Friday, Nov. 17, 6-10 p.m., Macy’s Fountain Place, downtown
The sixth annual Style & Steps for Off the Streets fundraiser, fashion show and private shopping event at Macy’s will support the work of Cincinnati Union Bethel, both the oldest social service agency in the region and one of the most relevant today.
Founded in 1830, CUB serves the most vulnerable in the community through three programs: Anna Louise Inn, Off the Streets and Early Childhood Education.
Much of the focus now – when Ohio ranks fifth in the nation for cases of human trafficking and is in the midst of a heroin epidemic – is on the CUB program known as Off the Streets.
Created in 2006, OTS works exclusively with victims of human trafficking and prostitution, and has served over 900 women.
Right now there are 52 women on a list, waiting to get into the OTS program – a delay that puts their lives at risk every day they go without treatment.
All the women enter the program homeless. All also report substance abuse and trauma-related violence.
The event at Macy’s Fountain Place is a fun evening with a serious purpose.
The store will be closed to everyone but guests. It’s shop ’til you drop all evening with up to 60 percent off prices storewide.
The evening includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and champagne, a celebrity fashion show and a raffle of luxury items.
Tickets are $45.
Survivor’s focus now on helping others
Off The Streets director Viann Barnett has been a part of OTS since its early days.
As a “peer-modeled” program, women who receive services are paired with a case manager who has not only been educated and licensed in trauma-informed care, but has also had similar life experiences. This helps break down the walls of judgment, stigma and shame, and allows the healing process to begin.
Barnett understands the needs of clients of OTS. “These women are our daughters, sisters, mothers and friends. They are not second-class citizens who don’t deserve a second chance at community reintegration.”
Barnett, a survivor herself, has served Off the Streets, first as a case facilitator, then program supervisor and now program director, and has been directly involved in the identification of victims of domestic human trafficking and sexual exploitation, which is directly linked to substance abuse and chronic homelessness.
Through her initial work at the Center for Addictions Treatment Services, working as an intake professional, she was one of the first voices of hope for many addicts suffering chronic homelessness and seeking treatment.
Since 2006, she has helped women find secure housing, connect with mental health, medical, substance abuse and other direct services.
On a daily basis, she interacts with and advocates with community agencies, Hamilton County Justice Center and the Cincinnati Police Department to identify immediate safety and shelter, transitional and long-term housing and permanent supportive housing, for the women she serves.
Her personal victories include her own triumph over chronic homelessness, substance abuse and sexual exploitation. She recently celebrated 16 years clean and has completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Now she is pursuing her LCDC III with Ohio’s Chemical Dependency Board.