Local non profit creates fundraiser to change lives, article by Nicolas Cordero

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The chance to win over $30,000 worth of professional camera equipment while helping victims of sexual exploitation is available to members of the Billings community, thanks to the “For Her Raffle” created by the local non-profit organization called the Her Campaign.

The “For Her Raffle” is a fundraiser aimed at providing a safe home for women who have been victims of sexual exploitation. The raffle prize is $31,000 worth of top-of-the-line Canon camera gear. The raffle tickets are $100 and only 500 will be sold. Her Campaign was created in 2015 after a couple from Montana, local filmmakers Britney and Sam Higgs, saw an overwhelming need for holistic restoration centers for sexual trafficking victims. The organization’s program provides safe homes, trauma informed care, therapy, education, and job opportunities for victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking.

In 2015, Britney Higgs witnessed the horror of the sex industry when she traveled to Iraq and learned about the strategies ISIS uses to kidnap and rape women after the terrorist organization takes over cities.POSTCARD_RAFFLE

“The sex industry the second biggest industry in the world only second to drugs,” said Higgs. “We saw the utter depravity of it and decided to take a stand.”

The Higgs sold their home and quit their successful careers in order to start the non-profit. They stepped into a two-year process of training and developing a network of professionals to effectively care for victims of abuse.  A huge accomplishment for Her Campaign was the opening of their first safe house this past December, which accommodates victims of sexual exploitation and teaches them skills to be self-sufficient.

“A safe house is a home that women who have been sexually exploited live in and go through a holistic restoration program,” said Britney Higgs, a former Rocky Mountain College student. “What that looks like is trauma informed based care.”

Higgs explained that the approach of the program is based on evidence of the effects of trauma on the brain. The six-month program is designed to give victims the tools and resources necessary to heal.

Dave Shumway, adjunct Rocky Mountain College professor, director of communications for Volunteers of America, and professional freelance photographer; partnered with Her Campaign to make the For Her Raffle possible. Shumway donated over $30,000 worth of camera gear, but he also provided the organization with mentorship about the world of non-profits.

“I have been their friend that knows about the non-profit world,” said Shumway. “It is a different world. It is not like the business world at all. Non-profits are a beast of their own.”

Raffle_1The safe home provides refuge for 3-4 women at a time, and guides them through a one-on-one holistic restoration process and provides the resources and education needed to step into a successful future.

“I’ve seen miracles every day,” said Higgs. “Last week a woman got a job and that is a huge step for her. We expect that in six months she is [will be] self-sufficient.”

Higgs said that many of the women that come out of the sexual exploitation lifestyle lack the knowledge of how to maintain healthy eating and sleeping habits. A big challenge for the organization is to make sure that the women don’t go back to the sex industry.

“Statistically the women that come out of the sex industry go straight back to prostitution,” said Higgs.

However, Her Campaign aims to prepare these women to be proactive members of society by helping them find a purpose for themselves.

“After women start to heal we get them to dream again,” said Higgs. “We help them to figure out what they like to do and what they dream about doing.”

The MoAv Coffee House located in Downtown Billings is a proud supporter of Her Campaign and now has a variety of $20 t-shirts available for purchase. All proceeds go toward helping the non-profit.

The items in the “For Her Raffle” prize include: four DSLR cameras, six professional lenses, a variety of tripods, external flashes, camera cases, batteries, chargers and a lot more!

If you want to purchase a ticket “For Her Raffle”, or want to learn more about combating sexual exploitation visit https://www.hercampaign.org

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