The Jensen Project, Inc., owns and manages a stabilization home, Starla House, with our nonprofit operating partner, Rescue Hill.
The goal of a stabilization home is to serve as a midpoint for survivors of sex trafficking between emergency housing and long-term care or independent living. Our home is designed to help survivors regain a sense of safety and control over their lives while they take a deep breath and figure out what to do next. Each survivor’s story is unique, and so is their path to stabilization. We believe stabilization is not a program—it’s a destination.
At Starla House, each client is given a roadmap from early-stage care to long-term stabilization in the form of their own Individual Care Plan (ICP). Through respite, relationship, and a personalized self-care ICP, clients can choose from a 30-day or 90-day stay at Starla House to provide them time and resources to achieve their own individual goal of stabilization.
After staying at Starla House, some of our clients will decide to find jobs and build new lives. Others may decide to go to a long-term care facility where they can receive intense therapy and services before they move forward. The choice is up to each individual survivor, but we will offer to walk with them for a lifetime and provide encouragement and support.
The wind whipped cruelly through the gas station pumps, and stinging rain pelted Janet Jensen‘s windshield. She watched the disturbing interaction between a man and a young woman in the parking lot with dread. As an advocate, she had seen—and even experienced—domestic violence before, but something about this was different. Janet learned the woman’s name was Starla. She was the first victim of human trafficking Janet had encountered. Unable to help Starla that night, Janet drove home thinking about what she had seen and how she could help more women like Starla. In that moment, she determined she would learn more.
Across town, Amanda Pettit picked up Kayla on the side of the road. She was covered in bruises from her trafficker and was in desperate need of services. Amanda did what she could to help, but as she drove home that night, she knew that Kayla needed more specialized, immediate support than the local women’s shelter could provide. In that moment, the idea for Rescue Hill‘s emergency beds was sparked.
Although they took place years apart, these moments ignited action in the hearts of two women who have been called to the fight against human trafficking. Today, The Jensen Project fuels strategic partnerships in the fight against sexual violence, and Rescue Hill advocates and provides direct services to human trafficking survivors through partnerships with law enforcement and emergency overnight beds.
Once a survivor has lived in the house for 45 days, staff members will ask them, “What is something you have always wanted to do but never got the chance to? What is something small you could do in the near future, if money were not an obstacle?”
The goal is to fulfill each resident’s Hope Day on their 90-day anniversary of living at Starla House. That gives staff members 45 days to orchestrate resident desires. We want survivors to know that their needs are not “too much,” despite what their traffickers have taught them to believe. Kindness should not be transactional. They deserve happiness, and they deserve to feel worthy.
Donating $500 can ensure that a survivor’s Hope Day becomes a reality.
Sex trafficking survivors don’t always have healthy families, or family members that live in the area. That’s why staff members take Starla House residents on group outings at least once per week: we want to spark neuroplasticity, the brain’s natural ability to rewire neuropathways, and teach residents that they have a strong support system. They have people they can rely on, and they can have new experiences that are safe.
Outings have included:
Starla House outings may be transformed into different special occasions, depending on partnerships, time of year, and other factors.
For example, Sugar Shack, a local beauty salon, came to Starla House on a day that their hair salon was closed to offer residents any hair service they wanted. Between braids, new color, haircuts, extensions, and more, Sugar Shack offered more than $2,500 in services that day.
A staff member noticed that a Starla House resident was particularly despondent. After learning about the resident’s connection to and affinity for music, staff gathered support to bring a piano into the house and give the resident a ukulele to use as she pleased.
When a resident graduated from the stabilization house to more permanent housing, Starla House threw her an ’80s-themed, karaoke “See Ya Later!” party to celebrate her achievement.
“It’s about building community,” Amanda Pettit, Executive Director of Rescue Hill and Starla House, says. “We also have weekly dinners on Sunday nights at the house. A volunteer comes in with her husband and their kids to make dinner for everybody.”
At The Jensen Project, we believe we’re Stronger Together, and the great work staff members are doing at Starla House drives that point home.
By donating $2,000, you ensure that trafficking survivors experience the simple joys that life has to offer through a planned outing.