(Featured photo from a previous walk courtesy GLM2)
Helping restore lives once caught in human trafficking and domestic violence is at the heart of GLM2’s mission.
“We know going in that we are in it for the long term. We come alongside them for a minimum of two years, a maximum of five,” said Kimberly Walden, who started the organization in 2018.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, GLM2 will hold its fifth annual Courage to Rise Walk/Run, which will start at the Augusta Market at the Riverwalk.
Not only is the program long-term, but it works to help women and their children with a comprehensive list of services from helping them find places to live to getting them needed mental health services and so much more.
In 2022, GLM2 helped 25 adults and 40 children.
“They are coming out of the darkness – out of the old identity that someone else forced them to be and finding out who they really are,” she said.
Oftentimes, there are substance addictions. Meth is prevalent among human trafficking victims, she said. Women typically come into GLM2’s program after receiving some initial intervention – a short term treatment facility where they’ve gotten sober.
“Most of the time, they’ve been through 30 or 60- or 90-day treatment,” she said. “But then there’s nothing. They end up homeless or end up living on a couch somewhere or at a hotel.”
Finding a place for them to live can be tricky. Apartment complexes do background and credit checks. Many of the women they’ve worked with have some arrest records and they have little credit or bad credit.
Most of the homes Walden finds are through individuals who require deposits or first and last month’s rent, and utility companies also often require deposits for those with bad credit.
Just getting in the door can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, she said.
While the organization is backing them financially, the lease and other accounts are put into their names not GLM2’s, so they can build credit and their self-esteem. They also work with organizations that have a desire to give people second chances with jobs.
With a home and a job, there are other factors to consider, those traumas and how to deal with them.
“They may be clean and sober but that doesn’t deal with the trauma, the mental health issues, the night terrors, the triggers. There so many things involved,” she said.
Many of the program’s participants need non-verbal therapy before they can talk to a counselor.
GLM2 works with North Augusta’s Hope for Hooves where they can work out emotions through the equine programs there. Also, Walden said there’s a music therapist who provides some alternative therapies to talk. When they are ready for additional therapy Walden partners with the Family Counseling Center of the CSRA.
But it all takes money, which is the reason the walk is so important.
While she does take some donations, she has to be careful about what she receives. People have tried to give her the small bottles of hotel shampoo that they’ve collected while traveling, but those can trigger post-traumatic stress because they would’ve used those to clean up during the days when they were being trafficked.
Also, she allows the women to pick their own linens when they move into their homes. And Walden says they never choose white sheets because they are reminders of being trafficked.
Not only does Walden work directly with people to rebuild their lives, but she also speaks to groups about the dangers of trafficking, specifically online trafficking.
“Parents aren’t aware. I teach parents and grandparents on how to protect their children. I bring resources on how to talk to children according to their age,” she said.
To learn more about GLM2, visit its website here.
Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at email@example.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.
Support local journalism: Local stories on local people, organizations and events. That’s the focus of Augusta Good News. And you don’t have to go through a paywall to find these stories. An independent voice in Augusta, Ga., Augusta Good News is not funded by a billionaire or a large corporation; it doesn’t have celebrity reporters who have agents. It’s local people who are invested in the community and want to tell its stories. You can support local journalism and help us expand our coverage by becoming a supporter. Through Ko-Fi, you can give once or set up a monthly gift. Click here to learn more. Thank you!