Dawn's house

About Us

Dawn's Place is a residential, 501(c) 3 non-profit organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. For the safety of our residents, our exact location is undisclosed. We are governed by a dedicated board of directors, cared for by professional staff, and assisted by active and committed volunteers. Dawn's Place is unique in that our program helps both foreign born and American women who have been victimized by Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE), commonly known as "sex trafficking" or slavery.

Dawn's Place works to improve the lives of women trapped by, or at risk for, CSE by providing housing, trauma recovery services, vocational training and other services. We also raise awareness of CSE via education, prevention, public policy reform and community collaborations.

Our residents come to us with various backgrounds often including: incarceration, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, sexual abuse, childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, insufficient medical care, poor nutrition, and separation or estrangement from family and country of origin.  

Through our residential program, the women can receive the important social enhancement, life skills, therapeutic and educational services necessary for their recovery after escaping a dangerous life of exploitation or slavery.

Women are referred to our program by various agencies, including: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, the State Department, Criminal Justice System, and social services agencies. Women may also refer themselves directly.  

If you, or someone you know, needs assistance contact us at info@ahomefordawn.org or call the toll free, confidential hotline (available 24/7) for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 888 3737 888

Our Vision

One of the primary visions for the founders of Dawn's Place was to provide women who voluntarily want to get out of being commercially sexually exploited a safe place to recover from the abuses they have suffered at the hands of their pimps and johns. This is why we have put together a three story house that is comfortable and feels "like home," in which they can begin their journey into recovering their dignity.

Mission Statement

Dawn’s Place pro-actively supports women affected by commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and its abuse by providing services to women, raising awareness through education, and generating prevention, public policy reform and community collaborations.  Because we believe that CSE is a violation of human rights and the most extreme form of domestic violence, Dawn’s Place works to improve the lives of women trapped by, or at risk for CSE, by providing housing, trauma recovery services, vocational training and other services.

Our Facilities

Our house is equipped with ten bedrooms in which our women can rest in privacy and peace. Each was set up to promote the comfort and healing that these women need. Currently we keep a number of beds set aside specifically to meet the needs of foreign trafficked women but also make sure to tend to the needs of domestically commerically sexually exploited women as well. This is part of what sets our program apart from the rest of such programs in the U.S.; that we tend to the needs of both foreign and domestically trafficked, prostituted, and pimped women.

Our Staff

Michelle Loisel, DC: Our Executive Director is a nurse with experience in ethics and leadership development. Her background includes hospital administration and outpatient services in the Middle East. Because of her experiences in various roles in diverse countries, Michelle is comfortable in multicultural settings. Her formation includes a degree with a major in theology. She was formed as a clinical pastoral educator and worked in the pastoral counseling program sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. This included work with crisis management and effective conflict responsiveness. Michelle's fluency in English, Arabic, French, and Creole is an asset when dealing with both domestic  and international clients.

Sister Eileen White: Our Day Residential Coordinator is responsible for coordinating activities, support services, scheduling, and occasional transportation for the residents. She serves as the liaison between service providers and residents, and collaborates with the social worker/case manager at Dawn's Place. Her fluency in Spanish is critical when dealing with Spanish-speaking residents, whether domestic or international. Eileen's background experiences include education of youth and adults, administration, and advocacy for the vulnerable in our society. Her qualifications include strategic planning, problem solving, and conflict management.

Victoria McDougald MSW, LCSW: graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Psychology and MSW in Social Work. Victoria has been licensed at the independent level in PA since 2003. In addition, Victoria had a private practice specialized in trauma treatment for 10 years. Victoria is trained in Body/Mind healing modalities and holistic body and energy work. She had earned a National Certification in Trauma-Focused CBT. Victoria has had extensive continuing education in co-occurring disorders and has experience as Clinical Manager of co-occurring disorders Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

Anne Marie Jones: Former resident and graduate of Dawn’s Place brings a unique perspective from the wisdom she has gained through her journey of transformation from victim to healer. Anne Marie, who is now a peer recovery specialist, initiated and developed a Twelve Step sexual exploitation recovery group. Because of her life experience, Anne Marie has expertise that professional training cannot replicate. She is able to assist the residents to articulate their goals for recovery and healing, and support them in advocating for themselves to obtain effective services.

