During an early morning in Decatur, a family is loading up for a road trip that will be life changing.
The mother in crisis, said she’s escaping her abuser who just got out of prison.
“He got released to a half-way house and he’s continuously stalked us from there,” the woman, who we were asked not to name, said. “He’s had our utilities cut off, our phones cut off, and so we’re just trying to get somewhere safe.”
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Driving them to their safe place is a volunteer with the non-profit Families to Freedom.
It was created by Sarah Nejdl and it offers long-distance transportation for people who say they are trapped because of domestic violence.
The idea started in the air, with Sarah getting her pilot’s license.
“My husband put the idea in front of me and I said, ‘you need a co-pilot!’ and I just jumped at the idea,” Sarah said.
Once trained, the two bought a plane, which Sarah wanted to use to help domestic violence victims.
“When I found out that not everybody is able to get to shelter or get to safety, it just was a natural fit in my head,” Sarah said. “I’ve got an airplane, and I love being around women and helping them out so, ‘hop in let’s go, let’s get you to family or get you to shelter somewhere else.’”
So far, Sarah’s flown four victims to safety, without the limitations and expense of commercial airline flights.
“She’s relocating with everything that she owns and to fit that into one or two suitcases is such a daunting task,” Sarah said.
But the true growth of her organization has happened on the ground.
Sarah now has 67 active volunteers who have transported more than 700 victims, both male and female.
No one in the organization gets paid for their work, not even Sarah.
“What I get out of this is gratitude, knowing that the services that I’ve created, that Families to Freedom is doing, have helped so many women and children, so, so many lives,” Sarah said. "I don't even want to think about what it would be like if we weren't here. We've talked to women who said, ‘he finds me everywhere I go and I can't stay here.’ We’ve talk to women who said, ‘I can't be on the streets and nobody can take us because the shelters are all filled up.’ We've talk to women who’ve said, ‘My family wants to take me in and take care of me and I need to be there and I have no way to get there.’ Without us I do not know what they would do.”
Sarah said that’s why they try to help as many victims as they can.
They even get calls from victims who live out of state and are in need of help. Sarah said one day she hopes to expand this North Texas organization to help them too.
Or even better, their services wouldn’t be needed because domestic abuse won’t be happening.
“I’m so glad that we are available for the callers who need us, that we are a solution, but at the same time, it’s unfortunate that so many people are stuck and do need the help,” Sarah said.
If you would like to help Families to Freedom, Sarah said they need more volunteer drivers, and financial help to pay for gas and vehicle support.