Place of Hope | Charity’s Story

Place of Hope is a unique, state-licensed children’s organization providing emergency and long-term, family-style foster care. The dedicated staff provides family outreach and intervention, maternity care, safety for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, transitional housing and support services, and foster care recruitment and support. The Charles Lafitte Foundation (CLF) is proud to partner with this impressive organization.

Suzanne Citron (Co-Founder of CLF) and Jennifer Vertetis (President of CLF) visited Place of Hope in December 2016 and were able to see firsthand how great the impact of Place of Hope is. They emerged from their visit feeling that Place of Hope was one of the most effective and compassionate organizations they have encountered.

Abandoned, neglected, abused and exploited youth pass through Place of Hope each and every day. At Place of Hope, these youth are given a chance to heal both physically and emotionally.

Exploitation and human trafficking is on the rise in the United States and specifically in Florida. Florida is number three in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking, and Palm Beach County ranks as the third county in Florida with the highest incidence of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline for suspected cases of human trafficking (National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Annual Report, 2014; HT Statistics, 2015). Place of Hope feels the rise of human trafficking and has aided many girls trapped in trafficking rings.

Charity, at the young age of 14, was one of the victims of this crime. Fortunately, she was able to find refuge, solace and healing within the walls of Place of Hope. Her name has been changed for confidentiality.

“When I was 14 years old I thought I had found love.  He showed me all the attention I wanted, told me I was beautiful and that he loved me.  It was not long before he began selling me multiple times a night and would take all the money earned – I had nothing.  I was arrested one night and brought to Place of Hope’s Hope House.  What I feared to be the worst evening turned out to be God rescuing me.  I spent the next year healing physically and emotionally.  At Hope House I learned what true love is and my value.  I was able to graduate high school at 16, testify against my traffickers and see them sent to prison!  I am excited to see what the future holds for me.”

“We have had several confirmed cases of human trafficking in our Family Cottages and our Transitional Independent Living Program throughout the years; however, there have been numerous suspected cases throughout all of our programs,” says Sarah Chafin, Lead Grand Liason at Place of Hope. In addition to this, we have served 29 victims of domestic minor sex trafficking in our safe house, Hope House, Florida, since inception in October 2012 (an unduplicated number). The number of girls that we serve per year fluctuates depending on the turnover rate at the safe house. Turnover can be affected by girls’ graduation, running away, etc.”

Some girls are not able to flourish and find the healing they need. But like Charity, many are. “We are proud to say that many of our girls have secured employment and enrolled in post-secondary education as well as maintained positive relationships with our staff,” says Chafin.

Place of Hope offers comprehensive services designed to end the cycle of abuse and neglect to 300 children and youth on a daily basis. Providing programs that assist individuals, and particularly youth, in finding healing and restoration which will lead to a successful life is a shared vision of both Place of Hope and The Charles Lafitte Foundation. Individual stories, such as Charity’s, motivate both organizations to continue their mission.

To learn more, visit www.placeofhope.com