Bloom for Women Launches “Bloom on the Inside” to Support Incarcerated Women and Provide Safe Housing for Women Leaving Prison

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Bloom Received a Safe House Project Grant to Help Fund the Program and Hired an Outreach Manager to Run the Program

[January 29, 2024, LEHIGH VALLEY, PA] – Bloom for Women, an organization dedicated to providing sanctuary and a continuum of care to heal, empower and employ women survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, announces the launch of “Bloom on the Inside”, an in-jail program offering assessments as well as individual and group psychoeducational programming in Lehigh Valley Jail and to provide safe housing for women leaving prison.

“Many of the women incarcerated in Lehigh County Jail are trafficking victims. They have the lived experience of trading sex for survival and are often misidentified as criminals by law enforcement agencies,” said Carol Andersen, CEO of Bloom for Women. “Women struggling to survive on the streets of Lehigh County find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty and imprisonment, unable to gain and maintain employment due to criminal histories and addictions. Multiple arrests and incarcerations of these victims place a huge financial burden on the criminal justice and social service systems.”

Women returning to society from incarceration face many daunting and complex challenges, including: unemployment, housing, addiction, mental illness, transportation, family reunification, childcare, parenting, and poor physical health. “Bloom on the Inside” will inform and educate these women on topics including identification and prevention of exploitation, codependency and healthy relationships, conflict resolution, and introduction to life skills.

Andersen continues, “‘Bloom on the Inside’ will help identify those victims and provide them with a safe place and the time to heal when they are released from prison. Our two-year residential program helps women break the cycle by providing safe housing, access to healthcare, and vocational training free of charge; giving these women the opportunity to once again become contributing members of society and live a life of freedom and meaning.”

Bloom was recently awarded a grant from the Safe House Project, an organization whose mission it is to increase survivor identification beyond one percent through education, provide emergency services and placement to all survivors, and ensure every survivor can access quality, safe housing and holistic care. Bloom is partnering with Pinebrook Family Answers and Lehigh County Jail to work within the prison directly supporting incarcerated/justice-impacted individuals.

This month, Bloom hired Sheniqua Mitchell, MSW as Outreach Manager to handle outreach initiatives directly to survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation in the Lehigh Valley; support the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and local law enforcement on sting operations and investigations; and coordinate community and prevention education activities around the topic of human trafficking throughout the Lehigh Valley.

About Bloom for Women

Bloom for Women, Inc. is a faith-based non-profit organization with the mission of providing sanctuary and a continuum of care to heal, empower and employ women survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. As part of its mission, Bloom offers emergency response, a two-year residential program, pregnant survivor services, and an independent living program in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Bloom follows the model and is a sister community of the remarkably successful Thistle Farms Nashville program. In addition, the Bloom Creative Studio, located in Bangor, Pa., is a social enterprise to leverage art as a healing tool and provide employment opportunities for survivors. Bloom also has a women’s upscale, resale boutique, My Sister’s Closet, based in Bethlehem, Pa., providing employment for survivors, community volunteer opportunities, and financial support for the organization.

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