Williston woman rescued from suspicious work arrangement

Jul 21, 2020

Captains Rachel and Joseph Irvine knew something wasn’t right. The middle-aged Hispanic woman they were communicating with was disoriented, confused and distraught. She did not speak English.    

Captains Irvine (pictured) – leaders of The Salvation Army in Williston, N.D. – met the woman soon after she showed up at a local school, desperate for help. A Spanish-speaking school worker called the Irvines knowing that The Salvation Army could help. 

The Irvines learned that the woman had moved to Williston from Mexico to work for a family that owned a local business. The family ended up taking advantage of her, forcing her to work 12-hour days at the business, then clean their home and care for their children.

“The family didn’t pay her much at all,” Joseph Irvine said. “They wouldn’t let her know where anything was around town; when they brought her to work, they took weird routes to disorient her.”

The woman had tried to escape once before, saying that she had to attend a wedding in Mexico. But the family wouldn’t let her go.

When the Irvines met the woman, she’d been walking around for hours, trying to find help. 

“She was familiar with The Salvation Army and she knew we are a Christian organization,” Joseph Irvine said. “That helped to ease her anxiety. She said, ‘You are my people.’”

The Irvines gave the woman everything she needed for a safe return home, including:

  • Helped pay for a train ticket to Los Angeles, Calif., where she would arrange transportation to Mexico; 
  • Connected her to a Salvation Army location in Los Angeles and let its staff members know she was coming;
  • Gave her sandwiches, granola bars, and other food for the long trip ahead;
  • Provided a one-night hotel stay in Williston. 

Incredibly, the woman was so grateful for the help that she insisted on volunteering at the Williston Salvation Army (pictured) as a way to give back.  She sorted groceries inside the food shelf for several hours before checking into her hotel.

“She was a wonderful lady,” Joseph Irvine said. “We were thrilled to help her return to a place of safety. We are thankful to our donors for making this work possible.”

Please join The Salvation Army in serving those affected by the COVID-19 crisis by giving a donation or signing up to volunteer. Your help will provide emergency assistance and hope for people and families in desperate need.

If you are feeling lonely, fearful or hopeless due to the COVID-19 crisis, call our Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline at 877-220-4195 anytime between 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Central Time. Trained Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers will be available to talk, listen to you, and pray for you. 


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