Women recovering from human trafficking, addiction making masks for nonprofit

Women recovering from human trafficking, addiction making masks for nonprofit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gayle Smith sits surrounded by ribbon, fabric, and thread.

“We have floral, we have frogs, we have NASCAR," she says.

Smith and the women of Dahlia Grove are now making masks.

“They do the cutting, ironing, prepping and get it ready,” Smith says. “I run it through the machine, and they trim it, iron it, package it, ready for us to ship it or people to pick it up.”

The women Dahlia Grove serves are recovering from situations like human trafficking, drug addiction, and domestic abuse. Because of Coronavirus-related restrictions, the nonprofit cannot run its fundraising events or catering company it usually uses to support them.

“It’s all come to a screeching halt,” Smith says. “So [making masks] was really a Godsend.”

It started with posting the idea to social media, and the next day, she saw an encouraging amount of orders.

“By that night we had 250,” Smith says.

The projects are helping keep the lights on.

“That’s almost two months of rent,” Smith says. “And right now, while the women aren’t working, we have to pay for all their groceries, we’re paying for everything, and so it does get expensive.”

It is also helping to keep the women focused on recovery.

“When you have women who have been involved in human trafficking and prostitution, and addictions, they’ve got so much that they’re battling in their mind,” Smith says. “And you leave them a lot of downtime, and those negative voices will start playing in their head, so this really keeps them active and busy.”

Dahlia Grove usually gets about 75 percent of its funding with one yearly gala and silent auction, which was scheduled for April 24. The event is turning virtual now, with online bidding, and a video call, with appearances from musicians, and speaker Mira Sorvino. Those who would like to be involved should follow Dahlia Grove’s Facebook page for further updates.

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