"Voices from the Heart" to benefit women recovering from prostitution


Voices from the HeartCincinnati Union Bethel’s largest fundraising event in support of the nonprofit’s Off the Streets program — takes place Friday, Feb. 13, but if you reserve your spot prior to Wednesday at noon and post a photo of yourself on the nonprofit's Facebook page you’ll receive $10 worth of free raffle tickets at the door.
 
The Off the Streets program empowers women who are involved in prostitution to break the cycle and move toward a life of safety and fulfillment.
 
According to Cincinnati Police, drugs and prostitution are the two most common crimes reported. And it’s a dangerous lifestyle, according to Tracy Megison, Cincinnati Union Bethel’s development administrative associate.
 
“We have clients who have been shot, stabbed and thrown out of cars,” Megison says. “Prostituted women have experienced significant life trauma.”
 
The program provides a safe place for women to receive support and mentorship, as each individual involved is paired with a peer facilitator — a woman who once knew a life of prostitution but has since recovered.
 
“The peer-driven approach helps to reduce the shame and stigma around prostitution, thus making women more likely to engage in services,” Megison says. “This model provides the women with positive role models and demonstrates that change is possible. One client actually knew the facilitators on the streets, and seeing them clean and healthy inspired her to stay in the program.”
 
By attending Voices from the Heart, the program will be able to continue assisting women like Tonya, for example, better their lives and recover from the cycle of addiction and prostitution.
 
“Tonya attended Miami University, where she became an alcoholic. She dropped out and hooked up with a drug user,” Megison says. “She says, ‘The only time I had any relief was when I was high, but even then I couldn’t take away the knowledge of everything I had done to the ones I loved and myself and the sense of impending doom, knowing I would die or end up in jail.’ Today, Tonya has two children and runs her own business. She is active in AA, sponsoring other women.”

Do Good:

•    Register for Voices from the Heart to support the Off the Streets program, starting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center downtown.

•    Post your photo to Cincinnati Union Bethel's Facebook page to get $10 worth of raffle tickets at Friday's event.

•    Support Cincinnati Union Bethel by donating, and educate yourself and others about issues like human trafficking, as it's more common than you might think.
 

Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a freelance writer, adjunct English composition instructor and server at Orchids at Palm Court. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.
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