PORT ROYAL - Music pounds her ears in the dark setting of a strip club. Her head is bowed and she is holding hands - praying - with one of the evening's performers.
Karen Yoder, of Port Royal, is one of eight volunteers involved with the ministry "She's Somebody's Daughter."
She's Somebody's Daughter, or SSD, is based in Dauphin County. There are four components to the mission of the group: truth and awareness about sexual exploitation, partnerships and networking by working together and sharing resources, outreach by going out and loving them and prayer in a circle of compassion.
A billboard with a picture of a young woman and the phrase ‘She’s Somebody’s Daughter’ can be seen along U.S. 322 near Clarks Ferry, an area where several strip clubs and adult bookstores are located.
Karen Yoder, of Port Royal, is one of eight volunteers involved with the ministry ‘She’s Somebody’s Daughter.’ Volunteers travel to strip clubs in Dauphin County and the Gettysburg area twice per month to bring gift bags and meals to the women.
Billboards with a picture of a young woman and the saying "She's Somebody's Daughter" can be seen along U.S. 322 near Clarks Ferry, an area where several strip clubs and adult bookstores are located.
Yoder began working with the organization after training in February. She and other volunteers go into clubs in Dauphin County and the Gettysburg region twice each month. They bring gift bags and meals for the women.
"Our main purpose is to go in and love them. That is the reason I got involved," Yoder said.
About a year ago, Yoder said she was driving through the Clarks Ferry area on her way home from Lancaster when she looked closely at the night clubs and their suggestive advertisements.
"I would just break down into tears," she said, wondering if there was something she could do to help women caught up in this career.
When she learned about SSD, she jumped right in to help - first by making meals. She then was asked if she would like to deliver the meals. Hesitant at first, Yoder accepted the offer. She has been going twice per month since April.
"We're there for the girls," she said, explaining the dark atmosphere. Volunteers from SSD do not communicate with patrons. They establish a relationship with managers and employees.
"We always go in teams of two or three (volunteers)," she said, adding that she has never felt unsafe.
Patrons have begun referring to SSD volunteers as "the church ladies." Even the employees of the clubs refer to them in this way - but with gratitude. The volunteers do not go into the club waving Bibles, Yoder said, even though they have given Bibles to those who requested them. Their focus is more on developing friendships and praying with the women.
"We talk about their struggles and ask them, 'Do you mind if we pray?'" she said. "No one has ever said 'no.'"
SSD volunteers also invite the women to events outside of the clubs, such as spa days and pizza nights. Usually a dozen women and their families attend these events, Yoder said.
Many of these women have expressed a desire to leave their jobs. SSD has an office on Front Street in Harrisburg that invites women to come in and search the Internet for better jobs and to prepare resumes.
This is an effort, Yoder said, that cannot be ignored - even in rural areas like Juniata, Mifflin and Snyder counties. Too often, she said, Christians want to ignore the fact that it is even happening around them.
"Jesus sought the broken-hearted and the needy. He was among them," she said. "We can't just turn our eyes away and ignore it. That's the tricky part."
Prayer is most important, Yoder said, and residents of the Juniata Valley can make a difference, too. Anyone wanting more information or to make a donation should visit www.shessomebodysdaughter.org or mail correspondence to She's Somebody's Daughter, 1152 Mae Street No. 233, Hummelstown, PA, 17036.