“Breaking Ground and Building Futures: The Her Song Love Story”
By Sheri Webber
Her Song’s 2017 theme is “Breaking Ground.” This captures the forward momentum of lives healing, board members pioneering change, awareness taking hold, and the daily work of creating a safe place within the Jacksonville area. Survivors are breaking new ground in their lives as they build healthy connections, obtain job skills, complete a GED and plant seeds for tomorrow, Her Song guiding their steps. The Her Song team anticipates literally breaking ground, too, and soon hopes to realize the dream of a physical refuge for young victims in Northeast Florida. Currently looking at acreage and forming a team that will help make this dream a reality, hopes are high. Her Song anticipates a groundbreaking year.
Since Her Song’s inception in 2013, founder Rachel White, a local licensed mental health counselor and pastor’s wife, has led this Jacksonville nonprofit to become a trusted resource within the community. As part of Rachel’s life story, she answered God’s call to leave private therapy practice and is now an advocate and counselor to more than 75 women escaping human trafficking. Her Song receives referrals from various entities, including the FBI and Homeland Security, other local agencies and law enforcement. Rachel is leading the charge in addressing a large gap in services for survivors of human trafficking.
Across the world, an estimated 21 million men, women and children are victims of human trafficking – a modern-day slavery (International Labor Organization). Globally, most are forced into labor, but in the U.S., and our city in particular, sex-trafficking is predominant. Florida ranks the third highest in reports of human trafficking in America, its victims primarily young women. Her Song is in the business of helping victims re-discover worth, healing hearts, bodies and minds, and helping clients with a fresh start.
Her Song staff have training in trauma aftercare and restorative residential care. Rachel is the recipient of the FBI’s Community Leadership Award and will be recognized by the FBI in Washington, D.C. later this Spring for her efforts in Jacksonville. As she continues to speak all over the Jacksonville community and increase awareness about local human trafficking, she engages key volunteers from all spheres of influence. Her Song, along with Duval County Public School officials and staff, recently collaborated on a human trafficking prevention curriculum for 8th grade health and science students which will reach more than 3,200 students countrywide.
One of Her Song’s greatest priorities at present is the establishment of a safe home. One of the greatest needs Her Song sees on a daily basis is the need for safe, secure housing. It is difficult to get established and heal from trauma and abuse when a human trafficking survivor doesn’t have a stable place to live. In addition to a refuge of safety and peace for young women, they also need healthy connections with trustworthy people – a place to rediscover their worth and value. Their journey is a difficult one, and without a place to rest, heal, and learn, restoration remains extremely difficult.