'A choice was taken from them': Bethlehem non-profit helps survivors of human trafficking and exploitation

Alyssa Santana is a 30-year-old survivor who says she was "really lost" when she first came to Bloom, a program she credits for her new life.

"My main reason I was here is for trafficking, prostitution and sexual exploitation," Santana said. 

Bloom, a non-profit organization that helps women 18 and older in Bethlehem, helped her move from her past to create a safe and fulfilling present. 

"I would be in and out the streets, in the alleyways. I would be in and out of cars," she said.

Today, she sees a completely different person after completing the program, and now works for Bloom.

"Proud. Someone brave. A survivor. Leader," she said.  


Carol Andersen, the CEO of Bloom, says their missions is "to provide a sanctuary to heal, empower, employee women survivors of trafficking and exploitation."

"A choice was taken from them, whether it be at a younger age when they were first victimized and that may be a pattern that continued, and certainly they've been oppressed and held captive," Andersen said.

Women can live free up to two years in homes provided by Bloom with access to resources. The organization has also created My Sister’s Closet, a women’s resale clothing store where some of the survivors’ work. 

"Our hope is that they can chase those dreams and live a life that's meaningful and filled with love," Andersen said. 

Ashley Caravello, a 33-year-old survivor of exploitation, is now the administrative coordinator for Bloom and exemplifies their mission statement.

"I felt like I had a purpose. I had unbiased people that could propel me to a better future," Caravello said. "Where we were doesn't dictate where we're going."

 Bloom relies 100 percent on donations to operate. If you would like to donate, or volunteer, visit the Bloom website.