Bozeman native uses Nashville success as platform to benefit human trafficking survivors

Country Billboard-charting artist Stephanie Quayle is returning to her home state of Montana, and raising funds for a new safe house for human trafficking victims.

Quayle is releasing new music this year and about to start touring again. The Bozeman native has been recording in Nashville for 10 years and has performed at the Grand Ole Opry eight times.

On June 11, she'll be preforming to raise money for a new safe house the Lifeguard Group is building at an undisclosed location in the Bitterroot Valley, for victims getting out of the world of human trafficking.

"This is happening in our home state of Montana," Quayle said. "I'm a Montanan; born and raised. This is about all of our kids and having that awareness to keep our eyes and ears open. Lowell touches on so many things; not just the safe house, but helping missing persons and missing kids; being an active member of our community that is so extensive."

The Lifeguard Group nonprofit is halfway to its goal and hopes to open 15 beds in September.

"Victims don't leave the life of human trafficking because they have nowhere else to go," Lowell Hochhalter of the Lifeguard Group said. "Survivors who have walked out of the life and come back in have had nowhere to go. They say they were looking for ways to get out but there was nothing for them. They said, 'There was no therapy. There was no counselling. There was no safe place for us to go.'"

The group says more than 2 million victims are forced into a life of sex and labor trafficking across the country.

"Our doors will be open to any and all," Hochhalter said. "To be honest with you Heidi, if we were to open right now, we would be full. As soon as the word went out that we had purchased the property, the calls started coming in from as far away as Key West, Florida and California for placement. We have enough here in Montana, a survivor group we work with, We could be full with just Montana women tomorrow."

Quayle will perform to a group of 250 ticketholders at the "Taste of Freedom" event.

"One of the songs I love to play, because it's such a song of perseverance, is called Evel Knievel," Quayle said. "Obviously, he was from Butte, Montana. That song has done a lot of hearts a lot of good. I was one of the writers on it. Of course I'll play Whatcha Drinkin 'Bout and Selfish. Those are my two songs that went up the country billboard charts."

The Taste of Freedom fundraiser takes place Friday, June 11 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 2036 US Highway 93 in Victor, at Montana Custom Log Homes. The group is selling 250 tickets. 50 will be VIP tickets that will include a visit with Quayle. To purchase tickets visit the Lifeguard Group on Facebook.