The Gray Haven Project: Local nonprofit helps victims of human trafficking

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities

Josh and Andrea Bailey

Josh and Andrea Bailey, founders of The Gray Haven Project (TGHP)

RICHMOND, VAJanuary 8, 2013 — Meet Josh and Andrea Bailey, founders of The Gray Haven Project (TGHP), an organization which serves victims of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation in central Virginia.  TGHP has grown over the past year, and the Baileys have become inspirational leaders not only for their community but for a generation.

Josh and Andrea actively engage with younger audiences through social media and events in order to spread awareness about human trafficking.  TGHP joined the VANS Warped Tour in 2011, and again in 2012, as a way to promote prevention among teenagers.  Matt Greiner, drummer for the band August Burns Red, endorsed TGHP in this fundraiser video.

The Baileys also engage with area businesses and organizations in order to raise awareness about human trafficking and to coordinate local, effective services for Virginia-based survivors.  As a survivor of child sex trafficking, I am proud to partner with Gray Haven and I urge you, my fellow community members, to join them as well.

The Gray Haven Project offers a drop-in center for temporary refuge and casework management to local victims of human trafficking.  Casework management means connecting clients with local service providers, social service agencies, and other community-based businesses and organizations.

“We recognize that the nature of human trafficking is complex and requires a comprehensive array of restorative services,” Josh stated, “The philosophy of our model is based on a view that each survivor is different, has unique needs, and will need supportive services that are designed to address all levels of needs whether short-term, intermediate, or long-term.”

A typical progression of services at Gray Haven begins with a referral.  Gray Haven is first contacted through a referral from a relative or friend, a community organization, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), or another entity that has come into contact with a victim.

The Gray Haven Services Coordinator (SC) then visits the victim (or works with the victim to create a safety plan to leave their exploitative situation). After initial contact, the SC assesses the victim’s immediate needs, including medical care, shelter, clothing, food, security, and more.  Once stability is established, the SC will begin to assess the client’s secondary needs, and then Gray Haven works with him or her to establish short and long-term goals.

Every survivor of human trafficking followed a different path which ultimately led to their exploitation. Traffickers prey on vulnerability and vulnerability appears in many forms.  While many victims may need immediate housing, others may not.  As a 14-year-old victim of trafficking, I was fortunate in that I had a stable home environment to which I could return; however, I had little to no support or services available to deal with my specific trauma.  Without any involvement with or guidance from an organization that specialized in human trafficking victimization, I was left feeling hopeless and helpless.

“We spend time exploring how [survivors] can accomplish their goals and how we can help them get there,” Andrea stated, “This looks different for each person- how they process their trauma and move forward. We are there to walk with them through this process as a guide and friend.”

Gray Haven partners with mentoring organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) and the Boys and Girls Club in order to provide meaningful role model relationships to their younger clients.  Gray Haven also partners with service providers like Safe Harbor Shelter, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, and CrossOver Health Care Ministry in order to provide clients with shelter services, counseling, medical care, and more.  The law firm, Hunton & Williams, has also partnered with Gray Haven to offer legal services to those clients in need of legal guidance.

The Baileys explain that, upon graduating the program, each survivor has identified personal goals and a plan for education, employment, and other important aspects of life.

“The end result is that every survivor is healthy and moving forward independent of our program,” Josh stated, “However they want us to be a part of their story after the program is totally up to them. Throughout their time with us we hope they have learned that wherever they are in life, we are there as their biggest supporter. The end of their time with us is just the beginning of a new chapter in their story.”

If you are interested in partnering with Gray Haven, or with helping in other ways including fundraising, personal donations, and volunteering; please email Josh and Andrea at

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