Hi my name is Antoinette Welch. I want to tell you about the Hannah Project and why I need your help to make it become a non-profit. The Hannah Project is a prostitution intervention program as well as a program that helps screen for and identify victims of sex trafficking. I started the Hannah Project in 2011, after working as a police officer for 14 years and then a prosecutor for 8 years after that. During my time as an officer and as a prosecutor I saw first hand that women and men involved in prostitution were more likely than any other demographic to be beaten, raped and killed. I also found them to be the most broken, sad and hopeless people I had ever worked with. They felt that they were unlovable. As a society we assume they want to be prostituting themselves. This is simply not true. Approximately 90% of the people who end up in prostitution were victims of child sex abuse. They have been told their whole life that that their only value is what their body can provide someone else. If there were ever individuals who needed a second chance and some hope and love, it is them. With the Hannah Project I have been able to work with the judicial system to do just that. When a person is arrested for prostitution the Court orders them to attend the one day program. It has become the missing link between the judicial system and helping and identifying the victims of sex trafficking and those stuck in the cycle of prostitution. What makes the program unique is the cooperation between it and the judicial system. Attending the program gives these participants the opportunity to have their charge of prostitution dismissed and then expunged. The goal of the Hannah Project is to give these women and men a positive experience with the judicial system. Attendees receive HIV/STD screening and education, information about sexual assault and trauma counseling, and hear a presentation from a recovered victim that escape and recovery are possible. But most importantly they are reminded that they have value and are worthy of respect and love. These women and men are served breakfast and lunch by volunteers and are given a goody bag at the end of the day with paperwork on all available resources and sometimes much need personal items. In addition, there is immediate assistance for those being controlled or endangered by a pimp or help with drug addiction. The Hannah Project offers hope. To date the Hannah Project was only in one city, but a second one is beginning in another city in Tennessee and 3 judicial districts around the Atlanta Georgia metropolitan area are in the very beginning stages. What I need help funding, is getting the Hannah Project established as an official non-profit. Until the Hannah Project becomes a non-profit I am unable to apply for grants or receive tax deductible donations. The cost to become a non-profit is expensive and takes between 4 to 6 months. The gofundme money would be used to pay for the application for non-profit status and help with the operational and travel expenses for the next 6 months. My goal is to get 2000 people to give $10 each. (of course I won't turn down more : ) )
The Hannah Project is working. Since starting in 2011, just over 1000 people have come through the Hannah Project. Of those thousand, 1/3 were identified as victims of sex trafficking. As for the women stuck in the cycle of prostitution, I have gotten phone calls, emails and had some show up at another session of the Hannah Project, all of them letting me know how their life had changed since attending the Hannah Project. These are a sampling of some of the comments that were written by those who attended the Hannah Project. -Thanks for being what you didn't have to be. - These programs are a good thing for us ladies who have no one. - Thank you for all your help and caring for us girls. -This class was a blessing, a huge blessing. -I feel much better about my situation and received much needed resources.
Please help me continue and bring the Hannah Project to cities across our Nation to help these victims.