity to change someone’s life. Call 407-259-0056 or email

Get involved. Learn more about the organizations dedicated to providing a path of healing for survivors of sexual exploitation.


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Written by Kristi Gomen

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