'Walk alongside them:' Ignite Hope Gala empowers women to break free from human trafficking

BROOKFIELD -- From sex to labor, human trafficking is a grim reality that has become prevalent nationwide -- with Milwaukee being one of the hubs. One local organization is looking to break victims free.

Chaplain Krista Hull, founder and director of Redeem and Restore Center, is dedicated to helping victims escape domestic sex trafficking.

"This will be the most difficult period of their life," said Hull. "We have met them where they are at, and walk alongside them."

Ignite Hope Gala

She's working with survivors just like Jessica Neely to help them find hope and a voice.

"We are empowered because we had a community of entrepreneurs that came into our program and inspired us back into life," said Neely.

Jessica Neely

They're emotional and grateful to have a second chance at a better life.

"I am a former youth pastor. After that, I experienced a rape. I tragically spiraled into the pornography industry," said Neely. "Pornography is exploitation on steroids."

Now as an advocate for trauma-based recovery and programs, Neely spoke at Saturday's Ignite Hope Gala.

"I was loved back to live by ordinary people, everyday," said Neely.

She's helping them climb out of dark circumstances toward the light of a better future. The event was aimed at raising money to open a home.

Ignite Hope Gala

"A space for them to feel safe, a place for them to be cushioned from the outside world and accelerate their healing," said Hull.

Ignite Hope Gala

Community members came together to raise awareness, spirits and esteem.

"They need constant support from people. That is why we are igniting hope -- because of all the beauty that is possible, that has been trapped," said Hull.

"If one woman is not free, we are not free at all," said Neely.

The goal is to raise $500,000 for the home and services that will be based in Waukesha County. Right now, the organization is at $100,000. If you'd like to donate, click HERE.

Ignite Hope Gala