A north Prior Lake shelter for children and young adults who have been sexually exploited or trafficked is raising money to buy its facility.

Passageways has raised about $120,000 out of the roughly $700,000 needed to buy its leased location because the owner is stepping away, said Beth Holger, CEO of The Link in Minneapolis.

Passageways is one of The Link’s regional programs and houses people between the ages of 12 and 24, mostly Minnesotans, in an eight-bed emergency shelter and five longer-term housing units.

“Every dollar, of course, helps,” Holger said. “It’s been a great building for the program. We’d also like to expand eventually, building on additional housing units in particular.”

The Link is applying for grants and reaching out to the state Legislature for assistance, Holger said. It also has a couple of fundraisers coming up: a bowling tournament at Apple Place Bowl in Apple Valley on Oct. 6 and the Founders Luncheon on Nov. 5 at Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

Tickets and more information about those and other ways to donate can be found at thelinkmn.org.

Passageways clients come by way of law enforcement or child protection services, school systems and other referrals, Holger said. Those in the emergency shelter typically stay a little more than a month, while those on the housing side often stay about a year. The program’s usually full, Holger added.

Sexual exploitation involves sex acts exchanged for something of value, such as money or rent; it becomes trafficking when a third party is involved and profits from the arrangement, Holger said.

On top of a place to stay, Passageways provides case management and therapy, schooling, group activities and mentorship, among other services.

The Shakopee-Prior Lake Shockwaves skiing team has chipped in about $300 for the fundraising effort so far, Passageways board member Maia Caldwell said last week.

Shockwaves President Tim Fitzgibbons said proceeds from Thursday nights’ “chuck a duck” game, normally a fundraiser for the team, have gone to Passageways instead in recent weeks. He said he was proud to help a great organization.

Community editor

Dan Holtmeyer is the community editor for the Prior Lake and Savage papers. He grew up in Nebraska and worked as a journalist in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas before coming to Minnesota in 2018.

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