KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Relentless Pursuit Outreach and Recovery (RPOR) was created to help support law enforcement and nonprofits in the fight to end commercial sexual exploitation.
Kansas City, Missouri, Police already have joined efforts with RPOR to change how they help victims of sex trafficking in the city.
“That’s just no way to live, and any decent human being can see that – that people don’t want to do this and they shouldn’t have to do this," said Sgt. Brad Dumit, with KCPD's vice unit. "There’s other alternatives to it, and hopefully we can point them in the direction of the other alternatives, and it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Candice Young, who volunteers at RPOR's drop-in center, Christine's Place, and is herself a survivor of sex-trafficking, said that Relentless Pursuit provides women who have been prostituted a place for safety, a hot shower, a fresh pair of clothes, food and social services.
“If we could just give them that relief, just for that little moment of time, it makes them feel kind of normal," Young said, emphasizing how instrumental feeling validated is when it comes to recovery.
Lee Gibson, who created RPOR, said the partnership with police is key to their work.
“They do their law enforcement piece, but you can’t arrest your way out of this," Gibson said. "I mean, that’s the bigger story - is that collaboration between law-enforcement, social services, nonprofits."
Whether it's Care Beyond the Boulevard for medical services, or Value Unconditional for trauma counseling, on any given week, Christine's Place works with more than a dozen local nonprofits, but the agency said what they're lacking now are volunteers.
“Some of these girls are so close they are a couple decisions away from being on a better track - we just need all the help we can get," Gibson said.
On the frontlines helping women take back their lives, is Candice Young, who has been off the streets for four-years.
“I just had to be a part of it you know I just had to," she said.
“I mean being a survivor myself... not forgetting where you came from," Young said, as she wiped away tears. "Just giving back, giving the girls hope - like if I can do it, anybody can do it.”
As someone who was once there herself, Young said she hopes survivors know they are not alone, "and that I love them and we are here whenever they’re ready, we’re here.”
Right now, Christine's Place is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday.
With more volunteers, Gibson said, the drop-in center could be open more days during the week.
Anyone who is looking to help RPOR can sign up for a four-hour shift to volunteer with the girls, or to provide dinner. On the job volunteer-training is provided and background checks are required.
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