New Day Center helps victims move on from sex trafficking

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Sex trafficking is a serious issue in Philadelphia and one organization is on the frontline of helping women in need.

Pennsylvania is one of ten states with the highest number of reported cases of sex trafficking in the country.

The Salvation Army leads a local anti-trafficking program-- the New Day Center, a place focused on helping women victims in Kensington.

"The drop-in center is a safe and welcoming environment for women who are 18 and older in commercial sexual exploitation," said Arielle Curry, director of anti-trafficking.

The New Day Center offers a variety of services, including food, clothing, toiletries, warm showers and a washer and dryer.

"If someone is interested in getting housing or needs detox or needs an ID, we will support them in their goals," said Curry. "We also offer a self-group, which is a trauma-informed sanctuary model group to talk through safety emotions loss and future."

Curry said a lot of the women who walk through our doors have experienced extreme violence, as well as are struggling with substance use disorder, homelessness, food insecurity and/or lack of medical support.

Esterlina Fernandez comes to the center daily. After serving 11 years in prison for selling drugs and experiencing homelessness, she is looking for help to change her life.

"I starting to go to different organizations in trying to get help and people been, you know, they've been helping me out," said Fernandez. "I'm trying my best to get back into school because I want my GED so bad."

Esterlina is not shy about her ultimate goal.

"I want to be a homeless advocate," she said. "I'm going to open up my own place."

The Salvation Anti-trafficking program also includes a Transitional Home and The New Day Center oversees the City of Philadelphia's human trafficking hotline.

"We've had close to 700 individual women walk through the doors of New Day this year," said Curry.

And it's their open-door policy that resonates.

"The resource, and love. They don't look down on you, whatsoever," said Fernandez.
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