We love blogging stories of people falling in love and starting a new adventure together, but tonight I’m super pumped to share something totally different on the blog. Tonight’s story is about a couple who’s on an even larger adventure together, one thats even larger than they can wrap their mind around. Allow me to introduce you to Chris & Anna Smith, founders of Restore One.
I’ve known Chris & Anna since High School and as long as I’ve known them they’ve been inseparable and passionate about challenging people and encouraging them to live life for something larger than themselves. While serving as youth pastors they were made aware of the subject of human trafficking and felt moved to dedicate their time and talents to fighting domestic minor sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. In 2012, the cry of Chris and Anna’s heart became a reality with the founding of Restore One. Restore One is a ministry that seeks to open shelters that offer faith-based residential recovery programs, free of cost to American boys who are survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Restore One also counteracts human trafficking and human exploitation by community awareness, education, outreach and partnerships. Restore One’s goal is to see DMST survivors live in complete freedom, and to generate communities that are intolerable to the problem of human trafficking and human exploitation. Since founding Restore One, Chris & Anna works diligently on their chief project, The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the psychological, physical and sociological needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys.
Chris & Anna contacted us in September to ask us if we would partner with them to photograph their Stand for One Gala at Rock Springs Center in Greenville, NC. The goal for the Gala was to raise $70,000 to assist Restore One in the opening of The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first safe house nationwide devoted solely to providing holistic trauma informed care to sex trafficked boys, ages 12-18 and is set to open in March 2015. It will be a licensed residential care facility under the state of North Carolina and will provide a safe space for restoration, healing, and all preparations needed for the boys to re-enter into a normal life. How exciting to think that we could partner in such a unique event with a huge mission! Needless to say, we were so delighted to partner with them in their mission to make a difference in the lives of people. Here’s a few of the images from the evening that was filled with music, dinner, and a silent auction.
Rebecca Bender was a special guest and served as the Master of Ceremonies. Rebecca is more than just a survivor of domestic Sex Trafficking. She is an award winning, internationally recognized speaker, author and Survivor Leader in the movement to eradicate modern day slavery.
The picture below was taken during a moving testimony of how Chris and Anna found this gentleman’s son a place to be restored from a sex trafficking accident that took place in a college setting. At this moment the reality of human trafficking weighed heavily in the room; I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building.
Michael Cusick, Founder and President of Restoring the Soul Ministries, who serves as an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and author of Surfing for God, was the keynote speaker for the evening. His personal testimony and heart for healing from sexual baggage and brokenness paralleled with Restore One’s mission to restore sex trafficked boys and men.
We were so honored to be able to attend the Stand for One Gala and learn even more about Restore One and their diligent work on the Anchor House. We’ll be announcing some more partnerships with Restore One early in 2015 and we hope that you will partner with us to be an abolitionist and help Restore One fight human trafficking.