In 2007 Cassie Hammett decided to do something to help the poor in our community. Instead of donating a few canned goods to a food bank, Hammett chose to start an entire organization dedicated to helping people in poverty and the homeless.
The new organization was called The Hub, and they opened up a facility in downtown Shreveport called The Lovewell Center.
According to their website: “The Lovewell Center is The Hub’s primary outreach to the homeless and people in poverty. The Lovewell uses an empowering model of ministry, giving participants the opportunity to earn the resources they need while also being equipped to leave the grips of poverty.”
There are actually four different and unique businesses inside the Lovewell. Each of the areas are dedicated to a different part of a person’s needs. “The Dresswell: an apparel store, The Eatwell: a food pantry, The Smellwell: a laundromat and The Drinkwell: a coffee shop.”
Instead of giving all of this away, the Lovewell stores operate on a point system. When a person comes into the center, they are given a card, and through different activities such as meetings and classes a person can earn points. The points then can be used to buy goods or services within the Lovewell.
Hammett thinks it’s important that the people coming in earn points and purchase items instead of the items just being given to them. “This model challenges the entitlement mentality and teaches each person that they have value and worth and can do whatever they set their mind to,” the website reads.
The Hub Decides to help victims of Sex Traffickers
After getting the Lovewell Center up and running, The Hub Ministries decided they wanted to help yet another group of people in need. They turned their attention towards women who have been the victims of the sex industry and sex trafficking. They opened up a second facility in the Highlands neighborhood and named it Purchased: Not for Sale.
Purchased aims to provide “rescue, relationship, resources, and recovery to women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking.”
According to the website, “The sex industry, defined, is any business that either directly or indirectly provides sex-related products and services or adult entertainment. In practice, it is the buying and selling of sex or sexual activity through strip clubs, online escort businesses and websites, street prostitution and forced sexual slavery, otherwise known as sex trafficking.”
The volunteers at Purchased have three goals: outreach, housing, and diversion. Purchased volunteers meet weekly with women and children who are involved in the sex industry. Their main goal is to let these people know that Purchased exists and they can go there if they ever need help.
Purchased also provides emergency housing to shelter women and children once they decide to escape from sex work. They have four “safe houses” that are “designed to give women a safe and loving environment to live in.”
Reclaimed is the child housing arm of Purchased, and it works hand in hand with DCFS to find suitable foster homes that are staffed with dual-trained volunteers.
Purchased’s Diversion arm teamed up with the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office to provide women, who have been arrested as the result of the sex industry, an alternative to jail. These women are instead sent to Purchased and enrolled in their program. This way these women, who are really victims, are given the chance to escape the terrible world of the sex industry and sex trafficking.
Helping Women is Something That The SBC Does Well
Katie Walker, who starred in the film 8 Days, says that “There are a lot of champions in Shreveport that work to stop human trafficking. The city is proactive, but we can always do more.”
The film 8 Days tells the story of women who one way or another have become victims of human trafficking. The scariest part? The film is based on true events.
“We need people to become educated,” said Walker. She believes that if more people knew the truth about human trafficking, such as how it begins and what it looks like, the more we could do to stop it. She says there are several organizations, most staffed with volunteers like The Hub, who do great work in our community to help the victims of the sex industry. She also says that the Shreveport Police Department takes the issue very seriously and does a good job investigating it.
Still human trafficking, the sex industry, and prostitution are considered by some to be a topic that is taboo. The film 8 Days is hoping to change that. “The whole point of the film is to open dialogue,” Walker said.