Jasmine Road receives 2022 Community Spirit Award
A Path Home
by Abby Moore Keith
A housing-first program for trafficking survivors, Jasmine Road helps women heal through a host of community partnerships
Click here to watch the video that accompanies the article from TOWN’s November Giving Issue!
“I’ve spoken with hundreds of women that have been involved in human trafficking and prostitution. None of them would tell you . . . that this was their choice. It was something they had to do in order to survive,” says Beth Messick, executive director of Jasmine Road.
As a two-year residential program for women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction, Jasmine Road is the only program of its kind in South Carolina. A beacon of light for survivors, its safe housing, meaningful employment, and wealth of community support opens a path toward healing for those it serves.
When Messick first learned about human trafficking, she was shocked it was happening in her hometown. Around the time she developed relationships with trafficked Greenville women, Triune Mercy Center and Christ Church conceived of a housing-first program. Messick soon joined their cause, and Jasmine Road launched in 2018 with one house and five women.
Though Messick says they could have immediately filled five houses, she stresses women’s difficulty in leaving their situations. All have experienced traumatic circumstances that make them ideal targets for sellers who manipulate them with promises of protection, love, or drugs, creating toxic, dependent relationships. Often, the women struggle to trust. “In many cases, it has taken me two years to build a relationship with someone before she’s willing to come off the streets,” Messick says. “Because no one in their world has ever done what they say they’re going to do.”
Once in the program, over fifty community members envelop the women with a host of resources. Free health and trauma services from Bon Secours St. Francis, YMCA workouts, addiction withdrawal programs, Project Host culinary classes, art and equine therapy—the list goes on. Combined with the support of their fellow sisters and job skills training, the women graduate with an enormous care network. And none have returned to the streets.
“Jasmine Road is a community effort; we can’t do this alone,” Messick says. “It took a lot of broken systems for them to wind up on the street, and it takes a community to welcome them back home.”
For Messick and the Jasmine Road team, the depth of community support has not only been a rewarding gift, it’s essential to the success of the women in the program. “Whether it’s a community partner, patron of the kitchen, or volunteer, our community has invested so much in Jasmine Road,” Messick says. “I love that they believe in the women we are serving. That’s what changes a life, to invest and believe in the person that you’re serving.”
Jasmine Road is named after the South Carolina state flower, the jasmine, representing light and hope, contrasting the darkness of the streets. The “road” represents the journey each woman embarks on towards healing.
With the launch of their second home this year, Jasmine Road aims to reach their max capacity of fifteen residents.
Jasmine Kitchen, one of the program’s social enterprises, is a lunch bistro on Augusta Street open Monday–Friday.
Six women have graduated from Jasmine Road. Each graduate has long-term sobriety, stable housing, and sustainable employment.
Upon graduation, finding affordable housing is a significant barrier for women. Partnerships with Front Porch Housing and Homes of Hope have provided safe and affordable places for women to reenter the community.
Jasmine Road is modeled after Thistle Farms, a two-year residential program in Nashville, Tennessee, founded by Becca Stevens.
In addition to Jasmine Kitchen, women gain job skills through candle and jewelry making, creating beautiful products available for purchase on the program’s website.Back to News