DETROIT (WWJ) – A local group is playing Santa this weekend, but you might be surprised to hear who’s on the receiving end.
Laura Urenda and other volunteers from My Sister Song, a support group for women in the sex industry in the metro Detroit area, will visit 20 strip clubs on Saturday night to deliver 500 “bags of hope and love” to dancers.
“We go into the clubs with little gifts for the girls,” Urenda told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “We’ll have Christmas candy and some earrings and just some fun, girly things.”
Urenda, a former dance club hostess, said life as a stripper is no picnic. She said contrary to popular image, most dancers are not leading happy lives.
“When you’re looking at a girl up there dancing and it looks like it’s a great big party, you don’t know the whole story. You don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes,” she said.
Behind closed doors, Urenda said rape, assault and substance abuse are often prevalent.
“We’ve all done things that weren’t the best choice and we’ve all been hurt in ways that we haven’t deserved,” she said.
Urenda said the whole point of delivering the Christmas gifts is to let the dancers know that someone cares.
“We want those care packages, when they open them up, to be just an explosion of love,” she said. “Sometimes, we’ll watch them right there at the club, opening up the gifts and they’ll read their love not and just start to cry. So, overall, we’re received really, really well by the girls.”
Urenda said it’s not her intention to get girls to stop working at the clubs, she’s just giving support to those who are deciding whether or not to leave. She said the gifts contain a note with contact information for counseling, mentoring and educational services that can help the dancers create a better life.
“Some of these girls were literally raised in the sex industry, and we’ve even worked with mother-daughter teams,” she said.
The Christmas outreach is the fourth My Sister Song has conducted this year. Previous deliveries took place in conjunction with Valentine’s Day, Easter and the Fourth of July, each of which resulted in some dancers eventually deciding to leave the industry.