Visiting the Hope Center once a year, the University of Indianapolis women’s volleyball team dedicates their time to put together the center in order to help sex trafficking victims recover and get their life back to normal.
Head Volleyball Coach Jason Reed first found out about the cause through his church who “adopted a room” at the center. When a room is adopted, this means that they work on getting it painted and fully furnished to make it liveable and ready for the women coming in, according to Reed.
“It was just kind of like, well this is pretty cool, we should bring the girls here,” Reed said. “That was kind of the beginning of it. The first time we went, they showed us around by taking us on a tour. And we did some painting and trim [work] and just did some grunt work. It was just a cool experience.”
According to the Hope Center’s website, their mission is “To be a Christ centered residential campus committed to healing the personal and building the professional lives of women coming out of human trafficking.” They provide education, food, shelter and mental health services to those women who have just come out of it. The Hope Center moved in October of 2016 and received their first residents in November, two months after.
According to Reed, the center has thought of everything possible to get the women and their lives back on track. The campus includes a boutique, coffee shop, prayer barn, dog center and has plans for a school where the women’s children can go while they are staying in the center.
The volleyball team visited the center during preseason this year and did yard work, according to Reed. Reed said that they did things such as weed whacking, laying mulch, digging holes and anything they need help with, in general.As far as team bonding goes, volleyball manager Kadie Hawks says that visits to the Hope Center helped them bond.
“I think that as a whole, we appreciate each other a lot more,” Hawks said. “We get so focused on going through volleyball, going to classes and those things are good and they matter, but there’s other things out there that matter too.”
Outside of the teams’ community service, volleyball manager Rachel Irbe donated her time to the Hope Center this past summer. According to Irbe, she would help them with meal planning, which consisted of her giving them ideas of what meals they could make each week with the food that they had, in order to save them money and not having to buy groceries each week.
“For me, helping the girls feels really enlightening,” Irbe said. “It’s kind of the dark, underground thing that people don’t know about. People think that slavery is over, but it still happens, just using people for sex and work. People don’t know that human trafficking is a form of slavery that is still here. We’re giving them money to be able to go out and fight that and giving women an opportunity to go and restart their lives.”
The team started their fundraising efforts for the Hope Center this year by selling t-shirts, wristbands and accepting donations. Last year the team donated around $3,000 to the non-profit organization and are hoping to do the same this year, according to Reed. T-shirts are currently being sold for $10 along with the wristbands for a donation.
“We want to be able to give as much to them as possible,” Hawks said. “We realized that we have so much we can do and so much we can give, that we realized we could make more of an impact if we did it all season long and push for people to buy t-shirts and make more of an effort through the season.”