Hannah Arrowood grew up in the ministry: Her father and both grandfathers were preachers.
“I swore I’d never do ministry,” said Arrowood, 32.
She was wrong.
Arrowood and her husband, Jeff Arrowood, 34, founded and oversee Present Age Ministries, based in Concord. They launched the ministry in 2011 to address the needs of at-risk teenage girls.
“It was a calling,” Arrowood said. “I have a soft spot for these girls.”
Arrowood’s empathy stems from personal experience. She was a straight-A International Baccalaureate student at Independence High School in 2000 when she got pregnant.
“It was very difficult,” Arrowood said of the experience. “It rearranged everything.”
As Arrowood tried to balance being a single mother with school and work, she said, she was “very focused and driven. I was motivated to prove everyone wrong.”
She earned online degrees, a bachelor’s in 2005, then a master’s in project management. She began her corporate career at First Union bank, where she met Jeff. After marrying, Arrowood said, she and Jeff climbed the corporate ladder while raising daughters Sierra, 15, and Brianna, 12.
“We both wanted off,” Arrowood said of the decision to quit their private-sector jobs and pursue ministry. “We thought there’s got to be a way to do something else that is a better use of our skills.”
Hannah and Jeff already were involved with community outreach at their church, but they took a “leap of faith,” Hannah said.
In 2012, Hannah wrote a book, “Who Am I – Practical Truth in a Deceiving World.” The book is meant as a guide for teenage girls to discover their inner beauty. The Arrowoods’ ministry began by talking about the book, and the lessons from Arrowood’s own journey, to teen girls at schools in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.
In 2014, they decided to focus their ministry on girls who have been sexually abused, exploited or trafficked.
“We started to see a consistently high percentage of girls we were working with had been sexually abused,” Arrowood said. “The stories are all different but the root is very much the same.”
They also started getting calls from other agencies that worked with human trafficking in older girls to help with the minors they encountered.
When Present Age Ministries receives a referral, it performs an initial evaluation, often partnering with experts such as doctors, psychologists or counselors.
The evaluations also assess when the girls last went to school and what the best course of action is to complete their education. The girls’ relationships also are evaluated to determine if she has any positive relationships.
“Spiritually, we are determining what she believes,” Arrowood said. “We are a faith-based organization, but it is never forced on the girls.”
Once they determine what each girl needs, Present Age Ministries, funded through private donations and grants from the faith-based community and businesses, offers each girl individually designed services, Arrowood said.
Arrowood said her dream is to have a center to host the girls.
She said two pieces of property have been donated, one in Cabarrus County and one in South Carolina.
Arrowood said she hopes the South Carolina property will be ready by the end of the year.
In addition to the 20 girls whom Present Age has helped with housing and individual services, Present Age Ministries continues to reach thousands of girls in schools with curriculum it has developed focused on prevention.
“I’ve heard thousands of stories,” Arrowood says. “It still hurts me to my core.”
Arrowood said she knows, however, that she and her ministry are making a difference.
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Katya? Email her at email@example.com.
For information about Present Age Ministries or to make a donation, visit www.presentageministries.org.