ROCHESTER, Minn. – Mission21, a local organization helping victims of sex trafficking, is preparing to have a bigger reach in the Rochester community.
The organization’s co-founder and executive director, Stephanie Holt, announced she is stepping down. Doctor Eric Shoars, board president for Mission21, said this move gives the organization the opportunity to reflect and plan for further growth.
“Our co-founder Stephanie and Matt Holt did a fantastic job of providing a terrific foundation from which to build,” Dr. Shoars said. “But as we now look for our new executive director we don’t want to maintain the status quo, we want to build upon what Matt and Stephanie have put that foundation down for us.”
Dr. Shoars said the they’re looking for a ‘strategic leader’, able to not only help the survivors internally through Mission21, but also collaborate with other community resources such as Olmsted County’s Victim Services.
As the organization looks for a new director, it’s also looking to expand.
“Many of the things that we look at in our growth phase will happen in three to five years,” Dr. Shoars said.
According to the Mission21 newsletter, it is looking to further spread awareness of the sexual exploitation of children, help progress stronger laws holding traffickers accountable, and spread more of it’s services to adults.
Dr. Shoars said as they look to do this, one thing he hopes to see more of are safe places for sex trafficking victims to stay.
“Since we’re helping minors at this point there’s not that need for the most part because they’re still largely involved with family or friends to provide a home,” he said. “However when we’re dealing with some teens and as we hope to expand to adult populations, that will be of tremendous importance…there is that need.”
While the organization's mission is to fight sex trafficking, Dr. Shoars wants community members to know it's a team effort.
“Whether they are supporting Mission21 financially or they are equipping themselves to be more knowledgeable about the issue so that they can spot signs to help others to prevent from being in the life, that’s a huge thing,” Dr. Shoars said.
To learn more about Mission21, click here.