Living in Liberty

Living in Liberty restores dignity, freedom, and a new life to victims of commercial sexual exploitation by creating a safe, secure, loving, and nurturing community where healing occurs and a new life begins.

Living in Liberty (LIL) was started in 2012 by Elizabeth Echevarria. After a missionary from India visited her church and spoke about the prevalence of human trafficking in their country, she was inspired to serve women exiting a life of sex trafficking. After realizing that she could not just uproot her family from their home in Pittsburgh and take them to India to help victims of human trafficking, Elizabeth began to look within her home area. She was shocked to learn about the high volume of human trafficking victims just within the Pittsburgh area. She then attended ministry school and found out that there was a need for care services for these women. She took the first step to creating Living in Liberty by purchasing a home that has now come to house women who have been restored to freedom and independence.

Living in Liberty has street outreach to women in Wilkinsburg, Homewood, the North Side, Strip District, and Butler. They also have an online outreach in the Pittsburgh region to women who are being trafficked online. Living in Liberty reaches out to them via text message to let them know that help is available - many of them are incredulous to hear of their work, that someone actually cares. Living in Liberty seeks to build relationships with them so that when they are ready to start new lives they know to whom they can turn. Living in Liberty has a safe house that they can come to for up to a year where they can receive medical care, counseling, and job and life skill training, with the ultimate goal of independent living. Another branch of Living in Liberty is Awareness and Prevention. This branch reaches out to schools, groups, churches, etc. to educate about this heinous crime with the hope of preventing others from falling victim, and to seek volunteers and support.

A Growing Impact

In 2018, Living in Liberty’s Awareness and Prevention Team made 44 presentations during the fiscal year, tripling the number of people who are now educated about sex trafficking.

Living in Liberty’s outreach team opened a Care Center in 2016 in the Strip District.

The Homewood Care Center continues to provide weekly care during the fiscal year. A total of 55 women in 2018 from the Homewood community received some or all of the services provided.

In 2018, 400 hygiene bags were distributed to women and others on the streets who were in need.

To read more, visit:

Different ways to donate and volunteer

Living in Liberty is primarily supported by their Repurposed thrift store on McKnight Road, just south of The Block at Northway, on the same side. They receive donations of household goods, clothing, shoes, toys, craft supplies, books, DVDs, purses, jewelry, sporting goods, and furniture. Proceeds directly help support women being trafficked!

Volunteers are needed:

- At the store to sort items and put clothing on hangers, serve at the cash register, etc. Teens are welcome to serve here as well!

- In outreach (particularly the North Side),

- At the safe home (to drive women to appointments, to spend time with them at the home)

- To prepare meals, ideally for groups of around 40 people. Frozen meals can be dropped off at the Repurposed store. They are reheated and served at one of the outreach centers or the safe home later. Recipe suggestions can be found at:

Living in Liberty offers volunteer training once a month. The next training will be Saturday, November 6, at 10:30am at the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills on Thompson Run Road.

Here is a link to the volunteer application:

Prayer meetings are also held each Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. Please reach out for more information! 

The REality of Human Trafficking

The world’s second largest illegal market .  

Human Trafficking Statistics

The International Labor Organization estimates it is $150 billion business worldwide

40.3 million victims worldwide

71% of victims are female

25% of victims are children

Average age of recruitment for girls is 12-13 years

The youth are at highest risk- this includes the homeless, runaways, ethnic minorities, unaccompanied foreign nationals, and rural youth

Victims of human trafficking often do not see themselves as a victim and may refuse help when offered. They may even express loyalty and affection toward their trafficker, which is a result of trauma bonding. Many of them do not realize what has been done to them is illegal. Survivors usually have substance abuse problems and a history of sexual abuse or other trauma prior to becoming a human trafficking victim. The most common causes of death of these victims are homicide, suicide, drug overdose, and HIV.

06/20/2020 Update

Financial support is especially important, as we currently have the real need to hire staff to effectively minister to the growing number of women we are reaching both through our street ministry and our safe home. At the same time, our primary source of income, the Repurposed Thrift Store, had to be closed due to the virus until just recently. We are busy with grant writing, but would also like to offer the opportunity for churches/individuals/groups to support our staff, much like they may support missionaries.

Another constant need is meals for our drop in centers during outreach. We normally prepare for about 30-40, and ask that dishes be made in disposable containers, and are able to be frozen. We have recipe ideas available if that is something an individual or group would be interested in. We have a few groups that regularly have "parties" to make the dishes. They are then dropped off at the Repurposed Store where they are kept in a freezer until needed by an outreach team. 

As you can imagine, the Repurposed Store has been short of volunteers since reopening. Many of our volunteers are older, and understandably do not feel comfortable coming back in yet. If you could let your congregation know about this, it would be a huge help. Even if they can only help temporarily it will make a difference. Our website has more information about how to volunteer for the store, and other areas, and you could direct them there. We are currently working on an on-line training, and will probably be doing a "socially-distant" in-person training in the next couple of months.

Another area we are trying to expand is our awareness and prevention efforts. We have a team that goes out (wherever we get invited!) to speak about trafficking and the efforts of Living in Liberty. We have a variety of programs to fit various settings, including talking to teens, kids, and parents about prevention. With the increased use of technology during COVID, we are seeing traffickers increase their online appeal to children and teens. We would like to help parents have the resources to protect their children.

We thank you for your prayers, and would ask you to please ask for wisdom and creativity as we make plans for the future. Staffing our safe house, and developing a more intentional training program for women in the program to work in our store are two other major issues. Would you please pray for our volunteers and the women we serve, especially the women we serve through the outreach? They have been doubly burdened by the effects of this virus.