Looking at the broken shutters, falling shingles and holes in the foundation of a rundown house in Somerset County, Paula Eppley-Newman doesn’t see a fixer-upper. Instead, she sees hope.
“Be able to start a fresh life: to me that’s powerful and empowering,” said Eppley-Newman.
She’s the chairperson of Trinity Farms Center for Healing and is also on the Cambria County Human Trafficking Response Team. The team met Friday for the first time since President Trump signed a new law that will make it easier for states and victims of human trafficking to sue the websites that enabled their abuse.
The response team is trying to create a protocol for law enforcement and healthcare workers. They’re also looking for funding and shelters for victims of sex trafficking.
Elizabeth Echevarria spoke to members at the meeting. She founded Living in Liberty near Pittsburgh, a safe house for victims of sex trafficking that provides them with counseling, education and job training.
“It is a big need. There’s still a shortage of housing across the country,” said Echevarria.
“It inspires me and it’s exactly what we’ve been thinking about what we need in our community,” said Eppley-Newman.
Through Trinity Farms Center for Healing, Eppley-Newman wants to rebuild the rundown house and turn it into a shelter for women in need.
“People that have been trafficked, people that have gone through recovery, people that are transitioning to the community,” Eppley-Newman said.
Next week, volunteers will repair the building’s foundation. Then it will take at least $40,000 – and many more volunteers- to get the shelter up-and-running.
“We need supplies, we need materials, we need funding,” said Eppley-Newman.
Paula wants to call the shelter “Hope House” because she said by the time it’s finished, it will have been built by hope and, of course, hard work.
“To help even just one person makes everything that we’re doing worthwhile,” Eppley-Newman said.
To learn more about Trinity Farms Center for Healing and how to volunteer, contact them.
You can also donate to the organization to help build the shelter through this Community Foundation for the Alleghenies fund.