Despite the thousands of young girls and teens who are exploited and abused in the Chicago-land area alone, there are a limited number of beds in the entire state devoted to the residential long term care of sex trafficking victims.
Two young minority survivors of exploitation and abuse who are currently housed at a local Anne’s House location are also students within the D200 school system.
Despite a history of constantly being taken advantage of and experiencing abuse and assault, these two teens have thrived as students. With the support of Anne’s House, they have managed to build trusting relationships with staff and teachers. As early as last week, they were discussing college and careers as they had a support base that facilitated hope.
Now, without warning, these two wonderful teens and Anne’s House staff are scrambling to finds answers and solutions as the program is being shuttered. The two young ladies now are in a state of limbo and once again find themselves experiencing a sense of hopelessness through no fault of their own.
While those housed at this local Anne’s House and Anne’s House staff were simply told that the organization would close at the end of the month leaving the girls without housing and employees without jobs, the Salvation Army states on their website that in an effort to consolidate all their anti-human trafficking efforts, Anne’s House is being absorbed into their STOP-IT program on January 31st.
STOP-IT not only provides comprehensive, wrap-around services for survivors of all types of trafficking, the program also delivers outreach, training, education and multi-disciplinary coalition building around human trafficking in Chicago and beyond.
While STOP-IT indeed sounds like a great program, the absorption of Anne’s House, has left these two young ladies out in the cold and absent of services. Current Anne’s House staff are working diligently to identify an alternative for the two girls and they need our support.
We owe are children, as they are the most vulnerable. Suburban Unity Alliance and Oak Park Progressive Women of Color are collaborating to provide these two wonderful young ladies with support. Throughout their lives they have been taken advantage of and used. Let us be a community that actively espoused our beliefs of love and support for those most in need.
We are launching a GoFundMe initiative with a $10,000 goal. Accounts are being set up for both young ladies with all proceeds of this fundraiser to divided equally between them that will go to supporting each in helping to take care of themselves.
We will also be hosting a care package drive, seeking to supply clothing and hygiene products for the young ladies. Look for the care package drive to be posted on the SUA and OPPW Facebook pages.
It takes a commUNITY and now is a time to step up and support. Also, if you know of any programs or initiatives in addition to what is being done that can support these young ladies, please share. They both have laid a positive foundation in the Oak Park commUNITY and the thought of them being uprooted is heartbreaking. Let us be part of the support these young ladies never had and create a stronger foundation, so that they never have to go back to the environments that viewed them as commodities in stead of the awesome young women that they are.
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