In 2015, Andrea Hancock officially founded P.E.S.T Relief International, a non-profit with a focus on bringing Pest Management professionals together to provide comfort and relief to orphaned, abused and at-risk youth through safe shelter, nutrition, education, physical and emotional health and spiritual enrichment.
The seeds for the organization were planted when Hancock learned that so many people in the world live in homes that have bed bugs, because they cannot afford to get rid of them. Back in 2004, Hancock had started Mattress Safe, Inc., a company that manufactures mattress covers.
After learning about the people all over the world suffering from bed bug infestations, she began donating mattress covers to various shelters in the United States. In 2012, she went on a mission trip to Honduras, and she brought mattress covers with her to give to three orphanages.
“I started taking mattress protectors to orphanages down in Honduras, and I caught a vision for how I could help provide sanitary sleeping conditions for people, children, and those who are in need,” Hancock said. “And so for like, four years, five years, every year, I would take mattress protectors down to Honduras. Since then I got really more involved in pest relief, now we’re taking them not just to Honduras, but we’re taking them to other parts of the world, including many states in the United States. So Honduras was like my launching pad for for P.E.S.T. Relief International.”
The first focus of the organization was the REST initiative which entails going into shelters and orphanages to provide clean bedding and pest control. Another initiative is the disaster relief program, which provides backpacks filled with personal care or baby items to people who are victims to natural disasters.
P.E.S.T. Relief International’s emerging Foster Care Initiative is where Third Lens has come in to partner with the organization.
“Now we’re wanting to build our own children’s home, our own shelter for children,” Hancock said. “So that’s the children’s home that Third Lens is helping us with. It will be located on a church property at the Vine Community Church in Cumming, Georgia. They have offered for us to use seven acres of land to build the home and also build some soccer fields. That would be part of the soccer program there on the on the grounds.”
The home will house about ten boys, ages 8-12. The plan is to have full time staff there and have outside support from the church.
“I’d really like to have house parents,” Hancock said. “I’d like to have a full time service person there who could help with cooking ,cleaning, errands and being able to give that extra energy and assistance to the house parents. I believe that will help with the sustainability of the parents who are taking care of 10 boys. I would also like to have an intern who might live there, we might rotate that intern like every six months or every year. Maybe someone who’s getting a degree in social work, or someone who has that desire to be a part of the mission and the vision for the home on a short term basis. They could help with programming, interaction with the kids and the soccer program. So, that’s kind of my goal there. And then the pastor of the Vine Community Church, he’s always had a vision for the community to come alongside and interact and support the children.”
While the children are in their care, a big goal is to help them develop skills and have a chance to be a part of a community.
“With the soccer program, we’re hoping to develop life skills and be able to give the boys a chance to participate in a community wide effort as well a sporting opportunity,” Hancock said. “Also opportunities for leadership and perhaps maybe some type of financial experiments with maybe doing a concession stand, that kind of thing. So the soccer fields and the soccer program attached to the home are going to give a lot of opportunities and creative outlets for the boys to participate in. And not just the sporting part but also mentorship, as we’ll have coaches and opportunities for growth in that area.”
Hancock and the organization started their funding campaign last January and have since raised enough money to start the next process of the creation of the home, which is working with Third Lens to get architectural drawings and begin the building campaign to continue raising money.