MISSOULA — The Lifeguard Group is a Missoula-based non-profit that fights Human Trafficking.
We had a chance to talk with the group's founder Lowell Hochhalter about their efforts and about a fundraiser set for Friday night in Victor.
“The Lifeguard Group is an organization that my wife and I started – it will be four years ago this summer. We’ve been working in the field of anti-human trafficking for the last 10 years. Six of those years we were working down in Las Vegas,” Hochhalter said.
“And we began to see that there wasn’t a lot of attention being paid to the rural communities of the United States. So, we saw a lot of recruitment of young girls and young boys and wom en out of those rural communities,” he continued. “So, we brought the Lifeguard Group -- I guess to reality to primarily address that issue.”
“It’s taking place here in Missoula and I know that’s hard maybe for people to hear that or believe that, but it is definitely taking place. You know, we are also in a community where our law enforcement is very well trained,” said Hochhalter who serves as a chaplain for the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.
“Both the sheriff and the chief of police, our sergeant of highway patrol and captain of [the] highway patrol here in this area have been very aggressive, very proactive in training their officers. So, that’s a big bonus for us.”
The fundraiser, called Taste of Freedom, a Distillery Showcase, is Friday night at Montana Custom Log Homes in Victor where Country music artist Stephanie Quayle will perform.
“It’s always a challenge raising funds and keeping things alive. You know, with the pandemic, people were out of work. But I can tell you...2020 was a great year for us. It was a year that we found a safehouse property and we’ve been renovating and remodeling that property,” Hochhalter told MTN News.
The fundraiser will take place at Bitterroot at Montana Custom Log Homes on US Highway 93 in Victor from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 for a meet and greet and $50 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased in advance.