COMMUNITY GEMS: Area woman is ‘beacon of light’ for human trafficking survivors

Mandy Reed founded Dear Dinah to help survivors of human trafficking in Dayton

For Mandy Reed, a success is anytime she sees a survivor of human trafficking stop believing the lies they’ve been told. When they find out they can get a job or go to school. That they can make it on their own.

“Anytime we see those lies replaced by truth, that’s a victory,” she said.

When Reed first felt called to help these survivors, she read and researched to better understand the crisis. That knowledge and desire to help eventually led her to found Dear Dinah. The nonprofit is now two years old.

Gretchen Prine, who nominated Reed as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem, called her a “beacon of light” for those she helps.

The two women know each other from church, and Prine said it is clear that the issue is important to Reed.

“She felt God tugging at her heart to start something and try to get these women – or anybody, really – out of human trafficking,” said Prine, of Huber Heights.

Reed named the organization after reading a story in the Bible about Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, who was violated by a man. Her voice, Reed said, is never heard in the story, but the words “dear Dinah” repeated themselves in her head.

She looked up the meaning of the words and found in their definitions just how she wants survivors to feel.

“What they need to know is they are cherished and loved and vindicated,” she said.

These survivors visit the organization, located in the Dayton Dream Center, at 2720 E. Third St., to rest and receive support. Dear Dinah can meet some of their needs or connect them with other community partners that can serve them.

“We’re just here to walk with you and be the community you need,” said Reed, 38, who has lived in the Dayton area for most of the last decade, spending two of those years in Tennessee with her husband and two young children to foster five additional kids.

Dear Dinah does street outreach in at-risk areas and also offers support groups, art therapy and other services. There also is a basket of handwritten notes written by other women telling visitors that they are loved and not forgotten. Some visitors, Reed said, go straight to the basket to choose a card.

Although it is difficult to estimate how many people Dear Dinah has served – some are reached for a moment, and others form longer bonds – Reed knows that trafficking remains a problem in the Dayton area.

“Traffickers prey on vulnerabilities,” she said.

The key is for others to see those vulnerabilities and meet those needs in caring, loving ways, she said. When a car is on the side of the road, pull over and check if the driver needs help. When a single mother has hungry kids, drop off food or offer to watch the children.

Contact an organization like Dear Dinah if you suspect something might be wrong, she said. The organization can be reached at

Trafficking is a problem, but it is one that community members and organizations are fighting, Reed said.

“I think we’re really moving in the direction we need to stop this in our city,” she said.

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