In the heart of the South Sound, one bridal boutique is devoted to making a difference in our community by helping put an end to human trafficking. Adorned in Grace opened its doors in June 2018, allowing locals to shop with a purpose.

“Human trafficking is as close as our backyard,” Christine Gilge, founder of Adorned in Grace tells us.

Adorned in Grace is a nonprofit bridal boutique that sells high quality donated wedding gowns and dresses for special occasions at affordable prices. Each dress that the shop sells contributes to their mission of bringing the community together to help fight the sexual exploitation of girls and women in the South Sound through awareness, prevention and survivor support.

Adorned in Grace Tacoma
Christine Gilge and Trish Otterholt of Adorned in Grace are dedicated to spreading hope for human trafficking survivors in the Puget Sound. Photo credit: Gabriella Kinner

The shop is managed by volunteers and nearly all of the profits from dress sales are put directly towards making a difference, including funding outreach programs and life classes for survivors of human trafficking, giving them a chance to heal and begin again. In the beginning, Christine found herself knocking on doors introducing her organization and mission with members of her community. Little did she know that one of those doors would lead her to a local real estate agent who had just returned from a trip to India, where he had seen young women and children subjected to human trafficking. Inspired by Christine’s vision, he later presented her the key to a completely donated storefront space in Tacoma where Adorned in Grace could operate and help give back to women in need.

But the donations didn’t stop there, members from all over the community came together in support of the nonprofit’s mission. From their contractor, electricians and flooring company, to a donation of 300 dresses from a local bridal store, Adorned in Grace was completely transformed into a beautiful bridal boutique by a community who cares.

Outside of the boutique, Christine’s husband Dr. Kevin Gilge of Solutions Dental, graciously donated the downstairs space in his dental practice for Adorned in Grace to use as their ministry office. This is where the organization’s outreach programs are facilitated, helping provide women with basic life skills ranging from cooking to creative expression.

Bridal Dress
Each dress at Adorned in Grace is donated, in pristine quality, and costs under $500. Photo courtesy: Adorned in Grace

“Many of our women that are fleeing domestic violence situations have left their family. They have no friends. No support group,” Christine explains. “Some of the women haven’t been out of their home in years because of PTSD or depression. So we exist at Adorned in Grace on Center and Union as their support group and a safe place.”

The Washington State Patrol, FBI, foster care system, and community members concerned for at-risk youth in the Puget Sound refer women to Adorned in Grace, seeking to get them the help they need. Survivors get to participate in therapeutic art classes, cooking classes, discussions with other survivors, bible study and lay counseling, as well as exercise classes lead by Figures. Solutions Dental has also committed to helping fight human trafficking by training these women to become dental assistants, free of charge, and allowing them to receive a paying job after 14 to 16 weeks of training.

“I think whether it’s with the painting or the cooking classes, to many of us, that is what we might consider as ‘normal activities,’ but to survivors these activities are completely new to them,” Trish Otterholt of Adorned in Grace tells us. “Normal to them was what their life was like when every part of their life was being controlled by another person. These programs are teaching them how to have a happier and healthier lifestyle.”

Adorned in Grace
13% of all profits go towards prevention, 31% to victim support, 20% to awareness, and 32% to shop expenses. Photo credit: Gabriella Kinner

But the work for Adorned in Grace doesn’t stop there. The organization has brought their program Power Over Predators into local schools in order to help educate the public, and specifically children, on what to be aware of in your community. This spring the non-profit is also partnering with The Princess Project and Rollin’ 253 to provide 50 to 75 at-risk girls with a prom night to remember. Each girl will be given a beautiful prom dress from their boutique, as well as have their hair and makeup done by a team of professionals. Rollin’ 253 will convert their roller rink into a dance floor, so the girls can enjoy an evening of dancing and dinner, while having the chance to connect with mentors, and get signed up for after school activities and programs with Adorned in Grace.

Adorned in Grace is committed to making a difference for women across the Puget Sound, helping get them off the streets and compassionately guiding them into a healthier way of life. Ways to get involved with Adorned in Grace to help fight human trafficking in our region is as easy as donating dresses to their boutique or stopping in to shop with a purpose for your next special occasion dress or bridal gown.

To learn more about the work Adorned in Grace is doing, please visit their website and Facebook page. Adorned in Grace Bridal Boutique is located at 10310 South Tacoma Way in Lakewood, and Adorned in Grace Ministry Office and Solutions Dental is located at 3104 South Union Avenue in Tacoma.

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