Organizations across the country have been teaming up Thursday for "Shine a Light on Slavery Day" in hopes of saving lives.
You might have seen a red "X" marked on people's hands. It's to bring awareness to human sex trafficking. And yes, it's happening here in Chattanooga.
A local couple now has big dreams of creating something never before done here in Tennessee. They want to build a rescue home for sex trafficking survivors, specifically for children and teens.
"In Tennessee alone, right around 19 girls are sold every weekend in Tennessee," said Zach Brandon.
As Chattanooga couple Tess and Zach Brandon started learning horrific statistics of sex trafficking in Tennessee, they felt compelled to try and help.
"We were completely broken. And so we had to act, we have to do something," Zach said.
"We were thinking where do these girls go, where do they go," said Tess.
The reality is girls 17 and under who are rescued in Tennessee don't have a safe place to go. The children must return home, or to foster care.
That's why the Brandons created "7th Well" to give sex trafficking survivors a place to go once they are rescued.
They held a 'Benefit to Build' Thursday night to raise donations for a new home for human trafficking victims in town.
"Pimps, john's, they thrive off people being indifferent, they thrive off people doing nothing, looking the other away," Tess said.
Their plan is to create an 18-month restoration program tailored to young girls under 17, where they will find mentorship, job training, and life skills. The cost is about $500,000.
"That seems like a lot of money, but here's the thing, I can't look at a girl and say you're not worth it," Tess said.
During the benefit a local sex trafficking victim, who wished to remain off-camera, told her own survival story to the crowd. She told them, it's not too late to make a difference.
"We need the community, we have to get community support, financial support, support of business leaders, board members, volunteers," Tess said.
This home would be the first of its kind in the state designed for girls under the age of 18 who are rescued from human sex trafficking.
For more information about 7th Well, visit their website.
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Brandon Banks was convicted in June for raping an unconscious female student in a dorm room in 2013.
900 Whitehall Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
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