JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Like any remodel, it's the potential of what's to come that brings excitement to the finished product.
For Donna Fenchel, she sees beyond the current state of a vacant home on Jacksonville's westside as an opportunity for women in need.
"They are going to become model citizens and that is what we are after," she told First Coast News.
She's one of the founders of the Villages of Hope, a non-profit that provides a new life to survivors of sex trafficking.
She bought an acre property off I-10 to continue that mission. At least eight tiny homes are planned where 16 women can find help and healing rent-free for up to two years.
"They live a life underground and then they live in a life of prostitution, a life of living on the street or they end up in jail. That's when they realize they want out," Fenchel described.
Three other organizations are partnering with Fenchel to complete the project, but she's also looking for sponsors.
She says Jacksonville is the third-largest city in the state for sex trafficking with victims as young as 9 years old. Fenchel says 2019 saw an alarming number of rescues.
"There was at least 70 girls that were rescued off the streets that were trafficked at some point in their lives that wanted to come off and there are just so safe beds for them," she said.
She hopes to have the first tiny home complete in a little more than a month.
Each home can cost more than $30,000 to build. It's an investment she says is worth making.
"Our first home was donated to us and we are so grateful but we are ready to reach out and have others do as well," Fenchel said.
For more information about the project, including the application process, click here.
Fenchel is organizing a 'Pasta for a Purpose' dinner fundraiser on Saturday, September 18. Details can be found here.