“These girls are strong and resilient. They can do amazing things when given the resources,” Mary Frances Bowley, Founder of Wellspring Living stated. As Gabrielle, “Gaby”, took the stage and shared her story with the Light up the Harbor audience, this was exemplified. Gaby was 13 when she experienced sexual abuse being raped by a 17 year old boy. Gaby didn’t share what happened with anyone, affected deeply from the shame and trauma of it, but did not find the healing she desperately needed as she kept it hidden.
She was in her 20’s at college when she was approached by a college professor who offered her a “job”…a way to make a living. Gaby was told she would “meet with men,” soon discovering that the “job” was being exploited through the sex trade. Already wounded with the barriers broken down from her previous abuse, Gaby entered the “life” of sexual exploitation. Working Monday-Friday from 3-6 pm, she had to meet an $1800 quota servicing up to 8 men a night. She was only allowed to keep half of that.
Hope filled the room last Thursday night as Gaby shared how she was able to get out of “the life” as some individuals from the community surrounded her with unconditional love, simply praying and listening. As Gaby put it beautifully, “They didn’t try to get me to believe in God, they simply showed me His love.” Eventually, they pointed her toward Wellspring Living’s home and program for restoration. Gaby entered the Wellspring Living home and went full circle, testifying to the need for homes like this to surround women’s stories like hers so that they get the support they need to fulfill their purpose in life. “Society had a lot to say about me. You are a prostitute; you aren’t worth anything. Wellspring taught me that this is what God says about you-you are loved, valuable, full of worth. I believe the same.”
It was an evening of awareness, education and inspiration, but also one of celebration. The North Star community celebrated that together we raised the funds to purchase The Harbor in March this past year! “That is cause for us all to celebrate what has been accomplished through God’s goodness and faithfulness,” I declared. United collectively, the North Star leadership and community will press in toward the next step of raising funds to improve and update the property as well as the next milestone of $750,000. Once this is reached, staff can be hired and trained at The Harbor and 3-4 women will be received into the home so that North Star can fulfill its vision in a smaller capacity. At full operations, we will be able to house 8-10 women. North Star continues to anticipate this for the future. “We have the house,” I said, “We need every one of you here to help make it a home for these women… a place of security, community and belonging.”