Don’t Judge Someone Until you have walked a mile in their shoes… Unknown


3 years ago I created an art exhibit called "A walk in Her Shoes"... 

Inspired by a single shoe that got packed away many many years ago from my days as a “dancer in the industry"

 If you don't know my story well you probably don't know what I mean…. My whole life I dreamed of going to LA and making it in the music business, and at 19 I finally took the leap and came to LA. My second day in Hollywood I was sold by someone I trusted to help me settle in!

No one knew me here and no one knew where I was, so yes, it can happen... someone sold me to a drug dealer for an eight ball of cocaine. For 3 months I lived in fear and was afraid to leave the house. To get away from him, I went to work as a dancer in a bikini bar to make some quick money. I became heavily addicted to drugs to numb the pain and hopelessness I felt.  The pit I was in grew deeper and my dept got bigger so I went to work in xxx strip clubs to attempt to make more money. While there I fell into a relationship with a guy,  I didn’t know was a Pimp.

I managed to get a few jobs in the movies as a choreographer and as a body double. But my drug addiction was like quicksand, and I couldn't get away from it. 

 I made a friend and began working with her, as an escort. She was a madam and the clientele she introduced me to were "Hollywood’s Elite and Rock legends". 

But this was not how I wanted to “make it”.

Life in the fast lane was wild but it came to a crashing halt when I was arrested for car theft and drug possession and put in Sybil Brand a women's prison.

It was 10 years before I was able to escape such a very dark lifestyle of exploitation in the commercial sex exploitation.

But back to the shoes… 

I have always loved shoes and I've often said: "if these shoes could talk"...

After getting out of the industry I had disposed of most of the evidence of my past in that industry except for this one pair of shoes.

I kept them because they weren't typical stilettos. They were funkier. A little retro and a little before there time. They had a European heel (chunkier) and with a slight platform and they were white.

I loved those shoes and thought why not hang onto them? I can still wear them. So I kept them even after quitting the business.

Eventually one of the shoes apparently had disappeared who knows where and at what point they were separated…

 but I can tell you that the last appearance of the pair together was seen on September 25th, 1994. A most memorable and life-changing day!

 Accompanied by a knee length wedding dress with poofy sleeves. 

The dress was the “something borrowed”. In fact, the shoes were all I owned.  

The night before they would make their final debut, I cleaned them up and tried to erase all scuffs from being tossed around in dressing rooms and dirty stages.

The next time I would put them on I wouldn't be wearing them on a stage in a smoke-filled room, late at night. This time the shoes would walk down a different aisle, and instead of entertaining the masses I would be walking toward only one. The one.

The morning came and My whole life was about to change! 

At the church, I got ready and put on the shoes for the last time. All of a sudden it felt like those shoes weighed a ton! I could barely lift my feet off the ground!

  Standing there at the back of the church waiting, so many emotions flooded my heart. The sadness and shame of being fatherless standing alone became overwhelming. 

…I always wondered what this day was going to feel like.

These are the moments when a girl looks for the man next to her to tell her she's beautiful and he's so proud of her. But that wasn't going to be my story. There was no one waiting to walk me down the aisle. 

So here I was, alone and these shoes that I had danced in, were now so heavy, and I felt paralyzed to move. The wedding march was playing but I couldn't move. I looked down at my shoes… scenes of my past flashed and I began to cry.

I didn't know what to do, Suddenly I felt a hand grab mine. I looked up and there he was. My groom came to get me. He would take it from here. I wouldn't have to walk alone anymore. I leaned into him and together we walked down the aisle.   

A few months later the shoes were thrown in a box and forgotten about. 

Until many years later. We had just moved, I was unpacking boxes, and there it was.  A lone white shoe. I had no idea cleaning and unpacking boxes that day I would come across it.

Wow! I didn't even know it was lost until it was found! 

That shoe represents so many memories, so many decisions, loneliness, AND redemption. 

