Sarah*, a survivor of human trafficking, had escaped exploitation only to find herself homeless, broke and carrying a criminal record she didn’t deserve, making it hard to find employment. That was until April 2020 when she was referred to Survivor Ventures’ crisis shelter funded by United Way. There she received all the support she needed to stabilize, heal and attain economic empowerment.
Sarah got her ID cards, started working through her trauma with the help of a treatment team and even found employment through the organization’s Survivors to Entrepreneurs program. She earned above minimum wage and found confidence and purpose working at a local coffee shop. Now she’s developing skills in Microsoft Office Suite and working on an administrative assistant certification through a local university. As the first employee at this local small business, she acts as the owner’s right-hand, supporting business operations and helping build the foundation for success.
The skills and experiences Sarah is gaining are helping her build her resume and chart a path for her future. Ready for her next step, she recently secured rental assistance through the YWCA, another United Way funded agency, and will be moving into a home of her own very soon.
Sarah’s story is an illuminating example of the importance of collaboration in creating a brighter future for our neighbors in need. At United Way of South Hampton Roads, we know fulfilling our mission of solving the 757’s biggest problems is only possible by working with partners across our community. The most significant impact happens when nonprofits work together, utilizing their unique strengths, to holistically address the multiple areas of a person’s life that can build stability – employment, housing, mental health treatment, financial assistance, education and training, and a community of support. We are thankful for our partners and neighbors like Sarah who use these supports as a launching pad for the future they dream of and deserve.
*Name changed to protect privacy