Selah Freedom, Southeastern Guide Dogs receive grants

MANATEE -- Selah Freedom officials were ecstatic Friday to learn that Peace River Electric Cooperative's charitable foundation in Wauchula had granted it $20,000 to help victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The grant providers from Operation Round Up, the charitable arm of the cooperative, also announced Friday it had awarded $5,000 to Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto to pay for meals for the service-dog recipients during the month-long training at Southeastern, according to the press release.

For too long, human trafficking has been a hidden problem, said Elizabeth Fisher, president and chief executive officer of the Sarasota-based Selah Freedom. Fisher said.

"It was enough of a challenge to teach people it was happening and to take action, but now we are starting to see people and corporations rise up,"

The $20,000 will be used for basic needs for some of the young people Selah Freedom helps, including providing medical and dental care,

Fisher said.

Between 300 and 400 victims of sexual exploitation will benefit from the $20,000 grant, including some who will be able to get treatment for trauma with Jason Quintal, a Lakewood Ranch licensed clinical therapist and social worker who offers trauma counseling, she said.

Southeastern Guide Dog invites students to train with their new service dogs on campus for 26 days and, during that time, the group provides for all their needs free of charge, including equipment, instruction, housing and food, in addition to the dog.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.