What a “blast from the past” 

Unpacking that box opened up a door that would lead me to begin another big journey! A journey of  “Unpacking” a great many things about my past and my story that had been hidden, buried deep inside. It is a story that needed to be told, processed, and even honored!

I have met many women like me, who have such a history of untold past abuse & shame and their stories are stories of strength, courage, and redemption and also need to be told!

I created A WALK IN HER SHOES as a tribute to these brave liberators who are helping others to and showing them the way to freedom!

Each shoe in this exhibit is a story of a survivor.  Stories of women who were sexually abused as children, that led them on a long road. These are Victims of Human Trafficking and have suffered exploitation and trauma thru various forms in the commercial sex industry. 

A WALK IN HER SHOES consists of 14 shoes placed on 14 podiums. Through headphones you will hear the 3 min story told by the survivor while seeing her shoe. (Also translated in Spanish)

If you would like to know more or how to book this exhibit please contact

The exhibit has been shown at various locations opening with The Cherished Gala, “A Walk In Her Shoes,”  (see photo) The Mexican Consulate, LBGTQ Youth Center, Newport Library and many more to come.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou

Goodbye 2017, Hello New Beginnings

Written by a Cherished Resident...

I don’t know about you but I am ready for the new year and all; the changes it may
bring (GOD Willing). I suggest we all thank GOD for the year of 2017, for all the trails we
endured, all the lessons that were learned and all the triumphs that we earned. Let us
end this year with genuine thanksgiving to the LORD and start 2018 with anticipation,
excitement and joy for what our Heavenly Father has in store for us.

A fellow survivor here at Cherished has been contemplating and discussing with me
she feels/thinks about how the new year will be for her. Every time she does so she is
smiling, her face is glowing and she is over-joyed while she tells me she knows this
year will bring change for her. It is obvious that she is more then excited for the things
GOD has in store for her.

To be honest, for the last couple of weeks I have been trying not to think about what
the year of 2018 will look like for me in my own life. I’ve never handled endings well
and I am just as bad at beginnings. Endings for me usually brought about sadness or
disappointment and beginnings brought about fear. I know I am not alone in this way of
thinking . Just yesterday another young lady here at Cherished shared a similar feeling
about endings and beginnings, expressing how difficult it is for her to start things
when it is just going to end or how pointless it is to say hello when one day you will be
saying goodbye.

Kate had asked us all yesterday how we felt and handled endings and beginnings.
After hearing this young lady express something that was so sad and familiar to me, I
suggested we end this year with thanks and start the next year with excitement
because let’s be honest Church, our time is precious down here in this world and we
shouldn’t waste it with a fearful spirit or any other spirit that is not of GOD. We weren’t
made like that.

I have a suggestion (maybe even a challenge) for those here at Cherished, those of
you reading this and everyone else in the world. Ask yourself (and each other) “What
will the New Year be for You?”. I pray that you do not define 2018 by your past upsets,
failures, hurts, addictions, etc but that you will claim each and every one of GOD’s
promises he made to you. Not just for the next year but for all the days of your life.
Remember, HE created us Victorious and not with a spirit of fear but with a spirit of
power, love and a sound mind. May we begin 2018 exclaiming and proclaiming the
name of Jesus and end it with amazing and awesome news in what he has done for us.


“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting GOD, the Creator of the ends of the earth. HE will not grow tired of the weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”
-Isaiah 40:28-31

Craving Safety


Written by a Cherished Resident...

A volunteer here at Cherished was talking to me in the car this morning about the recent fires here in California. She informed me that 25 horses had died in the wildfire because those left in charge were unsure of what to do. Since they did not own the horses they may have felt they did not have the authority to make any decisions on the proper way to deal with them. The possibility of being sued or fired seemed to cause the stablemen to become “paralyzed by the indecision” she also shared with me the lack of leadership may have affected their inability to make a quick decision. 

     By the time the stablemen came to free the horses it was too late, the barn was on fire. They unlocked the stalls and the horses ran out only to return to the barn shortly after, and back into their stalls. The fire had surrounded them outside undoubtedly caused them so much anxiety, confusion and fear

the horses resorted to the only place they’ve always known and felt most comfortable, their “safety zone’ even though it was engulfed in flames. 

