FN Member Spotlight: Opening Doors

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Freedom Network is excited to introduce new member organization Opening Doors, based in Sacramento, CA. We spoke with Elizabet Medina about the work of the organization and the incredible impact they are having in the Sacramento area.

“Our mission is to empower refugees, immigrants, human trafficking survivors, and underserved Sacramento area residents to achieve self-sufficiency by accessing opportunities to mainstream economic and social systems.”

History of Opening Doors

Opening Doors began in 1993 as a small refugee resettlement agency, called the Sacramento Refugee Ministry.  In 2003, the organization incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) with the name Opening Doors.  In 2004, the program became a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), growing an existing micro loan program and offering training in personal financial success.  Opening Doors was a founding member of the Rescue and Restore Coalition in 2007, and established its Survivors of Human Trafficking Program.

Opening Doors Background and Services

  • We assist underserved members of the Greater Sacramento Area to find greater opportunities within the US social and economic system, to become self-sufficient, and to realize their dreams of a better future.
  • Our programs help those escaping human trafficking and newly-arriving refugees to restart safe and healthy lives.
  • We provide tools for immigrants, refugees, and low-income citizens to build or grow small businesses, and to gain greater control over their personal finances.

Rescue and Restore Coalition

The Rescue and Restore Coalition has been working and succeeding at the community level in Sacramento since 2007.  One outstanding success was the passage of SB 1193, a bill requiring certain businesses to display information of The National Human Trafficking Hotline.  In November, several Coalition members coordinated SacPOST, a day for volunteers to distribute the flyer to Sacramento businesses. As an initial member of the Coalition, Opening Doors is pleased to have stepped in as primary administer of the program, hosting a community conversation with major sectors including law-enforcement, faith-based groups, non-profits, prosecutors and the extended community.

Forming the Survivors Network

With Elizabet as founding member, Opening Doors partnered with the Rescue and Restore Coalition to establish the Survivors Network, a program that connects and empowers survivors of human trafficking in Sacramento.

“The Survivors Network is a safe place for survivors to share their experiences and find the support and resources they need,” Elisabet says.

The brilliance of the program is that it is entirely survivor-run, and as Elizabeth states,  “This was intentional,” Elisabet says of the leadership. “If survivors are not leaders from Day 1, [the network] becomes just another program.” The program combats the fact that many human trafficking victims feel isolated from support, or are intentionally isolated by perpetrators.  The Survivor Network program not only provides community, but also access to resources including ESL classes, GED courses and various community resources.

Supporting the TCVAP

Opening Doors assists in education and awareness in support of the Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP).  The TCVAP program focuses on assisting eligible non-citizen victims of human trafficking by providing them with state-funded benefits and services and was authorized by SB 1569 and effective beginning January 1, 2007.  Through the TCVAP program, eligible persons may also receive 8 months of state-funded Medi-Cal administered by the California Department of Heath Care Services. In addition to providing assistance to victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic violence and serious crimes other than trafficking may meet eligibility for TCVAP funding after a U-Visa petition has been filed or granted. Opening Doors provides educational assistance to victims in application of these services.

Success through Services

Opening Doors is an organization that advocates and provides services to many needing assistance in the Sacramento area. The organization focuses on community development and prosperity, and believes in the fundamental value of each community member as a integral part of a diverse and thriving community.