|| News: Sisters Offering Support closing|
Sisters Offering Support closing
By Mary Vorsino|
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
WEB SITE WILL REMAIN UP
Though Sisters Offering Support will shut down on Sept. 30, its Web
site will stay up until March 2007 to provide inspiration to those
trying to escape prostitution, said executive director Lorraine
Faithful.The Web site, at www.soshawaii.org, has testimonials from former prostitutes and links to other resources in the Islands and on the Mainland.
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police battle a rise in prostitution on O'ahu, the only organization in
the Islands aimed at helping prostitutes escape sexual exploitation for
better lives is closing because of a lack of money.
the last decade, organizers said Sisters Offering Support has helped
hundreds leave prostitution. It has also worked to prevent young people
from being lured into the industry, promoted safe sex among prostitutes
and helped federal authorities reduce sex trafficking in Hawai'i.
has been the most rewarding years of my life, being part of an
organization that has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals
get out of an exploitative lifestyle," said Lorraine Faithful,
executive director since 2001. "For so many years, I've been helping to
build the organization. Now, I'm having to tear it down."
Residents and advocates for women say closure of the nonprofit is a loss to the community and couldn't come at a worse time.
August, Honolulu police reported prostitution arrests were up in 2005
for the first time in four years. Last year, prostitution arrests
jumped 51 percent from 2004, from 265 to 401 islandwide, according to
increase, along with a July homicide linked to prostitution, spurred an
outcry Downtown, with residents calling for prostitution-free zones and
tougher sentences for prostitutes and "clients" who get caught.
Smyth, Downtown Ho-nolulu Neighborhood Board chairman, said bringing
harsher punishments against prostitutes will likely decrease crime. But
the best deterrent, he said, is to get prostitutes out of the sex
to me, is the most effective way to deal with the overall problem
because it addresses the overall population," Smyth said, expressing
dismay at the closure of Sisters Offering Support. "We definitely
recognize their efforts."
nonprofit will officially dismantle on Sept. 30, about a month after
its board decided to shut down in the face of diminishing funds.
the agency's two employees have been laid off, a 24-hour crisis hotline
is no longer manned and new clients are not being accepted. Worst of
all, Faithful said, about 500 people being helped with counseling
programs were told in mid-September they would have to seek help
Kipa, a nonprofit serving at-risk youth, agreed to pick up the
educational component of Sisters Offering Support. "That is the nice,
positive spin to this whole story," Faithful said. "Some of our
programs will survive."
Hill, a former prostitute, founded Sisters Offering Support in 1996.
Over the years, the organization has received praise for its success in
changing people's lives and educating the community about sexual
declined to go into the details of the nonprofit's finances for 2006
but said individual donor contributions had dropped significantly this
year while operating costs continued to rise. Plus, the agency had no
the middle of August, we saw some writing on the wall," Faithful said.
"A lot of local donors chose to support the Hurricane Katrina victims."
the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, Sisters Offering Support got
$217,888 — the bulk of which came from public donations and grants,
according to tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
operating funds were an increase of about $10,000 from 2003, but about
$70,000 lower than totals for the three previous years.
2004, salary costs amounted to $121,396, with Faithful earning $47,500
a year. Program costs amounted to $189,221, the returns show.
funds went to helping between 400 and 500 clients a year, and putting
on educational programs at dozens of Hawai'i public schools.
the agency's most recent annual report, issued last year, there were no
apparent signs of trouble. In fact, Faithful expressed hopes in the
document of opening a transitional shelter for prostitutes by 2008 and
discussed the possibility of establishing a school for those arrested
for hiring a prostitute.
yesterday said the agency is small and any decrease in funding affected
its ability to remain open. "We were already working on the bare-bones
minimum," she said. "We're hoping that someone in Hawai'i will maybe
pick up this same idea and continue these services elsewhere."
Ka'uhane Lupenui, president and chief executive officer of YWCA O'ahu,
said she knows all too well about the challenges of running a nonprofit.
she said, organizations are willing to give funds for programs but
won't donate unrestricted money that can be used for everything from
office supplies to wages. "We really diversify our funding stream," she
it's a case example: We know sexual exploitation is huge, and here's an
organization that was committed to prevention and intervention, yet
they couldn't get the funding. That's scary for any nonprofit."
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