     After telling that story she pointed out to me that many people have that same type of behavior pattern. A person may be so used to their environment and life style, no matter how unhealthy or dangerous it may be. That when given the opportunity for something better or offered a safer alternative, they panic and become fearful because it is so unknown to them and they’ll return back to where they have been. Where it is comfortable and familiar, even though by doing so they are risking their lives, their safety, their well being. 

    Some may think that these horses lacked intelligence or that people who display this type of behavior pattern are stupid, but the reality is we are creatures of habit. We tend to reject the familiar and fear the unknown, so we stick to what we know… how sad this can be when all someone knows is destructive, unsafe, harmful, painful, etc.

     There are so many women (children and men) in “the life” who are desperately craving safety and security and are wanting something better than a life of bondage that the sex industry offers. Wanting freedom from it all, the life, their pimps, their abusers.…but the idea of their life and future is such an unfamiliar territory. The spirit of fear grips them causing them to return or never leave at all.  

    Church, we much show and teach those who do not know that this stronghold that binds so many can be broken and destroyed with the power of faith, hope, love and prayer, so that they can be set free, as God intended, so they may reach their full potential.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of courage. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” 

Joshua 1:9  

Changing Seasons - Fall Newsletter




Dear Friends of Cherished,

Just a few weeks ago, I was feeling a little sad that summer was coming to an end.  Then I went to Seattle for four days in September to begin my Counseling Certificate course at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.  I saw the leaves changing and felt the crisp air. That did it!  Bring on the pumpkin spice; I’m ready for fall.  Like the coming of fall, seasons are changing here at Cherished, and we welcome that too!


The Cherished Team with Tim and Becky, founders of Casa Liberdade.

The Cherished Team with Tim and Becky, founders of Casa Liberdade.

We’ve been on the move this year with awareness events and helping other organizations in the fight for women and children.  Most notably, a small team and I just returned from Sao Paulo, Brazil.  I trained the staff of Casa Liberdade, a home opening soon for children rescued from sex trafficking.  We shared our experience with aftercare, trauma, and art therapy.  We also spoke to churches and groups to share my story and raise awareness about the huge need that exists in Brazil. 

Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to donate $3000 to Casa Liberdade to help them rescue child victims of human trafficking in Brazil. We painted the children’s home inside and out.  Our team installed solar electric.  We also installed an aquaponics system for the children to grow a garden that will also supply fish.  


Adelyne helped painted the children's home.

Adelyne helped painted the children's home.

Connor & Adelyne with Becky & Tim after installing the aquaponics system.

Connor & Adelyne with Becky & Tim after installing the aquaponics system.

Connor and Eric installed solar panels. 

Connor and Eric installed solar panels. 

Our hearts are knit together with Tim and Becky and the work of their ministry.  The English language doesn’t have a word for how we feel toward our extended family in Brazil.  I can only say it in Portuguese, “saudade.

 Back home, much is going on. It has been amazing to watch girls come to Cherished and see the transformation that takes place over time.  I have to say it is with much hard work on their part!  We are so proud of our first resident to pass the one-year mark on this two-year journey! (We celebrated her accomplishment with gifts and a trip to Zuma Beach.)

 It is quite a feat to be able to commit to leave everything else behind! Sometimes our survivors must leave family, all past associations, social media and cell phones. They must completely surrender to start on an unknown journey. They put their life in our hands and yours hoping everything will come out okay. It is up to us to help them learn to trust again and to heal those broken wings so they can learn to soar.  We don't take that lightly.

 As of September, we have a FULL HOUSE!! Can you believe it? We have only been open one-year and five months and we are full!!! 

 God was serious when He said start this program! He wasn't and isn't playing around with it. They are His precious daughters, and He loves these girls more than we do! It is His plan for them to discover their value and find their purpose. And we commit to walking with them on this journey until they are in a stable enough place to begin a new life on their own. It is quite humbling and magnificent to see it all at the same time.

