GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A nonprofit that helps former sex industry workers is working to open a safe home and restoration program in West Michigan, hoping to help women heal and start over.
“These are our daughters, these are our sisters. As a community, I feel like it’s our responsibility to step in and actually do something,” said Anny Donewald, the founder of Eve’s Angels.
Getting out of the sex industry is no easy transition — Donewald understands that because she made it. So she and a spiritual group are working to raise the money for a building that will not only be a safe haven for former sex industry workers, but also a place for them to launch a new life.
“No girl wakes up one day and says, ‘I’m going to jump into the sex (industry).’ Nobody does that,” Donewald said.
Donewald found herself wrapped up in the sex industry for seven years, starting when she was 19 years old. Now, at 38, she manages Eve’s Angels — a nonprofit that operates in several cities including Grand Rapids and helps former sex industry workers recover over the phone, through emails and with in-person counseling.
“We have a full system of ways that we’re going to rebuild their lives based on talents and educational experience and all of the factors that go into each individual woman,” Donewald explained.
Her newest goal is to have a new safe house and restoration program for 20 women at a building tucked away at an undisclosed location in West Michigan. It will give women the tools to heal — everything from crisis intervention and trauma treatment to vocational and educational programs, plus self defense training.
“Girls that have chosen to go in or girls that are being trafficked, the same percentage of women from that place [who] have PTSD is the same percentage of men coming off of frontline war,” Donewald said.
Eve’s Angels’ partner in the project is Unveiled, a spiritual community in Grand Rapids focused on acceptance.
“It breaks my heart when I go in and hear about other Christian organizations that have gone in and told these women that they’re going to hell and they need to repent and they are dirty or evil and make them feel ashamed,” said Jenna Coller, the co-founder of Unveiled.
Eve’s Angels received an anonymous $500,000 donation for the program. It is about one third of the way to the goal to get the actual building, which costs $325,000. The deadline to raise those funds is Oct. 2.