Refuge of Light, a local safehouse for minors rescued from sex trafficking, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, with a drive-through taco dinner fundraiser at First Baptist Church of Palestine, 5700 TX-256 Loop.
The nonprofit has raised funds at an annual gala each year since its opening in 2010, but altered its plans this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Supporters can purchase tickets online at refugeoflight.org. Some meals will be available for purchase the day of the event, but online purchases are recommended.
Tickets are $15 each, and include two street tacos, rice, beans, a bottle of water, and two Tasty Traditions decorated cookies. Guests can also purchase an event T-shirt for $20.
The fundraiser will support the center’s daily operations, which include food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for 13 girls ages 10 to 17. The shelter also provides education, counseling, mentoring, spiritual healing, and pet therapy to residents.
The drive-through event will be staffed by almost 50 volunteers, including many dozens of school students from Anderson and Smith counties. As guests drive through the church parking lot, they will see a display of 10 large panels celebrating Refuge of Light’s accomplishments over the past decade.
Mike and Norma Mullican and their daughter, Missy Zivney, opened the shelter in 2010 as a therapeutic foster home for six girls, but the operation expanded in 2019 and transitioned to a residential treatment center. Zivney said the program has helped roughly 30 girls over the past decade.
Barbara Waldon, a family member, said she decided to help the Refuge 10 years ago when she became aware that sexual trafficking occurs in her own community.
“It was such a sobering thought that this could be happening in our schools,” Waldon said.
Zivney, Refuge of Light’s spokesperson, said the organization has thrived with God’s help.
“We have learned that the backdrop of impossibility is where God does His greatest work,” Zivney said. “We are extremely grateful to celebrate a decade of deliverance with our friends and family.”
Refuge of Light also conducts two non-residential community programs to prevent sex trafficking. The Brave Girl program has reached roughly 500 girls in Anderson and Smith counties.
The second, known as Traffic Signals Training, educates community leaders, teachers, medical professionals, emergency responders, and college students about signs of sex trafficking and how to report it.
For more information about Refuge of Light, visit their website or on Facebook @refugeoflight.