Over the next few weeks, we will be working on posting a series of blogs featuring some of the newest UW Bucks member agencies.
In this “Member Agency Spotlight”, we want to acquaint you with these agencies, what services they provide to our community, and ways that you can get involved.
We had a Q&A with Karen Kutzner, Program Director of The Well, a program of Worthwhile Wear.
Mission: Worthwhile Wear exists to reach and restore women affected by human trafficking, which is today’s modern day slavery.
What is your name and position at your organization and how long have you worked there?
Karen Kutzner, Program Director of The Well, a program of Worthwhile Wear. I’ve worked here for three and a half years
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I enjoy learning new things and visiting new places, and hope that I will always be growing.
What does your organization do and what is your mission?
Our mission is to end human trafficking by providing recovery programs and restoration to survivors. We are the only long-term residential program for survivors in Bucks County and we provide up to two years of housing, trauma counseling, vocational training, and other services to women over age 18.
How long have you been in operation in Bucks County?
Worthwhile Wear was established in 2012. In 2014, we opened The Well, our residential safe house and our Pipersville Worthwhile Thrift store. Our Fountainville Worthwhile Thrift opened in 2017.
What are some programs and services that you offer?
Most people in the U.S. do not realize the extent of human trafficking and the fact that it is a local problem involving U.S. citizens. So one way we serve the community is by raising awareness of the issue.
We also run restorative programs like The Well to help women survivors of human trafficking rebuild their lives. The Well’s services were designed to meet specific needs identified by local social service agencies—in particular, long-term housing (up to 2 years) for women 18 years of age or older who are not covered by Child and Youth Services. We empower survivors through coping tools which help them work through past trauma, complete educational benchmarks, gain vocational training, embrace a healthy lifestyle, and find affordable housing. The Well offers therapeutic group and individual counseling, food, clothing, and secure housing.
In Spring 2018 we are starting a pilot program called Worth It to enable women arrested for forced prostitution in Bucks County a way to avoid or expunge a criminal record after completing an 11-week program.
We also operate two thrift stores in Bucks County that provide work experience for residents of The Well, sell articles handmade by survivors of trafficking, and contribute revenue for our programs.
What are some ways that members of the community can get involved with your organization?
In 2017, we engaged over 460 volunteers in activities from working at fundraising events, helping sort and sell thrift store items, driving residents of The Well to various appointments and interviews, building trails at The Well property, and constructing an Education and Counseling Center at The Well. Our new Worth It program offers new volunteering opportunities.
We are also always looking for opportunities to share the issue of human trafficking with new audiences, including businesses.
Why is being a member agency with The United Way of Bucks County important to your team?
We have a unique opportunity to provide services to an underserved population in Bucks County and we want to share that mission with other United Way agencies and the general public. Being a United Way member opens up new occasions and audiences with which we can interact.
What are some of your goals for 2018?
Launching our new Worth It program and maintaining The Well safe house are key goals. Worth It is offered in partnership with the Bucks County District Attorney’s office and uses managed case intervention to offer local women arrested for forced prostitution a way to avoid a criminal record (which traffickers use for additional coercion). This pilot program is based on a highly successful model used in Phoenix, Arizona in which 86% of the 1,000 women participating did not return to prostitution.
Instead of jail time, a record, and/or fees, the women participate in a managed care program that includes 36 hours of education, counseling, and healing curriculum, as well as job and housing placement assistance. The program offers a great opportunity to dramatically change the lives of victims of sex trafficking through an intensely holistic. We believe this can lead to mental, emotional and physical health for the women and the communities in which they live.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s a privilege serving the women in our programs. They come from highly traumatized backgrounds and need counseling, skills training, and, most of all, hope.