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Former Prostitutes Tout Program As Lifesaver
Wellspring Program Helps Get Women Off Streets
Two women, who have been working the streets of Omaha as prostitutes for more than 10 years, said they found a way out through a program sponsored by the Salvation Army.
The women said they realized their lives were going nowhere and were just getting worse. They said they got help from the Wellspring program.
With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, they wanted to get their stories out.
Delores (not her real name) is about 45 years old. The high school graduate and one-time college student worked the streets for more than a decade.
"While enrolled in college, I just got mixed up with the wrong people and from there it went downhill," she said.
Delores said she turned to drugs and then to prostitution. She said she couldn't stop.
"It was a very dangerous life I was living," she said.
Cece (also a pseudonym) has a similar story.
"It was like an adventure. It was fun. I was like getting this money. It was fast and I really didn't have to do nothing to get it," she said.
Cece was a prostitute for nearly 20 years. She said what started out as being fun, eventually proved otherwise.
"Throughout those 20 years, I've been stabbed, I've been raped, I've been shot at," she said. "By the grace of God, I'm sitting here telling my story today."
If it weren't for the Salvation Army's Wellspring program, both women said there is no telling where they'd be.
"Prostitution isn't a choice," said Mary Raynovich, the director of Wellspring. "We find that it's really about a lack of choices."
Raynovich said she works with as many as 100 women every month. About 73 percent of them have been sexually abused and roughly 90 percent of them are chemically addicted, she said.
But, no matter how troubled some of the women are, Raynovich said they are not a lost cause.
"No matter how long you've been on the street, there's hope. You can get off the street," said Raynovich.
"I believe that if I reach out and let them (other prostitutes) know that there is hope, they will have something to cling to," said Cece.
"If it wasn't for our case manager in the program, I know I would still be lost," Delores said. "I would still be out there, or dead."
The stories from women like Cece and Delores have helped the Salvation Army secure a $25,000 grant for the Wellspring program. The check will be presented at the end of October.