CLARKSVILLE – Kristy Love was multitasking just hours before the grand opening of Southern Indiana’s first human-trafficking safe home.
Love was all smiles as she juggled last-minute paint touch-ups at the new Hannah’s House in Clarksville with shooting a Facebook Live video asking everyone who supports the movement to come out to the event.
Love said she was expecting a big turnout – and she got it in abundance.
"Wow – look at all these people," she said, looking around as people filled the house, the driveway and the yard.
Southern Indiana did indeed roll out the welcome mat to the Kristy Love Foundation, with numerous area social agencies and local citizens attending the event to show support and offer their services to the residents of Hannah's House.
"I wanted to let her know that we are here to support in all the ways we can. We want to help," said Malinda Mackenzie, outreach coordinator for LifeSpring Health Systems, which provides comprehensive behavioral health and addiction services.
"We offer so many services that would be of benefit to them."
The home, tucked away at 123 Redden St., will provide a healing and empowering environment for the residents as they work to recover from numerous psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical scars resulting from being trafficked.
As the news spread last week about the safe home’s opening, Love said she and those who work within her foundation received an outpouring of support from individuals and agencies alike.
"This is just such a blessing," Love said. "Southern Indiana sure has welcomed us with open arms – offering help, donations and lots of love ... We'll take all we can get."
"I think its wonderful the compassion that she has for these individuals, and we just want to be a support for them in anyway that we can," said Tina Hamilton from Our Place, which provides Southern Indiana education, prevention and intervention services regarding alcohol, tobacco or other drugs of abuse.
The Kristy Love Foundation is a survivor-led, trauma-informed program that provides comprehensive services to women suffering from addiction, prostitution and human trafficking.
Although her foundation runs three safe homes in Louisville and has been working with human-trafficking survivors for nearly 10 years, Monday night's grand opening was monumental for Love and her namesake organization because she has prayed to open a safe home in Indiana for five years.
Hannah's House will specifically serve young women ages 16 to 25. Love hopes to open another safe home in Southern Indiana by Christmas to serve even more women of different ages if she can get the support.
Not only will the ladies of Hannah's House receive love and support from the community, but they will also return the love and support to the community through service and outreach, including making baby hats and serving community meals.
"We teach the girls how to give back," Love said.
While it may be easy for some to think there isn't a need for a safe home in the local area, Love cautions the public to not be fooled by appearances.
Throughout her years in Louisville, she has met "quite a few" victims and survivors of human trafficking from Southern Indiana.
Kristina Smith, an EMT from Louisville who co-chairs the Louisville Metro Human-Trafficking Task Force, said that her organization has also worked with human-trafficking victims from Southern Indiana.
She praised the opening of the safe home in Clarksville because it will not only allow the women from the area to heal properly, but it will benefit those they love as well.
"The women that are going to live here are going to be closer to their families," she said.
"This is a thing that gets overlooked sometimes – how it affects kids when they are separated from their moms. This is a great benefit for the women and the community."
Paige Hessel with Volunteers of America agreed.
She has served the other safe homes in Louisville by providing HIV testing for the residents. Hessel has witnessed first-hand the success that comes with Love's safe homes.
"This is such a positive. People come into her programs, live in the homes, take care of the property and are giving to others. That only impacts positively the neighborhood and the community around them," Hessel said.
"It's not a flop house ... it's a space of recovery, safety and healing. That can only be good for any community in my mind, so I think it's a wonderful thing."