Published February 4, 2018
When I sat down with Megan McGuire, the CEO of Ascent 121, I had hoped to learn a little more about their organization. Not only did I get a peek into what they do every day, I learned more about the facts of human trafficking, something I thought I already knew.
Ascent 121 was the product of Megan Jessup, who worked in the juvenile system. She was tired of seeing children and teens who had been trafficked being sent away to juvenile detention simply because there was nowhere else for them to go. She wanted more options for them, so she started the rehabilitation and recovery program in 2013.
Since then, the organization has worked with the court systems and have helped a countless number of victims. The victims usually range from age 10-18, often coming from homes where their pimp was a family member or a “boyfriend”.
I asked Ms. McGuire what Ascent 121 offers that other similar organizations do not. She emphasized their devotion to long-term recovery for minors. Often times, the child or teen will come into a program like this and once they finish a given course, they’re free to go. In most cases, it’s common to see a relapse up to 4-6 times before a victim can finally break themselves free. They often go back to the exploitive situation because they don’t know what else to do.
Ascent 121 offers residential facilities for minors if their homes are not suitable or safe to go back to. This type of long term program, usually running between twelve and eighteen months, offers a higher success rate for recovery.
I have been asked by so many people: “How can a member of the community help end human trafficking?”
Ms. McGuire was very clear. “We often have people who want to come in and work face to face with the girls. Only qualified counselors are allowed to have such personal contact with the girls.”
The girls have been through so much, the last thing they need a stranger coming up and giving them a hug, invading their personal space and touching them without permission, something that has been happening to them for far too long.
The best thing for someone to do is spread awareness and sponsor a program such as Ascent 121. 50% of the money to run the programs come from fundraising. Volunteers are needed to host awareness events and educational engagements. Here is a list on their website for all of their volunteer needs: