RAHAB began addressing human trafficking before human trafficking became a recognized term.
An acronym for Reaching Above Hopelessness and Brokenness, Inc., RAHAB was founded by Rebecca Moreland in 2002. After finding hope and healing in her own life, Becky put her faith into action by reaching into seemingly hopeless situations and connecting with prostituted women on the streets of Akron, Ohio.
In 2008, RAHAB acquired a house in a neighborhood where prostitution and drugs ran rampant. Women in “the life” still visit the house for family-style meals, Bible Studies, encouragement and friendship. They shop the free clothes closet and receive donated hygiene items.
In 2014, RAHAB opened a safe house for adult women, after purchasing a family’s secluded estate below market value. Residents receive trauma-informed care, counseling and individual case management. As survivors get healthy, RAHAB helps them pursue education, employment, and life skills. Donated services have included everything from cooking classes to dance therapy, always provided in a trauma-informed manner.
In 2013 Summit County Juvenile Court launched Restore Court, the first juvenile human trafficking docket certified by the Supreme Court of Ohio. All children in the County’s juvenile justice system are screened for sex trafficking concerns. Since 2013, through Restore Court, 60 children have been identified as trafficked and 77 children have been identified as at high risk for having been trafficked.
RAHAB partners with Restore Court to provide mentoring to children on the docket. Restore Court reports that the relationships built with RAHAB mentors consistently bring the most positive impact for the children (both girls and boys).
Selah’s Place, our juvenile mentoring center, opened to provide mentors a place to spend time with mentees. Neither the children’s homes or a public venue are usually ideal for spending low-key time together or having meaningful conversations. Selah’s Place is always staffed by at least two adults and offers a place for kids to stop by for a listening ear, do homework, crafts or other activities.
In June 2017, Becky told RAHAB’s Board of Directors that she planned to retire as RAHAB’s Executive Director the following year. But Becky still had an unfulfilled dream of building a much-needed juvenile safe house for sex traffickers’ most vulnerable targets.
As the Board began the search for a new Executive Director, Becky continued to work toward fulfillment of her vision of a safe place for trafficked girls ages 11-17 to find healing and hope. Valued donors fully funded the house, and we opened Rebecca’s Place, named in Becky’s honor, in early 2019.
In May 2018, Suzanne Lewis-Johnson resigned from the FBI to become RAHAB’s new CEO. Although becoming an FBI agent had been a dream come true, Suzanne took the unusual step of resigning because she believed RAHAB holds the keys to ending the slavery of human trafficking.
In 2020, we opened Drop-In Centers in Stark county, expanded Minor Mentoring into Cuyahoga county, received funding for the Summit County Human Trafficking Task Force, and launched The Oaks, a transitional housing program for adult survivors. We grew in many different directions and continued to optimize our continuum of care.
In September 2021, Rebecca’s Place closed and, in its place, Minor Community Based Programming launched in October. MCBP provides community-based support and training to the community and families of trafficking survivors in a sixty mile radius while also providing case management to those survivors. Greg Colbeck, the former COO, was announced as the new CEO of RAHAB in December of 2021.
As we look to the future, we’re focused on strengthening local efforts and documenting best practices, what we know works and what doesn’t, to create patterns other communities can replicate.
Over the years, under Becky’s leadership, RAHAB informally mentored groups in other parts of the country and even overseas, who wanted to do similar work. With your help, we’ll invite interested groups to formally partner as RAHAB affiliates.
Visit our blog and stay tuned to our social media for updates, education and training, survivor stories, devotionals, and more. Join us as God’s Story of setting people free continues to unfold here at RAHAB.