The GCDC staff have diverse interests, lifestyles and convictions that may not be evident within the daily interactions which occur with our families. One of those staff members is Tori Brooks, who is known for her sweet smile and her positive and cheery disposition, was originally hired to work with our preschool children in December 2019. Tori remained with GCDC as a staff member when the preschool reopened during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many people are unaware that Tori and her husband Richard are missionaries with the Assemblies of God evangelical church and that they left the United States in 2021 and moved to Belgium. Tori’s family, which also includes her then 2-year-old daughter Charis, lived on a college campus in Belgium. Their community was bordered by other towns which spoke either Dutch, French, or German exclusively.
Tori says that when she arrived in Belgium, the country required an integration class and lessons in the Dutch language to ease her transition to the country. Her husband and daughter have a dual American/Belgian citizenship and Tori is planning to obtain her dual citizenship in the near future.
Tori cared for her daughter, at home, for the first year, as the family transitioned into a region that is not English speaking. When it felt right, their daughter Charis was enrolled in a preschool, where the teachers and students were strongly encouraged to speak only Dutch. Charis struggled to acclimate, but eventually was able to understand the language being spoken to her, although she was uneasy trying to speak it herself. Charis was able to make friends and learned to love her preschool.
While her daughter was in preschool, Tori was able to fully dive into her mission work which included building relationships with women who had experienced trauma, abuse, trafficking and situations that led them to deeply distrust others. Tori and her peers taught English to these women, offered them hot meals, personal needs, Bible studies and help dealing with their trauma. Although it was not always easy to achieve, Tori’s group was able to provide the women with a safe-haven from their traumatic lives.
Tori helped to plan and build a cafe that offers the women she served with a safe place to learn business training and guidance to help them be self-reliant, find safe professions and empower them to leave their past lives and be successful, safe and confident women.
Tori and her family returned to the United States in the Spring of 2023 and GCDC was thrilled to have her return to our PreK classroom as a co-teacher. She loves the look on kid’s faces when something “clicks” and they learn new information and skills. Her daughter, Charis, is also looking forward to starting in our pre-school this September, as she has wonderful memories from the toddler classroom!
Although the Brooks family were thankful to reconnect with friends and family, they feel convicted to return to Belgium to continue the momentum of their work. Tori and her family are planning on returning to the mission field by the Summer of 2024.
Tori says her mission work has made her feel passionate about how we can safeguard our children as they grow and build a community that empowers free discussions against grooming by predators and human traffickers. There are 40 developmental assets, and possessing a large number of developmental assets in the life of a child drastically reduces the likelihood of a child growing up and being in a vulnerable situation in the future. Many of these developmental assets are part of the core culture of GCDC. At GCDC, one of our goals is to help foster resiliency and strong social emotional skills in our children. With her training in her work abroad, Tori knows that these are also foundational skills that help safeguard children’s futures. When she knew she was coming back to America for a year, she knew that she wanted to come back to GCDC and continue serving the kids and families in our county to help build their strong futures.