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Wichita organization receives $1,200 to help sex trafficking victims rebuild

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 9:46 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - They got a boost with a new building, but there’s still more work to be done, more women to help, and more spa products to be made. That’s why KWCH12 and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers decided to lend Raise My Head a Helping Hand.

April Owen makes spa products in that new kitchen from scratch, much like she’s rebuilt her life over the last two years. She isn’t afraid to tell people where she’s been, addicted to drugs and a victim of sex trafficking.

I became an addict around 18. I got addicted to pain pills,” said Owen. “I got clean at one point, so I started bartending. My boss ended up becoming my abuser, which led me right back into my pill addiction.”

Owen went through many ups and downs over the last 10-plus years. She says she went through two rehabilitation programs and failed.

“You’re just picking up pieces at nine months of healing emotionally and from your trauma. And you’re trying to get all your identification back, your IDs and stuff like that, so you can work,” said Owen.

She says she needed more long-term help to heal emotionally and get her life back together. That’s what the Raise My Head Foundation had to offer: a two-year residential program to help her rebuild from the ground up.

“I was really nervous about it, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Owen.

She got her high school diploma, started college, and got a job. Owen says Raise My Head gave her a place to gather her thoughts and slowly rebuild.

The business making and selling spa products helps these women gain work skills. The new building gives them space and equipment to keep the business going.

Pat Jones, Executive Director of Raise My Head, said, “This building is going to be key in our enterprise, and we’ll be able to bring in more people.”

She told Eyewitness News the Wichita Area Builders Association donated all the materials and labor and the Beech Family Foundation donated the industrial equipment.

“We’re not doing it in the kitchen anymore. We’re not assembling it on the dining room table. We’re not shipping it out of the living room. This is where the operation will be,” said Jones.

Their next big challenge is getting into local retail stores. If they can make a profit, that means more support for women who need it.

KWCH12 and DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers decided to lend the Raise My Head Foundation a Helping Hand of $1,200 to overcome their next hurdles.

So what’s next for Owen? She graduates from the program in January. Then she plans to get an apartment, get a new job, get her drivers license for the very first time, and finish college.

“I’m very excited. I would have never had the confidence to live on my own if I hadn’t come through this program,” said Owen.

She wants women to know there is help available. Click here for more information about the Raise My Head Foundation.

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