Oasis House is a faith-based organization that reaches out to women to help transform their lives. These are the women who have been victimized by the sex trade and human trafficking in Dayton and the Miami Valley. The organization is an oasis, a place of refuge, for these women. This scripture is found on its website:
“For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”
The nonprofit organization has had a major impact in giving women who have been trafficked or involved in the sex trade a new life. Gigi Jhair of Dayton is one of those success stories.
“I found out about Oasis House eight years ago when I was in Montgomery County Jail. I’d been on the streets for about 22 years,” said Jhair. “I had started drinking early in life, smoked crack and eventually lost custody of my two children.”
She had been arrested nine times for prostitution, cycling in and out of jail. It wasn’t an easy fix; she graduated several times from the Oasis House’s YES program. The last time she was incarcerated, she vowed to recover. Now Jhair works as a volunteer for Oasis House and has been sober for the past three years.
“They have a psychologist you can talk to. They give you a Bible, but they don’t judge you,” said Jhair. “They taught me about finances and how to get back into society. I’ve been in a lot of treatment centers, but Oasis House gets down deep to what the problems are, and they stay with you to help.”
There are many more women who need help, and Oasis House is holding its Fifth Annual Spring Tea and Fashion Show at the Tipp City United Methodist Church on April 12 to raise money for its programs.
The event will feature a silent auction, including the following items: Cincinnati Zoo gift basket; Coach handbag/makeup clutch; teapot, vase and gemstone pendant by local artisans; handmade lap quilts; Dayton Dragons gift basket; Teavana tea set; Dayton Philharmonic gift package; Dayton Art Institute gift certificates; and an Eden Salon & Spa package.
For the first time, some of the fashion show models will include survivors. They will be presenting clothing from the Oasis House Boutique. WFCJ Morning Show anchor Kelly O’Brady will emcee the event.
There will be a light lunch of tea sandwiches, fruit, pastries, and tea courtesy of the Tipp City United Methodist women’s group.
“Oasis House is filled with God’s love to help the less fortunate, and we are blessed to be able to do our part in any way we can,” said Ellen Hazel, 45-year church member and president of the UM women’s group. “About 25 of us help out on a regular basis with cooking, baking, mentoring, praying, and sending cards. Reaching out is what God says we’re to do.”
Oasis’s YES mentoring program has a strong faith component. YES stands for ‘You’re Extra Special.’ The women are given a Life Recovery Bible and urged to start a walk of faith. The organization also has a jail ministry, outreach teams, GED tutoring, counseling, computer training, and a trained Ohio Benefit Bank counselor.
“The Christian women come to the table on a level playing field with these women. They develop relationships to walk alongside them, listen to them, and be their friend,” said OH executive director Cheryl Oliver.
The Spring Tea and Fashion Show had 220 in attendance last year, up by 100 from the previous year. The organization took in $6,000 for its programs, and also brought in new partners for its cause. Oliver used to work in government finance and for the criminal justice council. She became interested in helping these women after becoming involved in the prostitution intervention collaborative with the council. She switched jobs four and a half years ago.
“My husband likes to joke that I took a 65 percent pay cut to take this job, but we’ve never missed a house payment and always have food on the table,” said Oliver. “But I’m passionate about helping these women. It’s fulfilling and rewarding, and I am very blessed to have this job.”