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Brent Hutchinson

Photo of Brent Hutchinson

Fellow Brent Hutchinson from 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows.

Franklin, Tennessee

Connectedness: seeing how things work together and how factors influence each other

To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter

Abuse and sexual assault affect millions of children across America, with at least 1 in 10 children experiencing sexual assault before the age of 18. Incidents that take place often aren’t reported, as children grapple with feelings of shame or lack safe channels for reporting abuse, particularly when the abuse is perpetrated by a parent or someone else they know. When they do report an incident, children may be forced by the legal or care system to retell their story multiple times, reliving the trauma each time. Many children never get the support and care they need and deserve to heal from this trauma, leading to more long-term consequences. As the culture shifts toward a more cross-sector, open understanding of the negative and lasting effects of adverse childhood experiences, the need for trauma resilience education across the community increases as well.

Davis House Child Advocacy Center (Opens in a new tab), which serves an area of Tennessee with approximately 70,000 children, brings a holistic approach to preventing and responding to child abuse. They work to help investigate all reports of alleged sexual and severe physical abuse against children. In partnership with local organizations, businesses, and schools, they lead community-based, collaborative education and awareness training for adults and children in the community to ensure the likelihood that abuse is prevented, recognized, and responded to appropriately increases. They provide a safe and effective channel for children and families to tell their story, minimizing potential trauma. In addition, Davis House provides trauma-focused therapy and counseling, as well as advocacy for children and families in court. Along the way, the organization connects children and caregivers to local resources, forming a community-wide support system for families in crisis. Brent brings a focus on holistic community-level engagement from his work leading the Hindman Settlement School in Appalachian Kentucky. Under his leadership, Davis House’s community education programs embed the science and praxis of trauma resilience so helpers and survivors across the community understand the impact of trauma as a social determinant of community health, and they are empowered to move through the healing process in deep, transformational ways that build both personal and community capacity.

"When I was leading the Hindman Settlement School, a young man from our community was looking for work to help support his young family. We hired him for a temporary summer position and then offered him a role as an AmeriCorps VISTA. He worked there for three years. At the end of that period, our foodways program had grown to support a full-time farm manager position, which had always been his goal. He went from lacking focus to gaining vision for the community, where he was raised, and is now working in his ideal position. He also started his own sourdough bread making business through our community kitchen. He and his wife are raising their children on our campus and making an enormous difference in the community where they are from."