By Sarah Spohn
While sex trafficking is a very dark crime, a new Lansing nonprofit is hoping to shed light on the unthinkable acts and provide a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
In 2007, after a missionary visited Shari Montgomery’s church and spoke about young women and sex trafficking, the cause spoke to the businesswoman. She knew she had to do something. Three years ago, Montgomery started a board for what would become the House of Promise, a nonprofit program that provides survivors of sex trafficking and abuse with a loving place to heal.
While it’s scary for Montgomery, former president of Pollack Glass Co., to leave a business she’s become so familiar with, a new cause is taking up space in her head and heart these days. The House of Promise will provide hope and inspiration for young girls and women.
“I want to bring out what they were created to be, and that’s not a trafficked girl,” she said.
Through housing, training, counseling and life skills lessons, the program sets out to equip its tenants with recovery and success in society.
While a house has not been purchased yet, every other step is in order to do so, Montgomery said. The house itself will have a few furry friends; something Montgomery believes will break down the first walls to the residents’ hearts. “I believe dogs give an unconditional love — which these girls have never felt,” she said.
The home will admit girls from the ages of 12-22, with multi-faceted plans to build a complex so graduates of the program can rent from the house. Equipped with a board of volunteers, crime advocates, social service workers and more, the House of Promise is always fundraising and helping to create community awareness.
Montgomery herself has dealt with abuse and hardships, and believes it is her purpose to help others overcome the odds. Despite never having children herself, she believes these young girls will be much like her kids.
The House of Promise is part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness about trafficking, called the Green Light Project. The nonprofit hosts golf outings, 5K fundraisers and an annual Beauty for Ashes gala with the MSU Women’s Resource Center.
Montgomery hopes the cause will speak to others, and the community can step up against the fight.
“We can do two things,” she said. “We can pretend it’s not happening and bury our heads, or we can get mad and roll up our sleeves and realize it really is here and say, ‘Not in my city, not on my watch.’”
For donations and more information, visit thehouseofpromise.com.