What Goes Through A Survivor’s Mind When Progressing Through A Program?
“For me, the program was a constant battle between my mind and my thoughts of good vs. evil. Your own worst enemy is yourself and your own fearful thoughts.” ~Survivor
“A residential program is designed to give each lady like myself so many opportunities and tools that we have never had in the past, especially all at once. It can be very overwhelming because having all these good people and staff, a safe environment, and positive things around us is all very new to someone who has been traumatized for many years and is just coming out of a life of hell. Change is also very scary and the fear of the unknown stops so many of us from progressing in life and accepting what is comfortable.
You have to decide for yourself to overcome those fears and start to give life and new opportunities a chance. Opportunities are handed to you throughout the program, but you have the CHOICE to CHOOSE how to take advantage of all the resources provided to you. When I first started in the program, after a few months I was able to enroll in college for the very first time in my life and that was the start of this amazing new chapter in my life. As I progressed and started to achieve a level of education that was unimaginable to myself, those fear-driven words started to wash away and be replaced with words of my own voice speaking into me with self-confidence, self-pride, self-encouragement, and my own happiness.
Logging in to the computer for school and seeing the straight A 4.0 GPA student that I had become on my own was priceless. I was being shown a better and different way of life every day and through seeing, I was able to start believing; and through believing, I was able to start acting and choosing a healthy, safe, positive, and better way of life.”
~Former TSW resident
A Letter of Love Back to TSW
~A Former Resident
“Years ago I got into your car having no clue where I was going, but knew I was leaving my past behind. I’m sure like me, you had no clue the challenges we would face together over the years. Thank you is not enough for all that you have done for me. You and TSW have given me the strength and guidance to change my life, through your truth, love, and grace.
Although I still struggle at times with the uncertainties of life, you stand by me. Even when I majorly mess up, you continue to extend me love and grace. I don’t understand you most of the time, but I am beyond thankful for you and all that you have and continue to do for me.
Thank you for bringing truth into my life. Thank you for being a mother to me and showing me unconditional love. You have no clue how amazing you really are and how much we look up to you.”
Love, a former resident
What is it like when a survivor enters a program?
“Entering the program, I was scared, overwhelmed, anxious, hopeless, as well as hopeful. I had never experienced anything or anyone positive, good, or influential in my life.”
“I was so abused that I mentally believed the lies I had been told for so many years. They were embedded in my mind; that I was worthless, would never amount to anything, didn’t deserve life, and so many more lies running through my mind to drive me away from anything positive. I told the Director here ‘I’m only here for good food, cigarettes, and a month of freedom. There’s no hope for me and after my month is up, send me back to jail.’ She looked at me and smiled and said, ‘That’s all a lie, and I’m going to help change that thought today.’
Entering this program, you could feel and see the presence of God and that He was and is at work. The first month was a struggle and internal battle of good verses bad, but because of the support from the staff, the process of change was made easier and more foreseeable. After my first month, they helped me to change the negative thought processes. With a lot of fighting and a mix of struggles, I was ready and willing to begin the process of healing that changed my life.”
This is a survivor’s story, told only as she can tell it. Throughout the year we will hear more of her story as she shares her experiences in a shelter program and what life looks like today. She may live in your neighborhood or she may live across the country, but her healing is important, no matter where she lives.
“Cooking is a passion of mine, and just being able to help TSW during ‘Intensive’ weeks for the mentees is a huge blessing.”
Mona Fam was first introduced to TSW 10 years ago through her church, St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church. In November 2018, she felt called by God to leave her job and start serving in the community, and TSW was one of the organizations that God put on her heart to serve. After spending a season as a resident volunteer, Mona began serving on the hospitality team, preparing meals during the weeks when the mentees are in training. “I get the blessing of meeting the mentees as well as the staff during that time where I’m in the kitchen,” notes Mona.
Thank you Mona for your continued service to TSW!
“God has put a passion in my heart or the women who have been grossly abused and violated by human trafficking, and I hope I can find more ways to help combat this purely evil persecution of women.”
Dawn Stoute first became involved with women who were victims of human trafficking in 2011 through her church, Crossroads Church of the Nazarene. Dawn joined The Samaritan Women’s Development Committee in 2014 to help find creative ways to raise funds for survivor care through special events and workplace giving. She leads by example in boldly sharing the vision and work of TSW within her circles of influence at her church, in her local community, and in her workplace. Dawn is an advocate for our ministry and continues to find opportunities for TSW to speak about trafficking, sell biscotti, and host fundraisers.
Thank you Dawn for years of passionate service and dedication to survivors!
