Working Toward the End of Sex Trafficking in Lancaster County
“I was stunned. It’s happening right here in Lancaster County!”
Rebecca and Jen had met for a conversation between friends. Rebecca began sharing about all God was stirring in her heart regarding the realities of human sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women in our day. She told Jen of her newly formed personal conviction to “fight this atrocity.” She just didn’t know how or where. That’s when Jen looked at Rebecca and told her about the ongoing sex-trade happening in Lancaster County and her efforts with others to establish an organization to fight it. Rebecca was stunned, and she responded to Jen’s invitation to join her in the work.
That was 8 years ago.
Today, North Star Initiative (NSI) operates under the leadership of Pam Pautz, Executive Director. She and her fellow “freedom fighters” operate as a Christ-centered organization whose vision is to liberate and restore women from sex trafficking and sexual exploitation by addressing their physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Jen (Jen Sensenig) and Rebecca (Rebecca Crutcher) continue in their essential roles with the organization. Since NSI’s founding in 2012, they have been working toward the vision of opening up a safe house to provide support in a residential context for women survivors, 18 years and older, through an 18 - 24 month program. This program will include access to basic medical care, education, counseling, legal support, psychological and occupational therapy.
In March 2016, NSI purchased a 5 bedroom home on 1.3 acres of land in the heart of rural Lancaster County. They’re calling it, “The Harbor.” This home is where they will base their work. To date, $600,000 in capital has been raised toward the purchase, renovation, and staffing of the Harbor.
Local Businesses Join The Fight
“Breaks my heart.”
In addition to cash giving, local contractors and skilled service providers have been enlisted to help the cause, offering their services as a donation. “You really need to know how sad human trafficking is in order to appreciate those who sacrifice to help not only rescue [the survivors] but bring them to wholeness,” says Brandon MacCartney, owner of F&M Painting, a Lancaster based painting company. Brandon and his company were invited by a contractor to consider donating their painting services to help open up the Harbor.
Brandon is more than happy to “give back to the community,” he says. “I very much value and appreciate the work that they do. Donating our labor really is the least we can do. We are very humbled to be able to do so as the realities of sex trafficking break my heart. It is a way F&M Painting can applaud their work, and not so much about what we are doing,” said Brandon.
Others have answered the call as well. One local church of just 50 members rallied together to raise $10,000 to give toward the opening up of the Harbor.
Becoming A Reality
Today, renovation projects at the Harbor are nearing completion. All the flooring and carpeting has been replaced, and the entire interior has been freshly painted. The next step is moving toward furnishing the Harbor. After years of hard work, advocating, and planning, NSI and the victims of sex trafficking in Lancaster County are now at a brand new threshold, and it looks like the Harbor, a newly restored home where women will be healed and restored “For Freedom. For Life. Forever.”