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Human Trafficking Survivors Group Opens First Safe House


SARASOTA – Selah Freedom, a nonprofit organization committed to confronting the issue of human trafficking in Florida’s Gulf Coast through advocacy, training and restorative services, opened the doors to its first safe house Friday morning. Located at an undisclosed location to protect the privacy of those the organization serves, the safe house can house up to four women and is already filled to capacity with a waiting list. The facility is one of the first of its kind in Florida.


“I am confident the safe house will make a positive impact in the lives of our residents,” stated Elizabeth Melendez Fisher, President and CEO of Selah Freedom. “With the added protection of shelter for the survivors of human trafficking, their healing will be accelerated and we are confident they will be prospering out in the real world after fully completing our program.”

As part of the organization’s Residential Recovery Program, the group says that residents will be provided trauma counseling, support groups, like-skills training, education and career planning classes. Guided by a team of clinicians, counselors, live-in coaches and other volunteers, survivors staying in the safe house will be provided with the necessary life and recovery skills.

“I am honored to be helping these survivors in taking back control of their lives,” stated Melissa VanDyke, one of the live-in coaches. She continues, “I have always strongly believed no matter how broken you are, there is always hope.”

Behind Miami and Orlando, the Sarasota/Bradenton and Tampa Bay area is the third-largest hub for human trafficking. The issue was recently confronted in the groundbreaking investigative piece, The Stolen Ones, in the Herald Tribune, which ran in installments, beginning earlier this month.

Selah Freedom says that in order to be able to expand its services, additional funds will needed. The organization was presented with a $250,000 matching grant from the Pentecost Foundation and has until Dec. 31 to raise the remainder.

“This matching grant is an incredible opportunity for our organization,” said Fisher. “Approximately 90 percent of every dollar raised by Selah Freedom goes directly to helping survivors, each donation truly saves a life.”

For more information, or to help support Selah Freedom in achieving its $250,000 fundraising goal, visit www.SelahFreedom.com/selah-freedom-matching-opportunity, email info@SelahFreedom.com or call 941.302.2299.


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