Route One Ministry

Submitted by Bonnie Gatchell

This year was a year of growth and movement for Route One. On August 26, 2019, we left the Emmanuel Gospel Center (our umbrella head) and officially launched as our own non-profit. Our new offices are near downtown Boston, way too close to yummy dumpling shops.

In addition to our move from EGC and the South End to independence, we have hired a survivor of the sex industry to co-lead support groups in the Springfield area. These groups are scheduled to launch this Spring. We, as a staff, are encouraged as we learn and practice the curriculum "seeking safety," a 12-week program for people recovering from PTSD and addiction.

This past Spring, we, Route One, also acquired a house from a sister/brother team. It needs a lot of repairs but is a big, beautiful home. We will use the home to host more aftercare groups, provide emergency beds, and a safe place for dancers and ex-dancers to find rest. We hope to have the house up and running by March 2021.

Of course, we continue to serve women exploited in strip clubs on a weekly bases. We serve in the strip clubs in Springfield, Worcester, and Boston. In Springfield, we continue to search for a site coordinator, and the team continues to grow. The Springfield team is stronger than ever and has six beautiful women on the team. Each week the Springfield team has seen an increase of women seeking out a Route One team member for practical advice or help for leaving the clubs. This help has included; baby clothes, food (both hot and groceries), tutoring for exams, rides to work, practice interviews, and more. It was a very fruitful year in Springfield.

We are grateful for Covenant Presbyterian Church and its retreat center that hosted the Route One team and volunteers. Matt and his staff did an excellent job ushering us into a place of rest. We had 15 volunteers, and three staff attend the 28-hour retreat.

And, Christmas, this was our 10-year delivering baskets on Christmas eve. We had more than a dozen churches join us to gather baskets and gifts for women who had work in the strip clubs on Christmas eve. Each year is different than the last, but I am grateful for the steady hand of Amber Haywood and CPC to allow us to gather and create baskets at your church. Here is a story from your area:

As we arrived at one of the Springfield clubs, we hear scambling and excitement in the dark distance. Nearly out-of-nowhere, a dancer appeared. She was frazzled, and tears streamed down her face. She declared, "I thought you forgot. I cannot believe you are here. I thought you were not coming. I never get a gift from anyone on Christmas except you. Thank you for coming on Christmas eve. No one seems to remember the stripper but you. And, I know you remember because you're church ladies."