“A Leap of Faith”
Jasmyne Cummings believes she took a leap of faith when she signed up for Volunteer Maryland’s AmeriCorps program, but “it has proven to be the best decision of my personal and professional life,” according to Cummings. Through the Volunteer Maryland program, Jasmyne has served as Volunteer Coordinator at The Samaritan Women for 11 months, and now that she has come to the end of her service year, TSW is thrilled to be bringing such a talented individual on staff as our Church Impact Manager.
Jasmyne saw Volunteer Maryland’s AmeriCorps program as an opportunity not only for professional development, but also as a way to fulfill her desire to serve at a nonprofit in her community. Jasmyne followed in the footsteps of Mallory Jones, who was the first Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at TSW. Since Jasmyne has been serving as Volunteer Coordinator, she has managed over 400 volunteers, established new systems for communicating with volunteers, and developed electronic forms for tracking and managing volunteers.
The knowledge and resources that The Samaritan Women have gained from its three-year partnership with Volunteer Maryland are now being shared to build up volunteer programs across the nation so that more volunteers will be empowered to use their skills and strengths to contribute to the healing of survivors of human trafficking.
~ Collin and Jen
Collin and Jen learned about The Samaritan Women from their church, Grace Community Church, where there is a ministry (Grace4Freedom) that focuses on helping the vulnerable and victims of trafficking in Maryland. “We already knew some about the evils of human trafficking, and because of what we know of God, we felt a calling to help the vulnerable in this arena,” notes Collin.
They wanted their wedding day to be one where God was worshiped and since they had been so blessed in their lives that neither of them could think of a time when they were in material need, they decided to offer their guests the option of giving to a few different organizations that are about the work that God is doing here on earth. While they still received plenty of wedding gifts, they asked people to consider donating to one of their favorite ministries instead of getting them a gift, and many actually did both!
Happy first Anniversary Collin and Jen, and thank you for blessing The Samaritan Women on your wedding day!
“I love that The Samaritan Women can benefit from my birthday, and Facebook makes it really easy for people to give.”
Jennifer Nazaire decided to do a Facebook fundraiser because it was a great and easy way for her friends and family to support a cause she believes in, and at the same time give her a birthday present. “I don’t really need presents and I don’t usually have much of a birthday celebration, but this was a way to recognize my birthday in a concrete way without needing to send a card or gift,” notes Nazaire. “I was surprised by the generosity of people I didn’t even know who saw the fundraiser and donated.”
Happy Birthday Jennifer, and thank you for your support of The Samaritan Women!
“Small acts of service can lead to huge change”
~ Caitlin Patrick
Caitlin’s first exposure to the issue of human trafficking came through a movie she watched in high school, which led her to do more research on the issue. Caitlin believes her faith in God led her to seek out a service opportunity. She first connected with The Samaritan Women in 2015 through Beth Halley, a family friend. After participating in volunteer orientation, she was matched up with a resident and started tutoring her in English on a weekly basis.
Caitlin has been an ongoing tutor, working with the residents preparing for their GED’s. She has provided high school level curriculum to assist other tutors. Caitlin teaches at a high school in Frederick County and has initiated a number of fundraising efforts in support of The Samaritan Women over the past several years, including a drive to collect supplies for the residents. As Beth Halley recounts “after one trip to her high school, my car was so packed that we called it toilet paper-palooza!”
Caitlin has also encouraged her students to advocate against human trafficking, and for the last three years has helped spearhead Human Trafficking 101 (and beyond) presentations at her school, Oakdale High School. These have been well attended by both students and members of the community.
Caitlin encourages others that “small acts of service are often the things that lead to huge change in our world. If your heart ever hurts when you hear about human trafficking, I encourage you to get plugged in. The work is not easy, but it is meaningful and very important.”
“We see God at work transforming women who have been subjected to the dark world”
~Rick and Jamie Harris
The world can be unbelievably dark. I did not know much about sex trafficking where so many are abused day by day. When I learned about it, I can remember thinking the human trafficking crisis is so devastating; the pictures and statistics are staggering and confirm the craziness and darkness of this world. I began to grow in awareness by attending seminars and volunteering with organizations that are pursuing freedom and restoration of those who have been sexually exploited.
True freedom and transformation comes from Christ, and my desire has always been to ensure that whatever organization I had the opportunity to partner with in anti-trafficking efforts would be rooted in Christ. About two years ago, there was a request for a couple to lead Bible study at The Samaritan Women and my wife and I were ecstatic about the opportunity. We knew this would be an opportunity to share our love for Christ, study His Word with the women of TSW, and be a part of God’s transformation process.
