A Safe Haven: The Pathfinder Center Grand Opening

Native Hope took some time out of their schedule to assist a partner with the upcoming opening of their shelter, the Pathfinder Center, a designated safe haven and place of refuge for trafficking victims. Since many last minute projects needed to be finalized, Native Hope was honored to help out. Landscaping, mowing, weed pulling, and sweeping were just a few of the jobs that needed attention in order to make the shelter welcoming for these young women in need.

We have been honored and proud to stand alongside the Pathfinder Center during this time. Of our united efforts, Leasa McFarling, the Pathfinder Center coordinator, says, “When Native Hope partners with an organization, you can expect to be truly supported. Their passion, enthusiasm, awesome teamwork, and positive nature provide so much inspiration and assistance."

As the grand opening rolled around on Monday, July 17, over 50 people were in attendance to celebrate and support the vital work of the Pathfinder Center. The opening of the shelter started with a welcome prayer and honor song by Greg Grey Cloud from Rosebud who said, “This song and prayer is intended for all women and children, which is fitting considering what we are celebrating here today.” 

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Lisa Heth, the proud executive director of Wiconi Wawokiya, stepped up to say a few words before introducing some of the high-powered leaders from South Dakota who were there to recognize this special day. She reflected back on their work and said that she never thought this would be a project that Wiconi Wawokiya would take on. Throughout the entire process, she felt there were many people who thought this shelter wouldn’t become a reality, but she was convinced that there was a tremendous need for a place like this in South Dakota.

She continued by saying, “We sacrifice a lot in our life for this work, and this was a huge undertaking for us.” With the support of volunteers, churches, organizations like Native Hope, and her hardworking staff, the Pathfinder Center is now a place of refuge for trafficking victims.

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Marty Jackley, South Dakota Attorney General, was a key speaker at the event and was honored to be there with the community. He witnessed all the hard work and dedication, and he applauded everyone for coming together to give hope for these victims in need. He also mentioned that this was a long-term opportunity for the state of South Dakota to provide protection and healing, and he stressed, “It is important to give these victims a needed voice.”

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Allison Turkel, the deputy director for the Office for Victims of Crime, was also in attendance. She was grateful to see this work happening in South Dakota. She affirmed that healing and recovery for these victims is a priority, and she ended by saying, “We are there for you and will continue to be there for you.”

Wrapping up the ceremony was Randy Seiler, U.S. Attorney for South Dakota. He said he was proud to be there and just like all of us, he wants to eradicate human trafficking. He stated, “We don’t have turf battles in South Dakota; we stand shoulder to shoulder and stand united against human trafficking.”

Native Hope supports Wiconi Wawokiya, the leaders of South Dakota, and all organizations looking to end sex trafficking. Please join the movement to stop those who prey on Native American women and children.  

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