Holding Out Help Serves Families Escaping Polygamist Groups

ABC News

The group Holding Out Help assists those seeking escape from polygamist groups.

It helps individuals and families make that difficult transition by providing access to housing, food, clothing, counseling, mentoring, job training, education and referral services. Holding Out Help is one of a very few organizations that specializes in helping members of polygamous communities.

Since Warren Jeffs, the polygamous leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was convicted of sexual assault and sent to prison a year ago, the number of people fleeing to Holding Out Help has quadrupled.

Jeffs, still controlling his followers from behind bars, has reportedly purged the sect of many families.

"We have entire families coming out and many individuals. They aren't equipped to deal with the outside world," said Holding Out Help's executive director Tonia Tewel.

The organization has 100 clients a month and this year Holding Out Help has added six new host homes and 20 new mentors. The organization also has a service team that completed a home makeover on one of their transitional homes and led a youth camp in the summer.

Most of the individuals who leave their polygamist communities are lacking in education, by DownloadNSave" href="http://www.abc4.com/content/news/top_stories/story/Holding-Out-Help-Organization-Helps-People/csvC3QvIokqgPYJwnGQHIg.cspx">school education," Tewel said.

Holding Out Hope has had several success stories recently. They have had two single mothers get their GEDs, one get a nursing degree and one single mom even got a master's degree.

In the last four years, Holding Out Hope has brightened more than 400 lives.

To find out more about Holding Out Help, go to http://holdingouthelp.org.