Columbus Company Expands To Help Sex Trafficking Survivors

Jun 1, 2015

A Columbus company that gives people with criminal records a chance to work now plans to help survivors of sex trafficking. One survivor has worked her way through the company’s ranks and will manage the new cleaning business called She Has A Name Cleaning Services.   

Sex trafficking victims can lose their identity to a life of violence and lies as they’re forced to make money for pimps. But when they make it out, survivors face lots of challenges. Services for mental illness, addiction, housing and workforce training are aimed to help women recover.

But social entrepreneur John Rush said there’s a gap in actual jobs.

“If there aren’t the employment opportunities…where you can actually earn your living, that’s the missing link.”

Rush already runs a business that employs the virtually unemployable: people with criminal records and recovering addicts. The company, Clean Turn, provides grounds keeping, general labor and janitorial services. Rush had an idea.

“What if we took our cleaning business line at Clean Turn and have that specifically become a second option for survivors," he said. 

He started the She Has A Name Cleaning Services. It’s in its infancy, open just three weeks. But Rush envisions success and an opportunity to create other spin offs. He points to Clean Turn, which he said generated $400,000 in revenue the past three years.

“There’s a growing trend in the marketplace to receive a product or service that’s also connected to a cause. And so, we want to take advantage of that growing interest in the marketplace where people are willing to spend money, and not just spend it to receive something," Rush said. "But also spend it to receive something that at the same time allows them to know that they’re also contributing, and giving, and investing and changing people’s lives.”

“Hi. My name is Angela Wilson.”

It’s 8 o’clock on Wednesday morning, but Wilson has been at work for an hour already. In her truck, packed with mops, brooms, a water bucket and other supplies, she heads to an apartment building on East Broad St.

Using a mop bucket, she rolls the tools into the building. 

You could say Wilson is Clean Turn’s success story. She’s worked there for three years and received promotions. Now she supervises the new She Has A Name workers.

“Sometimes that can be difficult because of the fact that people are looking at me all hard and saying why is she like that," she said. "But you know there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with the title of being a supervisor.”

A decade ago, Wilson was in a much different place in life. Her drug use snowballed into an unimaginable life. She relied on prostitution to pay for the drugs. And her then-boyfriend began to force her to, what she calls, “turn dates.”

“It took me five years to get out of it."

In 2011, she spent nine months in jail for drug possession. A prison Bible study linked her with John Rush at Clean Turn.

“It’s held me accountable...It’s just been really, really a blessing to be here. You know, and I believe in our mission, to help that next individual that’s coming in after me. That’s what I truly believe in, and that’s why I give it my all," Wilson said. 

She Has A Name hopes to hire two dozen women this year. 

Employees start out making minimum wage, but after a probationary period, pay increases to $10 - $12 an hour. Supervisors, like Wilson, make up to $15 an hour.

Rush expects as demand grows, so will the company’s ability to increase salaries. But he encourages his employees to use their current job as a stepping stone to more opportunities.

We asked Angela Wilson what’s in store for her next.

“I don’t know, maybe stick with them because they’ve been so good to me," she answered.