That’s the estimated number of human trafficking victims across the world right now.
25% are children.
75% are women and girls.
Estimates for victims in the United States number in the hundreds of thousands.
Every one of those numbers has a name, a face, a soul. Every one bears the image of God. Every one needs recovery and restoration.
That’s what motivates Debbie Perry-Smith and S.A.F.E. Rockies, the donor-advised fund she launched earlier this year. God is bringing together her work and volunteer experiences—from city government to assisting law enforcement to serving with various non-profits—to eradicate sex trafficking and exploitation in the Rocky Mountain region.
“Most people are like I was and don’t understand how widespread this issue is,” she says. “Now it’s come to the forefront and we have the opportunity to start doing something about it.”
S.A.F.E. stands for Strategic Alliance to Fight Exploitation and that’s exactly what they do. Through their unique funding strategy, the alliance identifies the greatest needs and brings together faith-based and non-faith-based organizations to allocate donations that support prevention, recovery-rescue, and restoration. In just a few months of existence, more than 20 organizations, including survivors, law enforcement, and business and community members, are now part of the alliance, with more looking to join.
“The initial response was off the charts. Many of these non-profits don’t have a platform to discuss their work—they’re so busy doing the work. S.A.F.E. Rockies gives them a level of collaboration they might never have reached before.”
Collaboration isn’t just the fruit of Debbie and S.A.F.E. Rockies’ work. It’s also where it began.
Debbie was on the prayer team for a Women Doing Well event in Denver in 2014 and the next year served as a city leader. As the women who gathered discovered more about living and giving in God’s image, there was excitement about channeling that passion into something that could make a difference in the region. The group was led to focus on human trafficking.
With the purpose established, they needed a plan to set work in motion. At a National Christian Foundation gathering, Debbie was introduced to the work of SAFE in Washington, an organization served by Heather Tuininga, a board member of NCF-Northwest. “Their model of convening ministries together to make a difference inspired us. It was clear that this is what we were supposed to do in the Rocky Mountain region,” Debbie remembers. “It was the fuse that sparked S.A.F.E. Rockies.”
God put another piece of the puzzle in place when Debbie attended a Women Doing Well facilitator training in Houston. After the event was finished, she attended church with a friend and was introduced to the founder and director of a non-profit that provides rescue and emergency assistance for victims of sex trafficking. That divine appointment set the course for the launch of S.A.F.E. Rockies in April 2019.
“We’re now in funding mode,” Debbie says. “Our Phase One priority is to fund a local rescue hotline and a 60-day emergency assessment program that gives those caught in trafficking short-term housing, followed by long-term transitional housing and resources they need to get out and start a new life.”
Whether it’s connecting victims with resources, ministries with people and places to serve, or donors with opportunities to make a lasting difference, Debbie’s purpose, passion, and plan, manifested in the work of S.A.F.E. Rockies, is changing lives throughout Colorado.
You can learn more about the work of S.A.F.E. Rockies at https://www.saferockies.org or by emailing Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.