Street's Hope provides services designed to support and empower people who have experienced human trafficking. We envision a world where all people can choose the direction of their own lives, free from exploitation.
Voluntad means the ability to choose the direction of your own life, with freedom and dignity. In order to help you make the changes you want to make, and find the safety you need, we provide the support and resources you need.
We are the resource experts, but YOU are the expert of you.
Street's Hope provides different categories of services, all designed to support and empower people who have experienced exploitation through human trafficking (labor or sex,) and to educate and empower our community.
We understand all the ways being trafficked can tear apart a life - homelessness and lack of housing, unemployment, mental health concerns and substance use impact most survivors at one time or another. You aren't alone. Whether you are in crisis and need safety planning, or need help accessing resources, we are here. We have groups to help people learn how to manage all the stresses you might be under. We have individual counseling services, or can help you find the mental health services you need.
We also want to educate our community and raise awareness and compassion about human trafficking. Call us for a training, or to attend an event to talk about this problem. We are here for our community too.
Street's Hope was born in 2004 when a woman named Leanne Downing looked out of her world and saw other women living in a reality that she wanted to understand. She wanted to find a way to connect with and offer hope to these women, and began the practice of street outreach to find out how and where those connections could be made. Over time, Street's Hope added programs and services, but street outreach has always been the foundation of our work.
When I began as Executive Director, I wanted to be part of this practice as a way of finding my own relationship with the history, the mission, and the program of Street's Hope, and also as a way to discover a direct and visceral connection to the issue of sex work and human trafficking. The first time I went with a group of staff, we saw a young woman passed out on the floor of a motel room, door wide open. At the same time, men, women and children flocked to our car, parked in the motel parking lot, in need of condoms, tampons, shampoo, toilet paper, and toothbrushes for the little kids. These images are sharp and clear and always with me.
I learned the names of the motels that line East Colfax: Sand and Sage, Shepard's, the Airway, Branding Iron, Seven Star. I spent early mornings every week in the winter cold, watching the Audis and Porsches slip in and out of the parking lots where women stand just behind the doors, waiting for the drivers to fill the spots in front of their rooms. I learned the names of some of the women, and learned to look out on the street before we ventured out with our bags of offerings, because every day is different. Some days it clearly isn't safe.
More than anything I have heard or witnessed at Street's Hope, street outreach has moved me, brought me to tears, and made me determined to find the ways that we can make a difference. To me, it is the heart of the matter, as compelling and necessary as any of the services we provide. To be in the presence of the sheer determination to survive that walks that street, to witness the rage at circumstance that cripples and destroys bright souls, to wrap your arms around a woman who believes that no one sees her, is to be forever changed.