After three semesters at TSW, it has been such a tremendous blessing to study the scriptures with the women and see the spiritual fruit that has come about during their time of rest and transformation. By volunteering at TSW, not only do we help residents with their spiritual walk, but we also see God at work transforming women who have been subjected to the dark world. God uses The Samaritan Women to rescue and restore the hope of Him in these women’s lives and our own. What a privilege to be a part of the everlasting work of God and see firsthand how God moves. The world’s craziness and darkness doesn’t stand a chance.
“Justice for the oppressed is an issue that is close to God’s heart”
~Joe Paschal, Pastor at LifePoint Church, Reisterstown, Maryland
At LifePoint, we want to engage our church family in the things that are close to God’s heart. We believe God’s Word makes it clear that justice for the oppressed is one of those things. The issue of exploitation struck a chord in our hearts when we participated in Freedom Sunday for the past two years.
This year, we wanted to expand our influence to include our own backyard. We’ve always known about The Samaritan Women and the great ministry they do. We had done a couple of projects with them in the past. So we chose to get onboard with TSW in a more intentional way.
We highlighted TSW in our Thanksgiving services and challenged our church to find ways to support this organization. The congregation loved it! For the month of November, we were so excited to surprise TSW with a generous gift from our church.
We are big fans of TSW and the excellent ministry they consistently provide. And we can’t wait to see how the relationship develops as we connect with TSW.
“God Gives Us All Different Talents”
~ Dr. Woody Wooddell
Dr. Wooddell recalls the senior thesis presentation that first introduced him to the severity of human trafficking while attending Parents Weekend at Rice University with his daughter in 2013. In looking back, Dr. Wooddell can see how God was preparing his heart to do His work by placing the issue of human trafficking in front of him in various ways, such as a TV news story and through a guest speaker at his church who had a powerful testimony, Jeanne Allert. As he sat and listened to Jeanne’s story, he recalled the conversation with his daughter, remembered the news story and felt God opening his heart to these victims, compelling him to get involved. As Dr. Wooddell acknowledges, “God gives us all different talents to serve His people, and mine is dentistry.”
A few months later, Dr. Wooddell and his partner Joe Passaro started providing residents at TSW with free dental care. As TSW staff member Allison Deitz notes,“The residents at TSW no longer look in the mirror and see evidence of abuse, neglect, or substance use. They are no longer ashamed to smile when meeting a new person or taking a photo.” Dr. Wooddell has never sought or accepted recognition for the countless hours and kindnesses he has bestowed on the residents of TSW. He describes the blessing he and his staff receive as “no greater joy than to see their (residents) tears of joy when they see their new smile for the first time, and I am reminded that I am so glad that God had prepared my heart to serve The Samaritan Women.”
“I began to seek God as to what my part could be in helping such an incredible organization, no matter how small.”
Last October Corrie March was invited to a women’s conference where she heard Jeanne Allert speak on sex trafficking. She had heard about sex trafficking previously, but never in such an explanatory way. She could think of nothing else the rest of that weekend. “it was riveting and jolted me to the core,” notes Corrie.
As Corrie remembers, she began to pray for the Lord to touch hearts and open the door for her employer to make a donation to The Samaritan Women. Even though The Samaritan Women is not directly located in Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association’s funding district, because she was so passionate about what TSW is doing, they decided to move forward with a donation. As Corrie notes,“It took faith to believe that God is able to do exceedingly more than what we can even think or ask Him to do, and He did just that.”
“My experience on a mission trip to TSW started an unwavering desire to have a restorative home for women in my home state.”
Cindy Crawford first came to TSW on a mission trip in 2015 and remembers,“I honestly didn’t know what I was in for, and did not feel capable of making an impact.” That experience made a lasting impact on her and upon her return to her home in Louisville, Kentucky, Cindy immediately started praying that God would use her to help His precious children. God began to open doors and opportunities that she would never have known to seek out.
She returned to TSW on three more mission trips, including the Immersion Experience in 2019 that was filled with education about the issue of human trafficking. She recounts that one of the most impactful parts of her trip was seeing the success of the ladies in the graduate house whom she had met on previous trips and notes,“this is what a house is all about, seeing them succeed beyond the program.”
Cindy is in the process of filing for her non-profit status, speaking with local agencies, survivors, law enforcement, and other residential program directors to learn more about the issue. Our hope is that Cindy’s start-up program will become one of our 2020 shelter mentees. As Cindy notes“my prayer is that God would use me to empower sexually exploited women to find strength in Jesus.”