Sex trafficking shelter adds reception services in GR

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The first survivor-led program in the state for those who have been sexually exploited or trafficked recently opened another door for those looking to open a new chapter in their lives.

“They trust me because I’ve been there, done that,” Leslie King, founder of Sacred beginnings, noted.

King was trafficked when he was 15 and lived in prostitution and drug addiction for 20 years on the streets of Grand Rapids.

For the past 20 years, she’s been on the same streets – no longer doing tricks – but instead transforming lives.

“A lot of women were like, ‘If Leslie can do it, I know it can be done. You know, it’s not easy, but I know it can be done,'” King said.

For more than 15 years, Sacred Beginnings has provided a way out for victims of trafficking. Over the years, King has become known to women on the street because she meets them where they are – walking into the shadows and talking with the women one on one.

“I love being outside. I love meeting them, crying with them, praying with them, smiling with them. There is hope,” King said.

This hope grew stronger with the addition of Hallowed Beginnings Home Base – a one-stop shop on Division Avenue where women looking to leave their old lives behind can show up and begin the journey.

“They look around and see butterflies and women that we’ve lost, and they sit here and take it all in. And then they start talking,” King said.

Home Base brings therapy, social workers and support groups together in a comfortable place where victims can feel safe.

“Can you just feel it, the atmosphere, the connection? The openness, the bright lights. It’s about hope and restoration,” said Katie Papke, survivor and licensed clinical social worker.

The Vice Chairman of the Board of Sacred Beginnings said the organization’s goal is to serve any type of trafficked person 24/7.

“…(This includes) youth, transgender people as well as victims of labor and sex trafficking,” Papke said.

It’s in the future. For now, they’re trying to get the message across that behind the door, down an alley behind the Division Avenue storefront, is a place where sacred new beginnings are born.

“We care. We care, not because you keep coming into it. We care because we’re trying to save your life, because there’s more to you than what you do,” King said.

Sacred Beginnings is made possible through financial support from foundations, grants, donations, and church donations. If you want to support, Click here.

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