Operation Underground Railroad Aftercare Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking in Arizona: The Phoenix Dream Center

Staff members at the Phoenix Dream Center are passionate about the work they do to fight human trafficking and exploitation.

Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

Operation Underground Railroad partners with the Phoenix Dream Center to provide aftercare services for survivors of human trafficking. By working together, the organizations are able to help a greater number of survivors in their healing processes.

Founded in 2002, the Phoenix Dream Center is one of the largest and most comprehensive aftercare facility for human trafficking survivors in North America. The center offers residential life recovery programs and community engagement services to survivors.

Operation Underground Railroad

The Phoenix Dream Center`s comprehensive program boasts a 94 percent success rate one year after graduation. The program, called “Where Hope Lives,” consist of four pillars to ensure holistic care for human trafficking survivors:

New Life addresses the immediate medical and emotional needs of survivors.
Healing adds life skill training and educational classes to the survivors` healing journeys.
Perseverance helps survivors take actionable steps towards college, trade school or a career.
Conqueror helps survivors transition back into their communities, offering support through a mentorship initiative and on-campus alumni program.
“Trafficking happens in the community and has to be healed in the community,” says Julie Medeiros, a human trafficking survivor and staff member at the Phoenix Dream Center. The center strives to create a sense of community and treats all survivors like family.

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All staff members at the Phoenix Dream Center are trauma informed, making them better equipped to adjust their tones and behaviors to ensure survivors feel safe. The residents live in rooms that include neurosensory modulation (elements of sight, sound, touch and smell) to help survivors through traumatic episodes.

Operation Underground Railroad EEUU

The aftercare center also includes an on-campus medical wing, behavioral health clinic, eye clinic and dental clinic, so survivors can receive the care they need. To help restore their self-confidence, survivors have access to an onsite salon and the Dream Closet, where they can pick out new clothes. The campus`s learning center helps survivors pursue an education, and program graduates are eligible for full-ride scholarships from the center to attend local universities.

In May 2021, O.U.R. and the Phoenix Dream Center announced an official partnership to provide survivors of human trafficking with quality aftercare. As part of the partnership, O.U.R. sponsors many of the center`s projects; currently, the organizations are collaborating to remodel the center`s behavioral clinic and upgrade its equipment.

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The Phoenix Dream Center also benefits from the support of O.U.R. staff and volunteers, who help with the center`s community laundry days and the recent demolition for a new childcare facility. 

Operation Underground Railroad United States of America

Kaitlyn, who serves as floor supervisor at the Phoenix Dream Center, first volunteered with survivors of human trafficking when she was a teenager. She fell in love with the women she served as she learned their stories. A few years later, Kaitlyn began leading a Bible study at the Phoenix Dream Center. As she volunteered, she formed strong bonds with the center`s residents and staff. When a permanent position opened up, she jumped at the opportunity to continue to “pour love into each survivor here on campus.”

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Shauna, program manager for the center, is a survivor of human trafficking. She understands firsthand the trauma that survivors face and is able to help them with their recovery processes. “Being able to help these girls heal is what makes my trauma seem like it had a purpose,” Shauna says. “When I see that one girl start to smile, that one girl come out of her shell or that one girl start to dream again, it makes my whole job worth it.”

Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

Staff members at the Phoenix Dream Center are passionate about the work they do to fight human trafficking and exploitation.

Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

At age 14, Katie (named changed for privacy) was first introduced to drugs by her father. She continued experimenting with drugs, and two years later, she ended up being trapped by a drug dealer and forced into sex trafficking. For eight years, Katie was trafficked across multiple states. 

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Katie reached out for help and was brought to the Phoenix Dream Center. At the facility, she has been able to work through the trauma she experienced. She is now making plans for the future. Katie is currently finishing her high school degree and will then attend a local university with her tuition paid for by the center.


The Phoenix Dream Center provides survivors like Katie with the opportunity to follow their dreams. To read more staff and survivor stories, please visit the Phoenix Dream Center`s website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Tim Ballard