MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — A local nonprofit in downtown Sarasota is helping survivors of human trafficking.

What You Need To Know

  • Selah Freedom, a Sarasota nonprofit, has been hard at work helping survivors of human trafficking off the streets for the last 12 years

  • Most of their work is through community outreach, with volunteers meeting with survivors and supplying backpacks with supplies, like blankets and soap

  • According to the nonprofit, 50% of victims online are between the ages of 12 to 15-years-old

For 12 years, Selah Freedom has been hard at work to get survivors off the streets. Their work is guiding them down a path to recovery.

“It’s meeting their basic needs," said Gabrielle Triplett as she packed bags with helpful supplies.

“They’re very grateful to have a pair of clean clothes on, a pair of clean underwear, to wash their hair for — possibly — the first time in weeks,” she said.

The bags will be given to survivors of human trafficking. Triplett understands their needs because she was once in their shoes.

“I graduated the Selah Freedom residential program four years ago and now I’ve been on the Selah Freedom team for the past four months as the volunteer advocate," she said.

As an advocate, Triplett is often the first to speak with survivors. That was pivotal in helping her.

“I’m also able to process with advocates — they’re there 24-7 — and encourage me and pour so much love into me," said Triplett. "They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, so much that now I believe in myself.”

Through Selah’s residential program, Triplett has been able to receive her GED, even finding work along the way. It's just one of the nonprofit's five programs.

“You get to see every day these lives change by the services that are provided and how resilient these survivors are in their journey," said Samantha Kolb, clinical director with Selah Freedom. "We’re kind of just along for their journey. It’s really them, they’re doing the hard work and we get to help them along their way on that healing path.”

Triplett said she is dedicated to helping others.

“I think the main thing for me is spreading more awareness and being able to have the beds for the survivors to go to when they need them," she said.

Since they started outreach 12 years ago, Selah has helped more than 6,000 survivors. According to the nonprofit, 50% of victims online are between the ages of 12 to 15-years-old.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking you can call 1-888-373-7888.