LightHouse In the News
Formally Hepzibah House (Jan 2022)
Quantum Foundation taking grant applications
Shannon Hawkins, the director of community engagement for the Quantum Foundation and Becky Dymond, president and founder of Hepzibah House” visit WPTV.
Uber drivers to help human trafficking victims
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A new set of eyes and ears, to keep our streets safe. Your Uber driver will be looking for something specific the next time you get in the car. – CBS 12
“I think it’s fantastic if it works,” Uber driver Frank Martino said. “If it saves one person it’s worth it.” Martino, who’s from Deerfield Beach, is a father of a 16-year-old boy and also a full-time Uber driver. Now he’s part of a new campaign to spot victims being trafficked on our streets. Uber is teaching its drivers about the telltale signs: riders who are taken to multiple hotels for short periods of time or riders who are with another person who seems to be controlling them. “Get to a safe spot, try to get ‘em out of danger and report it as fast as you can,” Martino said.
Florida is the third state in the nation for human trafficking. In 2017, 329 sex and human trafficking cases were reported in the Sunshine State. Within the last 10 years, more than 4,500 victims of human trafficking have been rescued in Florida.
“I think it’s brilliant,” said Becky Dymond, a licensed mental health counselor. Dymond runs a safe house in Palm Beach County for sex trafficking victims and is glad to hear that Uber is training drivers to be able to spot victims of sex trafficking. “It’s just another opportunity for someone to leave the life in a safe way,” she said. Dymond says telling Uber drivers what to look for is a big step in getting women help. “More eyes are a good thing,” she said, adding that she hopes Lyft will do it too.
Meanwhile, Martino hopes he can make a difference. “People don’t want to get involved,” he said. “Me, I’m different. I’d get involved.”
Uber drivers are being instructed if they find a woman who appears to be a victim of sex trafficking and she wants help, they can call 911 or a human trafficking hotline.
Overcoming a nightmare: Human trafficking survivors finds comfort in baking
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — The aftermath of human trafficking can be a long and painful fight. But for one group of survivors, relief comes from baking handmade dog treats.
“I remember before this help going to sleep and asking God if I can just sleep and never wake up,” said Susy, a sex trafficking victim. The memories of her painful journey to freedom still haunt Susy to this day. “I am still dealing with a lot of things I lost. I lost my two kids. I lost my ex-husband, which was my husband in the moment,” she said. Susy, who is from Costa Rica, said she was trafficked by her best friend’s mother-in-law after her friend offered her a free one-week vacation in the U.S. “Since that day, she put me in that apartment in Virginia and I slept with a lot of men,” Susy said. “I started my schedule at 8 a.m. and it was over between 10 and 11 p.m. from Monday through Sunday.
The emotional physical and mental abuse she endured during those years can be hard to forget, but there’s one thing that helps: Baking organic animal treats.
“Form me its healing,” Susy said.
Susy and other survivors work a regular 8-hour shift at a safe house called Hepzibah House. They mix the ingredients, stir them in a large bowl, roll the dough and cut it into pieces. Then, they put the animal treats in a dehydrator for 16 hours before heating them in the oven. Once they’re ready, they are packaged and sent to local pet stores and a green market in Pompano.
For Susy, doing this job helps her live somewhat of the normal life she’s dreamed of for years. “Now baking the treats, I know that I have honest money, good money that is doing something good, not only for me but for someone else,” she said. “It’s going to put a big smile in the person who gives that treat to that dog, that dog is going to eat it happy, so I am happy.”
The women get paid for their work and are taught how to manage their money. Every package of Zibah treats sold goes to helping women like Susy.
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