 Two Cherished survivors are going back to school right now.  They are working out their recovery and healing as they explore what their future could be. We celebrated when one of our students earned her first credit in Economics. We are so proud of them!

 We have also begun a waiting list to open up a second home. Our ability to do so depends on timely financial support of our partners. At this point, approximately 45% of Cherished’s expenses are covered by the Cherished Studio social enterprise.  It is our prayer and goal as we grow to become more self-sustaining with the sales of our products through stores and speaking engagements. We are working hard on our part to make this happen, but we need a little more help.

 We need you to help us cover the remainder of our expenses through partnerships.  Please consider becoming a monthly partner at $35, $50, or $100.  Pastors and elders, please prayerfully consider whether your church can become a monthly partner.

We attended two amazing events recently to spread the word about our mission and to sell our products.  In September, we attended Kid’s Charities Grace Fest.  Later in the month, we traveled to Newport Dunes for the Freedom Ride Finish Line Event where Kate shared her story. Dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking, the Freedom Ride is a 15-day bike ride from Oregon to Newport Dunes. Thank you to Beth Gegner and her team for inviting us to attend!


After a 15-day bike ride, the cyclists reach the Freedom Ride finish line.

After a 15-day bike ride, the cyclists reach the Freedom Ride finish line.

As I said, seasons are changing, and so it is for us.  We are happy to say that we have outgrown our current location!  Just imagine the Cherished survivors, staff, and interns all in one 20 x 20 space, working and doing school every day. It is crowded. So we have moved! Thanks to the generous help of a partner who caught the Cherished vision, we just moved into a bigger office space!

 We believe that nothing says value like knowing there are people in your corner cheering you on! So we want the workroom, therapy room, and school space for these girls to say, “You are worth it.” We’d love for you to partner with us in creating a beautiful space for them.  We are in need of the following new or gently used items:

  •  A small desk for our offices
  • Ÿ Two laptop computers
  • Ÿ ŸMicrowave oven, toaster oven
  • Ÿ Kitchen supplies (dishes, glasses, flatware)
  • Ÿ Small chairs for our kitchen table

If you prefer, we can do the shopping ourselves.  IKEA here we come. :)  To donate items, please call us at 661-214-3020. 

The new home of the Cherished Studio thanks to the support of a generous partner!

The new home of the Cherished Studio thanks to the support of a generous partner!

To our existing partners and volunteers, thank you so much for taking this journey with us. It has been challenging, but we will continue to show up!

 If you haven’t partnered with us yet, please consider becoming a monthly partner with us today. Let’s see what else God can do when we say yes!  You’re the piece that’s missing in our ministry!  To partner with us please click on our donate tab on this website, or mail a check to 2010 West Ave. K #448, Lancaster, CA 93536.

 In His Service,  


P.S.  Christmas is just around the corner!  We welcome Christmas gifts for our survivors, and for our annual outreach to women in local clubs and massage parlors.  Please feel free to contact our office for suggestions.

After the sex industry, breaking new ground

There has been so much more attention on trafficking recently and that is good for awareness, but more awareness for those of us doing the work doesn’t always equate action.

Often I am asked to speak and share my story or bring a more recent, younger survivor to share her story. I do believe that story is important and for a survivor to share openly, it is a part of the healing process… when they are ready. But with that brings a concern. I wonder how many stories we will need to hear to see the need to get involved? Exploitation comes in many forms. Where does it end?  When have we heard enough to move us to action? 

Healing is a very long process and it takes time to be in a healthy enough place to “go there.” It’s very important to understand what we are asking when we want a person to tell us about the pain they have been through.  The triggers and stressor are very present for a long time and can wreak havoc until the healing takes over.  Statistics show that for every 1 year in “the life’ it is a 5 year recovery. For me, we are talking 50 more to go! 

