By Joy Millar for The Island Connection
Sharon Rikard returned to the I’On Meetinghouse on April 8 to deliver a presentation to the Women Inspired Through Stories group on her project, Doors to Freedom. Started in 2011 to lobby our state senate to pass anti sex trafficking laws for SC, Rickard’s greater goal was to provide a safe home for survivors of sex trafficking and the services needed to help them regain the life stolen from them.
Rikard started by helping with the basics of survival: providing transportation, advocacy and case management. Now, education, life skills training, health, nutrition, and personal growth are taught with individualized plans. Many of us do not realize the upward climb these girls and women have in front of them.
Often, they do not know what to do with feelings of peace or loving interaction.
Creating a safe, loving and nurturing space for victims is the vital first step to rebuilding their lives.
In 2016, Women Inspired Through Stories held their first fundraiser for Doors to Freedom. With these funds, grants and generous support from many others, Rikard was able to obtain a house for her mission. Future plans include partnering with Habitat for Humanity to convert “out” buildings on the property to provide the additional classroom and office space needed as the number of residents increases.
Today the house, which has been purchased, restored and lovingly decorated, is home to eight young women and on April 9, celebrated its one-year anniversary. It is the only such place in South Carolina.
Women Inspired Through Stories mission is to support groups that empower women and children through selfsufficiency and education. It is happy to support Doors to Freedom with its fourth fundraiser, raising over $16,000.
For information on Sharon Rikard’s project, Doors to Freedom, visit DoorsToFreedom.com.