Columbus human trafficking victims' aid group preparing to expand
A west Columbus drop-in center that provides sanctuary and services for victims of human trafficking is preparing to expand.
The Love Drop-in Center offers food, clothing, a needle exchange, and other services to sex trafficking victims in the Hilltop area.
It's run by the nonprofit 1 Divine Line 2 Health. Esther Flores is a registered nurse and the group's founder. Flores talked about plans to add a new multi-purpose room to the facility on Monday's edition of All Sides with Ann Fisher. "This multipurpose room is going to inspire our people to get out of Columbus, to get out of this tragic lifestyle, and see that there's more than to this life than being a victim of all types of violence," Flores said.
Flores said the drop-in center is the only one in Columbus that serves this community at night, typically serving about 35 to 40 people per night.
"Our population is transient," Flores said. "We can have three girls come in at once, and they can hang out with us for about 20 minutes. Or we can have the woman who is extremely tired, hasn't slept for three nights or three days, and she'll come and she'll just crash on the couch. We want to have that homey type of space."
Local design firm DesignGroup is working pro bono on the project. Senior interior designer with the firm, Char Hawkins, described Flores' vision for the design of the new space. "It's unabashedly feminine," Hawkins said. "I want color. I want life. I want beauty. I want them to feel inspired and loved and happy in this place."
The room will be used for everything from health clinics to movie nights. Hawkins said the room is designed first and foremost to make women feel safe.
"While I get you want to bring natural light in, we have to be cognizant of the fact that they don't want to be seen from the street. They don't want to be seen. They want to feel encapsulated and safe," she said.
Flores said they are still in the process of working with building and zoning officials to get their plans approved. She said construction should take about three months be finished by late September.
In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline ranked Ohio fifth in the nation for human trafficking cases and fourth highest for number of victims.