I was at the 15-year mark before I could get past the shame and begin to share. 
I’m going to be transparent with you now, 19 years after the sex industry. Every day I am on the journey to becoming healthier and I still have much work to do. There is something that I truly struggle with. I’d much rather laugh about it and move on, but I know that I can’t overcome it on my own, so I’m going to take a risk and share it with you. 

Here goes….

After being in the commercial sex industry for more than 10 years, money was easy to come by. I knew what to do and who to get it from. But, most of the time I was miserable and depressed and very lonely. The price I paid to live in that lifestyle was high… too high.  Although I experienced the instant gratification of making money, when I did get to keep it, I always knew that in the long run I was hurting, not only me, but someone else. 

Every time money was exchanged with a client, a piece of me died. The deal was sealed and I had to keep my end of the bargain.

So how does a girl who was forced into prostitution to survive, stuck in the quick sand of the sex industry for a decade, change her whole life over to helping those out of the same pit she was in? ONLY BY GOD! 

Through His leading, I started this NPO that solely survives on donations with no government funding. Of course, I understand that it’s the founder’s job to be the face of the organization and raise the money. Who else could? But honestly, when the next set of taxes are due or the insurance payment for the business that allows survivors to have a place to work comes, I freeze! 

SO I give my self the pep talk. Who else will be a voice for them? “It’s for a good reason, to save lives!” But when I am needed the most is when it happens, I become paralyzed.  The words “can you give us money” just feel dirty; even though I know in my heart they’re not. I still become paralyzed! 

I so appreciate those whom God has moved to partner with us without being asked. You’ll never know what a blessing you are to me! I am reminded of God’s mercy and He reminds me through you that He sees and provides.

I am not a coward, but I am afraid. How will I fulfill my promise to help survivors when I become paralyzed with fear when they need me the most?  

Pray for me! Pray for those that God is moving to give to be placed in my path so I can learn to ask. Pray for others to be moved without being asked! Pray for the Cherished bath and body product line to get more recognition – nationwide! Pray that we get into more stores, sell more jewelry, and have more opportunities to tell our story so that we can be more self-sustaining. Pray for speaking engagements to raise awareness so that we can help more girls find their purpose and lead healthy, productive lives. And lastly, pray for my family as we go to Brazil in a few weeks to train another organization that rescues children from traffickers. 

What I’m saying is that asking is hard. For me it is a trigger. But I also know how important it is. So here I go…

Cherished is in need. We have bills, upward of $4,000, that need to be paid ASAP for the program to stay in business. Please consider partnering with us by giving on a monthly basis. I am stretching out of my comfort zone; will you give out of yours?  We have so much to do and I KNOW we will get it done with YOU by our side! Thank you so much!

To partner click here.

Together In His Service! 
Kate Wedell



What does a real man look like?  Culture would have us believe he looks like an advertisement 

in a magazine or the hunk in the movie, but it’s not about the muscles, the toughness, the 

money or all the other stuff we are fed on a daily basis.  Please don’t believe these lies.  Let’s 

talk about the DNA of a real man.  

A real man is respectful.  He doesn’t talk poorly about other people.  

A real man is not the guy who hangs with the boys at the bars or clubs – a player if you will – 

leading women on.  

A real man knows how to honor others, especially if he is married.  That honor includes how he 

treats his wife, along with his friends.

A real man works hard.  He doesn’t slack.  He provides for his family.

A real man is pure.  He doesn’t take advantage of women, doesn’t lead them on, and keeps his 

relationships pure.  

A real man leads his home well.  He doesn’t fly off the handle in an argument and doesn’t allow 

anything, especially hobbies to get in front of his marriage and family.  

A real man finds his strength in God.  He is a godly man.  He doesn’t come across as arrogant.  

He knows he has weakness, but trusts God to help him become the man God designed him to 


A real man isn’t jealous of others.  He has the ability to celebrate the successes of others.

A real man is honest and transparent.  He doesn’t do things in secret that he wouldn’t do in 

front of others.

Being a real man is not about outward appearance.  It is a heart decision to trust God and be 

right with Him, and in his relationships with others.