HAMPTON, Va. — The owners of Smoothie Stop in Peninsula Town Center are celebrating their one-year anniversary. As part of that celebration, they welcomed members of a non-profit organization called Survivor Ventures.
The founder and CEO of the Norfolk-based non-profit says it provides survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence with support and resources needed to give them independence.
“Human trafficking is the exchange of a sex or labor act for the benefit of someone else, and it has to be committed through force, fraud or coercion,” explained Tiffany McGee. “In Hampton Roads, it can look like prostitution."
McGee also said that Virginia ranks 15th in the country for human trafficking and that many cases are not reported.
“So, if we’re already tracking at 15th in the nation, we can assume that the problem is much worse. It’s sometimes hard to see trafficking,” added McGee. “So, it’s happening all around us, and it can happen to anyone. And I know a lot of people think this happens in other countries and if it’s happening here, it’s happening to foreign nationals, and that’s simply not the case.”
Participants of the Survivors to Entrepreneurs program were invited to Smoothie Stop to network and celebrate.
The owner of the smoothie shop said they’re excited to give a portion of their proceeds to a non-profit that helps empower women.
“Being that Smoothie Stop is a woman-owned business, we thought it would be a good idea to help the call for getting women out there and working and owning their own,” said Kim Taylor.
Owners of Smoothie Stop say if customers come in anytime through October and mention this fundraiser, they will give a portion of proceeds to Survivor Venture.