Moved by The Salvation Army’s Help
When staff members with STOP-IT, The Salvation Army’s Chicago-based anti-human trafficking program, work with clients, they make sure these survivors know they are offering long-term support. “We know life happens,” Sam Baeten, STOP-IT Trafficking Specialist and Volunteer Manager, tells her clients when they’re wrapping up regular casework. “Let us know, and we’ll help when we can.”
Thankfully, Trina took these words to heart.
Trina* is a trafficking survivor STOP-IT worked with five years ago to help rebuild her life on her own terms. At the time, she was the mom of one with one on the way. In addition to STOP-IT’s usual help with a cell phone and train pass – both vital means of independence – they also provided practical help with items like kitchen supplies. Additionally, her caseworker helped her plan a safer reality for herself and her kids.
In reconnecting with Trina, Sam learned that she lives in an area known for gun violence and gang activity. Trina has personal connections to both – and she also has two children she wants to keep safe from both.
A Needed Change
“She needed to relocate and didn’t have the capacity to do so on her own,” Sam said. “She’s trying to get back on her feet and get stable. She’s taking community college classes online. And she’s a great mom who clearly cares about her kids and wants more for them than what they were growing up in.”
So, Sam started reaching out to staff members at other Salvation Army anti-trafficking programs throughout the U.S. Several have programs that help clients start fresh, offering housing and wrap-around services for a certain amount of time.
Sam narrowed the options to two cities with programs that seemed well-suited for Trina’s needs. Within weeks, Trina and Sam were on a Zoom call with ten staff members from these two programs discussing the details of each. “I think it meant so much to her to see ten faces on her screen saying, ‘We want to help you,’” Sam said.
Trina eventually picked the city in which she had some family members who could also support her. The program will provide a two-bedroom housing unit, food, daycare, counseling, tutoring, and security in a semi-independent living facility.
Strength to Start Over
“It moved quickly. Three months start to finish. A lot of programs don’t have so many options for the client – and within days,” Sam said. “It’s really cool that people jumped at this, that everybody responded and wanted to help.”
Trina filled out an application, took the mandatory drug test, gathered all the necessary documents for herself and her kids, and bought her plane tickets. “She was very prepared to move,” Sam said. “It was all initiated and guided by her.” Still, Sam couldn’t resist buying Trina some new luggage to help with the move.
While Sam says she’s thrilled that Trina remembered STOP-IT and reached out to them for help, she’s also excited that Trina is seeing that she does have the ability to start new. “She made it happen. She showed up and initiated this process,” Sam said. “Nothing is easy, but when you do try and do put in the work, you can make things happen.”
And when the inevitable problems arise, Sam, STOP-IT, and The Salvation Army are there for Trina. She knows that more than ever now.
*Name and some details changed to protect client’s privacy.