Groups unite to remind women that they are special

MAKING OTHERS AWARE — Students from the Jefferson County Christian School and the Refuge for Women Ohio Valley teamed up Friday to hand out bracelets at the Gaylord Towers reminding residents of their worth and educating them about human trafficking. Among those taking part were, from left, Janet Johnson, a teacher at the school; Christopher McPeek; Amy Bates, a chaperone; Paige Boals; Nathan Burdick; Jeriah Mantos; Erica Bates and Sofia Poludniak. -- Amy Neeley

STEUBENVILLE — The Refuge for Women Ohio Valley and Jefferson County Christian School teamed up Friday to let women in the Ohio Valley know they are important.

The students distributed handmade bracelets that included a religious text reminding the person wearing it that “they are more precious than rubies.” The jewelry was given out to the residents of the Gaylord Towers, 707 Market St..

The Refuge for Women Ohio Valley is part of a national program that provides specialized long-term care for women who have escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation. They offer locations across the U.S. where women can receive up to 12 months of safe housing, at no charge with around the clock care.

Theresa Golden, the local program director, said that purpose of Friday’s project was to help women know they are special.

“It is to help women know that they are worthy and someone cares,” she said.

One of the mothers chaperoning the event, Amy Bates, shared a similar sentiment while handing out a bracelet.

“You are worth something whether anyone has ever told you that or not,” she said.

Her daughter, Erica, was one of a group of nine students, including males and females, who took part in the event.

“I want my daughter to know the dangers that are out there,” Amy Bates said. “You think it’s happening in foreign countries but it’s happening right here.”

Erica Bates said she was happy to be part of the project.

“I want to feel like everyone is safe and loved and we can support them,” she said.

Christopher McPeek was another student taking part.

“I always have a heart for others,” he said. “This is wrong and (the word) needs to be out there.”

Nathan Burdick said he and the other students were honored to take part in such an important project.

“We at the Jefferson County Christian School are proud to have made these bracelets for those who need them,” he said.

The Refuge for Women Ohio Valley only serves women, but Golden said she was happy the boys were participating, because men are often the victims of human trafficking as well.

She said the organization has a home here in Jefferson County that can house up to six women, but it often tries to send the women to other homes in the network so the victims are out of their danger zone.

For information on the Refuge for Women Ohio Valley visit www.rfohiovalley.org, or Refuge for women Ohio Valley on Facebook.

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