Cassie’s interest in working with youth began in Mrs. Retzlaff’s Child Services class at Tualatin High School. She later graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human, Development and Family Science with minors in psychology and sociology. Following graduation she had the privilege of working in a residential treatment center for children who had faced abuse and neglect. This work led her to seek additional education in order to better serve the youth she planned to work with. Through the University of Denver she received her Masters in Social Work with a focus in clinical practice. Cassie practiced as a Child and Family Therapist in an intensive outpatient treatment program during which time she became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Oregon. It was during this time in community practice that she became aware of commercial sexual exploitation of children and the reality that she lives in one of areas with the highest rate of domestic sex trafficking. Cassie continued her formal education with the achievement of a nursing degree through Oregon Health and Science University while continuing her work with victims and survivors. It was the overwhelming realization that there are inadequate resources as well as a lack of education within our community that led Cassie to join Austin in the formation of this agency.
Austin is a graduate of Pacific University Oregon with a Masters of Science and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. While Austin worked on her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Portland State University, she began her work with at-risk youth through the Juvenile Justice System teaching girl empowerment to adjudicated youth. Her post graduate work was in psychiatric residential where she first discovered the unidentified youth who circuited the residential system as runaway youth, unidentified for their experiences of being sexually exploited. After a couple years working in the failing system, Austin returned to seek further knowledge and understanding of the mental health of children and adults. Throughout her doctoral program she worked with youth in outpatient, day treatment, and residential treatment. She has sought out specialized training in working with commercially sexually exploited youth. In recent years, Austin has worked with sexually exploited and trafficked youth through a local mental health agency. She started specifically in crisis response for youth and worked as a community mental health therapist working with the complexities presented by the CSEC population. She has joined closely with the community partners that are collaborating to serve these youth in order to meet their needs. Austin is also working to develop further interventions that are effective in assisting these youth and enhancing the existing means available. It is recognized that successfully enhancing and nourishing the lives of children who have been sexually exploited is a work in progress and the community is in need of growth and understanding when it comes to serving the children impacted by sexual exploitation.
Cassie and Austin have been friends and colleagues for years. They discovered their purpose and passion to end commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking as they progressed through their education and experience in the mental health field. They joined together to seek out understanding through trainings and the developing research on child sex trafficking and exploitation as they witnessed the immense need in the community to support the local youth impacted by this devastating crime. Throughout their time working in the field they shared a vision to provide the community and youth with an opportunity for healing and reformation. As they responded to the overwhelming need, A Village for One was born. Together they share a vision of calling on their community partners in a significant effort to end the pain and devastation inflicted on our youth through the commercial sexual exploitation of children.