As servant leadership takes on its many forms, individuals harnessing intrinsic wisdom, personal ethic, and altruism, remain at the heart of its intentional design. Displaying such intent with unyielding measure; is the prolific humanitarian, Dr. Sarita L. Graham.
Dr. Sarita L. Graham is a world-class facilitator, advisor, cleric, and CEO and Founder of Sarita Lynne Ministries, a multi-dimensional conglomerate, servicing various communal and educational exigencies. In 2005, she brought life to The Princess House, a memorialized transitory housing haven, named for her late daughter; committed entirely to the sole purpose of rehabilitation, homelessness prevention, and the overall safety, of women. The quarterage proved itself quintessential, as its growing numbers led to more than two locations, including two male service-based wings; Isaiah’s Place, in 2008 and Joshua’s Safe place, in 2015, both designed to promote balance and responsible independent living, by preventing relapse and recidivism. To date, Dr. Sarita L. Graham has served more than 15000 men and women; helping them to transform their lives, obtain housing, a relationship with God, employment, and restoration.
Her mantra is clear: She was born to live out her faith in action; to serve humanity through acts of love, humility, and essential purpose.
Dr. Sarita L. Graham couples her assiduity in philanthropy, with a sincere regard for education, achievement, and communal involvement. She holds a Doctor of Divinity, MA in Christian Counseling, a Ph. D in Bible Studies, and a BS in Religion. Adding to her educational procurement, Dr. Sarita L. Graham is a 2003 Graduate of DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative and holds more than ten certifications in diversified leadership and human service concentrations, such as: CRPR (Certified Reciprocal Peer Recovery) MARS (Medication Assisted Recovery Specialist) MAADC (Missouri Alcohol and Drug Counselor) and more. Her appreciation for educational acquisition is clear; as she also founded Royal Community Christian Community College, resting formally under the umbrella of Sarita Lynne Ministries. Having a natural propensity for multi-functional leadership, Dr. Graham is often called upon for her expertise in various fields; ranging from success as an orator and spiritual life coach, to holding the chair as the 2012 SAMSHA Leadership Missouri Delegate, and currently, Vice-Chair of KCSATRSC (Kansas City Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery Supports Coalition).
Though displaying all the traits of a modern renaissance woman, from Grand Marshalling Super Bowl XVII with Jim Brown, NBA Cheerleading with the Detroit Pistons’, coiffeuse artistry and more; Dr. Sarita L. Graham has made innate path clear, through the vocation of serving others.
When Dr. Sarita L. Graham is not out serving the world, she is a true asset to her communal body, and a loving member of her family and friendship circles.
Dr. Sarita L. Graham. Leader. Organizer. Humanitarian.
In 1999, “Princess,” at age 18, decided to leave her Kansas City home and spread her wings. Moving to Langston, Oklahoma she enrolled in Langston University, the well-known black college, studying economics and organizational management. She would then move to Tulsa for an internship in 2004.
But Princess became depressed and confided to her mother that she was not happy and wanted to change her major to nursing. Mother and daughter would share the same dream of establishing a house for women in recovery. Knowing that the women would likely come to them from the streets with health problems, young Sarita was planning to become a nurse anesthetist and to work side by side with her mother. She would give them physical comfort while her mother would give them spiritual comfort.
Then, life took a terrible turn for the young woman. Depressed about a lack of money to finance her career in nursing, Princess started working as a clerk at a gas station. She became involved with a man who introduced her to drugs—an ironic and sad twist for a young woman who wanted to help others get off drugs. There was a miscarriage. But there was always mom. Always there. Always supportive. Always praying.
Things appeared to be looking up in 2005. Princess was still living in Tulsa, but she was off drugs and talking almost daily to her mother. Not only were they excited about the progress being made on securing the house for women, but mother and daughter had teamed up to make and market an old family’s recipe for a pork rub.
But on Sept. 23, 2005, Sarita’s biggest mountain to climb would loom in front of her. “I got the phone call at 10 a.m. that my daughter’s body had been found in her apartment,” Sarita said. An autopsy revealed no traces of drugs or alcohol. Circumstances surrounding Princess’ death continues to be a mystery. “I have no peace about how she died and I have more questions than the authorities could ever give me answers,” Sarita says. There’s always a haunting and inability to get closure on a loved one’s sudden death—the professional therapist in Sarita knows that. But the mother in her can’t accept it. She dreams sometimes about having enough money to hire a private team of investigators to open the case again.
The last conversation Sarita had with her daughter pushed her to move forward with her plans for the Princess House. “A week before she died, she said, ‘mom, I know you’ve been praying for us to be altogether as a family again. This is your time to be happy.”
Life and Love Go On
The first Princess House open on in 2005, just two and a half months after Sarita Laurece Givens, age 24, was laid to rest in a Kansas City cemetery. “Princess” is on her grave marker along with the banner of her beloved sorority, Zeta Phi Beta surrounding it. Housed in a rented home on Olive Street, the first Princess House accommodated 12 women. The new Princess-Phyllis Wheatley House at 2214 South Benton Blvd. in Kansas City, Mo., owned by Sarita Lynne Ministries, opened Feb. 28, 2010 and can house up to 21 women. The Ministries also operates a house for men, the Isaiah’s House, at 3344 South Benton Blvd.
The Princess-Phillis Wheatley House is a faith-based, family focused transitional living environment. It believes in an unbeatable concept, a combination of faith in God, supportive family, compassionate good in-patient/out-patient/after-care treatment, and complete recovery support with the assistance of diligent community-based resources. The women, young and middle age, come from all walks of life. Some of them have generational addiction issues and some are ex-offenders and even veterans of war returning with emotional and substance abuse problems.
“My daughter and I shared this dream—of creating a safe place where these women could learn to see their full potential and another side of life. Every time I see a woman here make a breakthrough and begin to love herself and do the hard work it takes to change, I can feel the presence of my daughter. When I give the women here a hug and a smile, my Princess is hugging them and smiling too.”