CrossFit Winter Park Gifts Memberships to Female Sex Trafficking Survivors
The community at CrossFit Winter Park in Winter Park, FL has always used Christmas as a time to give back to those in need. Until this year, that meant donating all kinds of gifts to a chosen family in need to “brighten their holidays,” explained Stephanie Nickitas, the owner of CrossFit Winter Park for the past seven-and-a-half years. This year, they took a slightly different, yet possibly even more impactful, approach to the holidays.
The details: CrossFit Winter Park members rallied together and donated goods and gifts to Samaritan Village, a local non-profit organization and safe home that offers a holistic, trauma-informed therapeutic program to survivors of human trafficking. Many of the women stay in the program for 12 to 18 months.
- “Our members really went above and beyond. They always do. I don’t think they thought we’d come up with as much stuff for the women as we did. We gave them everything from pajamas, to slippers and bathrobes, to makeup supplies, gratitude journals, personal planners, calendars…all the way to basic house supplies, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies,” Nickitas said.
What happened next: The feedback, from both Samaritan Village and the women currently living in the safe house who received the various gifts, was so overwhelmingly grateful and positive that Nickitas started to wonder what else she could do.
- “My mind started turning a little bit, asking could we go a little step beyond and somehow get them involved with fitness” she explained.
- So she approached the staff at Samaritan Village again to see if there would be an interest in bringing the women from the safe house into the morning bootcamp classes at CrossFit Winter Park. “They said, “Absolutely, that would be amazing,” said Nickitas, who then offered to donate a three-month membership for each of the survivors.
- On April 5, the women attended their first bootcamp class with the CrossFit Winter Park community. They attended two more classes that week, and their plan is to continue coming three days a week, Nickitas explained. “They can come as much as they want, but I think three days a week for now is what fits into their schedule,” she added.
The big picture: Though it’s just the beginning, Nickitas is confident that CrossFit, and being around her community members, has the potential to make a huge difference for these women.
- “I know it can help empower these ladies on their recovery journey…it’s just another resource in their journey to total health. The traffickers worked hard to break them down with shame, isolation, and degradation. At CrossFit Winter Park, we are coming alongside them with tools and encouragement that will motivate them to create and maintain a future of health, strength, and pride,” she said.
- “So giving them the chance to get out there and be active and learn how fitness can help them feel great, I think, will be incredibly valuable.”