EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Paso Del Norte Center of Hope will be opening its doors to the public who are victims of Human Trafficking on January 24.
The Home Depot foundation awarded the center with a grant for almost $18,000, providing over 35 volunteers to renovate the legendary Head Stand store on Dyer Street on January 14 into the new commercial office space.
Paso Del Norte Center of Hope, Executive Director Nicole Schiff says this new project will open more beds at their undisclosed emergency shelter for those who have been victimized.
“We were looking for space in the community and we really wanted to keep it in a central location because we do serve individuals in all parts of El Paso, surrounding counties in Texas and in New Mexico as well. So, we really didn’t want to go far east or west, so while looking for properties the owner at our current shelter had this property available. So, we work with him to secure this place,” Schiff said.
Schiff says the new commercial space will hosts meetings, trainings as well as walk in donations from the public.
“We also train on Human Trafficking 101 with other local partners as they feel as it is necessary for staff to be learning about and what this crime really is and how to identify it and how to respond to it.”
Schiff tells KTSM the emergency shelter houses adults from 18 and over because they are not licensed by the state to house youth at this time. However, anyone who has been exploited if it’s either a U.S. a citizen or a migrant is welcome.
Officials add that they have seen an increase of child exploitation increase.
“You know we were always taught not to talk to strangers but on the internet, it makes it so easy for strangers to get to youth. So, we’ve had a lot of cases around different social media apps being used where predators are reaching out to youth building a relationship with them.”
Schiff urges parents as well as educators to be mindful of kids being on the internet since there has been an increase with child exploitation.
“Then come to find out it’s actually an older adult that is looking to exploit them for something. Typically, it is for sex, but we do work for force labor and sex trafficking and like I said we work any type of child exploitation case that can be simple as sharing child pornography,” said Schiff.
Schiff adds that she has also seen children between the ages 9 to 11 year’s old.
“We’ve had cases where the father is the trafficker to the child, we’ve had cases where it is a stranger. We’ve had cases that are from out of state and the individual ends up here and vice versa.”
She goes on to say while that 95% of the clients are U.S. Citizens exploited by U.S. Citizens.
Although their new location is opening up on January 24th, Paso Del Norte Center of Hope will be accepting donations on site at 4409 Dyer Street.
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