Board Members

The Board of Dawn's Place includes a number of professionals who collectively have more than 30 years of experience in helping women trapped in CSE. They come from diverse backgrounds including psychiatric, nursing, social work, public policy fields, and criminal justice. All of these individuals have made a commitment to helping women out of CSE and informing the public of the unsuspected evils of CSE to women.
Sr. Terry Shields MSHR
Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary

Rev. Jack Deegan
Order of St. Augustine

Sr. Bernie Murdoch, MA
Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary

Anne McCain Brown M.A.R.
Author, The Supremacy of God in Children's Ministry

Mary DeFusco, Esq.
Defender Association of Philadelphia

Nancy Koppelman, J.D. PhD
Nonprofit Professional and Advocate

Sr. Betty Scanlon, RSM
Executive Director
Visitation Community Center

Peter Schiesser, CPCU
Surety Bond Underwriter

Rev. John Edward Deegan, O.S.A
Order of St. Augustine
Executive Director and Chairman.
Board of Directors of ADROP
(Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor)

Mary F. Morrison, MD, MS
Temple University
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
Vice Chair for Research, Psychiatry

Mary Ellen Balchunis, Ph.D. LaSalle University
Assistant Professor, Political Science

Deborah J. Wojno, MS
Fund Development Consultant

Shea M. Rhodes, Esq.
Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation


In the early 1990's, people engaged in human services across the world were encountering and becoming increasingly concerned about what they believed to be a growing reality, i.e., human trafficking. The U.S. government response led to the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. In 2004, a coalition of members from various Catholic religious communities sponsored a conference in Philadelphia on human trafficking. Over 200 representatives from local social service and criminal justice agencies were present. As a result of this conference the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition was formed by Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

During the early days of this Coalition, Sr. Teresita Hinnegan MMS, a member of the Catholic Coalition and Mary DeFusco, Esq. of the Philadelphia Public Defenders Office, started discussing the feasibility of providing a residential program for women who have been trafficked for commercial sex work, both international and domestic.  Enormous effort was invested into raising awareness about trafficking, but none of the 20 organizations involved in the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition provided a residential program where women could have long-term healing and rehabilitative services that were specifically related to having been exploited for commercial sex work.

Sr. Teresita and Mary were joined by Sisters Terry Shields MSHR, Kathleen Coll SSJ, and Marissa Bluestin ,Esq. to found  Dawn's Place in Philadelphia in 2007, as a non-profit organization and residential program. It was named in honor of a prostituted woman who was murdered in Camden, New Jersey. Our name was created from the hope of a new day 'dawning' for women who have been victimized for Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Shortly after that, the Dawn's Place Board was formed. This search coincided with the closing of a residence for women in Philadelphia. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd had worked for over 100 years to help women who had been victims of abuse and other misfortunes. Unable to continue this ministry, the Sisters were happy to donate the house to be used for a residential program for trafficked and commercially exploited women.

Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll, LLP law firm provided pro bono legal services.Other resources were donated to rehabilitate the house to meet code standards and create an attractive, comfortable home for women where they could receive therapeutic and other services, restore their dignity and prepare to return as productive members to society. Congregations of Religious Women have been an enormous resource, both through financial donations and many hours of volunteer service at the residence.  Referrals of women come from a variety of sources including: Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), The Department of State and the FBI for international women. Domestic women are referred through the criminal justice system,  self-referral or through other human service agencies.


Dawn's Place is an old, yet elegant house, and like many old houses had a spacious, dark, dank basement with many cubby holes. It would have served well for a haunted house experience for Halloween. It also had multiple escape routes that wasted space and allowed precious heat to escape in the winter. A grant was received to renovate the basement and we now have a comfortable dry space made into two offices, a meeting area, and adequate closets and cupboards for storage. There is an entrance from the outside so that people from the community can enter without having to go through the residence. This will facilitate services to former residents and women from the community who may in the future avail themselves of non-residential programs.

First Logo:

old logo - Dawn's place

The original logo for Dawn's Place  was designed by 
Donna Korba IHM and represents open arms welcoming residents to a safe place of light, hope and a new path.

P.O.Box 48253
PA, 19144
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- Human Trafficking: The Shocking
Reality of Modern-Day Slavery.


National Hot Line for reporting and getting HELP - 123 123 1234

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