COLORADO SPRINGS — Many people often think human trafficking is not happening in their neighborhood or their city, but the hard trust is it can happen anywhere at anytime. Now, a local organization that helps survivors of sex trafficking is looking to expand resources for children who have become victims.
Sarah's Home, in Colorado Springs, is home to eight teenage girls who have been exploited to sex trafficking, but soon staff want to start helping teenage boys.
Jacqueline Staples, a board member for the organization says more than 300,000 children are victims of sex trafficking every year, and 138,000 of them are teenage boys. However there's only one
boys home in the country, which has less than 20 beds.
"We feel like it's called in our hearts to do something about it," said Staples. "These are the men of our future and somebody has to take care of them. So we at Sarah's Home are stepping up and saying, 'we're in, let's do something to help these boys.' We just need the community's help to make this happen."
Staples says Sarah's Home wants to expand and build what they'd like to call Jeremiah's Home, at a secure location in the community.
"If we can create a boy's home with no more than 10 boys out in a rural area, so they can run and be free, then that is what we need to do," said Staples.
Sarah's Home is a faith-based organization and has been licensed for eight years, and officially open for five years. In that time, they've helped 22 teenage girls from across the country.
An 18-year-old survivor who didn't want to be identified was one of them.
"I was completely in the dark and they gave me a brand new, bright light of life," the survivor said.
The survivor who graduated from the program in August was exploited to sex trafficking at the young age of 16 when she ran away from home. Her family found her six days later, but in that short amount of time, she became a victim.
However she found light in Sarah's home. During her 14-month stay, she sought counseling and therapy, learned job skills and life skills, learned about forming relationships, and even graduated high school, something she never thought she'd be able to do.
Most importantly, she found a way to heal after her experience and found herself along the way.
"The most important thing is they showed me my true worth again. I got my smile back and I got my joy back," the survivor said. "They helped me get my self-esteem back."
Vicki Proffitt, the executive director at Sarah's Home, also says staff walk next to children as they're healing and are there to lean on for support. She also mentioned it's important to keep families and parents involved during the childrens' stay.
"We know the girl will have a much higher success rate if the parent grows as she grows and when they come back together then there won't be an explosion," siad Proffitt.
The organization also provides scholarships for graduates of Sarah's Home, so they can pursue a degree in college. The organization is privately funded.
Staples says if the organization can raise $300,000 by the end of the year, they hope to open Jeremiah's Home on five acres of land by the end of 2021.
When News5 asked the survivor about Jeremiah's Home she said, "I think it's the best thing they could do honestly and it is a blessing from God that they're able to do it. I think when it does open, they'll be family also. Because I love the girls that I was with and I love them with all my heart."
For more information about the organization, click here.