Since our 2008 inception, we have reached out to over 1500 females and have helped more than 70 survivors successfully exit the sex trafficking lifestyle. We have accomplished this by scouring neighborhoods in the middle of the night in our 2010 Chevy Express passenger van, in search of distressed victims.
Stephanie’s Day Off?
Stephanie parked the 12 passenger Dreamcatcher van on Ashland. Her Saturday morning had been exhausting. A large Dreamcatcher event and the regular dropping off of Dreamcatcher girls afterwards had left her hungry and tired. She was looking forward to sitting down with her husband to the nice brunch he had planned to celebrate her day off from her day job at Access Community Health Center. You see, Stephanie works a 9 to 5, yet is committed to serving trafficking survivors and high risk girls in her spare time, oftentimes in the wee hours of the night.
Walking down the street towards the restaurant, a girl stopped her. Under normal circumstances, it would have been the other way around during outreach. In a single glance, Stephanie could tell that this was a working girl, but since it was her day off and she was running late, she didn’t have much time to chat. Nevertheless, when the girl called out to her, she turned, smiling and ready to help.
“So the Dreamcatcher Foundation, that’s those people who work with prostitutes, right?”
“Yeah.” Stephanie replied.
“Well, that has nothing to do with me,” the girl retorted proudly.
“Good.” Stephanie is the founder of Dreamcatcher’s harm reduction approach. She knew not to push it, not to force the girl to say anything she was not ready to say. “It was really nice to meet you though,” she added and went on her way.
A few weeks later, Stephanie’s phone rang as she was walking into a meeting at work. “Hi, I know you don’t remember me, but I met you like a month ago. I said something about your van.”
“I do remember you.” Stephanie responded. “What’s going on? Are you alright?”
“No. Look, I know that I said I wasn’t, you know, someone you would help, but I was, you know, lying. And I need help. Someone is chasing me and wants to hurt me …and I don’t know what to do.”
Stephanie, getting concerned, quickly contacted Brenda, the Executive Director of Dreamcatcher and whose status as a survivor, counselor and advocate has given her almost 50 years of experience with human trafficking victims. Brenda quickly heard the bullet points and told Stephanie to get on it and get that girl out of there.
“Alright, honey, I know you don’t know me but I’m going to need you to trust me.”
“I want you to get in a cab and come to me. I am at 35th and Monroe. I will be waiting there to help you.”
“I don’t have money for a cab. I can’t take a cab,” the girl cried into the phone.
“I told you you are going to have to trust me,” Stephanie said calmly. “I will pay the cab when you arrive. I have you covered and I will make you safe. Just trust me.”
Since that day, that young girl has gone through many different therapies and rehabs. She has gotten an education and job training, and has become a role model to other Dreamcatcher girls. Recently, she was reunited with her children that she thought she would never see again. Their family is now finally whole.
Sometimes, a van with big letters on it can be an eye sore, sometimes it can be in your way, but, our van has, on more than one occasion, allowed us to save lives. With your help, we hope to expand our resources to help even more.