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A Season for Change

Couple Starts Autumn Hope To Help Child Trafficking Victims

Article by Amanda Thomas

Photography by Provided by Autumn Hope

Originally published in River Oaks Lifestyle

Four years ago, Michael Marrs stumbled upon a newspaper article that caused his stomach to drop. 

The headline was shocking for sure, but it was the mugshot of the person staring back at him that made him nauseous. It was the picture of an acquaintance he had coffee with just a week before. 

The person had been arrested for online solicitation. What’s even more unsettling is that this man, who Michael thought was a normal guy, turned out to be a predator hiding in plain sight. 

“I feel as though I am a fair judge of character and would have never, in my wildest dreams, thought of him as participating in something as grotesque as this,” he says. 

This hit close to home for 47-year-old Michael and his wife, Shannon, not only because it happened in Texas, where they live but also because they have children of their own. 

“Child sex trafficking is not a fun topic,” he says. “It’s horrible, depressing and scary. So, I think our natural reaction is to ignore it. But the more you educate yourself, the more you’ll want to become involved.”

No longer wanting to stand on the sidelines, he and Shannon — who are Christians — began tithing to child trafficking organizations. But it wasn’t long before the couple decided they wanted to do more. 

The Marrs started to look into what happens to children after being rescued. While some are placed in foster care, many don’t have a bed to sleep in because there aren’t enough facilities to house them.

“This means they will not receive the treatment they need and will most likely end up back in the trafficking life or dead,” Mike says. 

So in 2020, they founded a nonprofit called Autumn Hope and started the process of opening a residential treatment center for 8 to 12-year-old girls who are victims of child trafficking. In addition to housing, the center will provide therapy and other services to help them heal from their trauma. 

The licensing process could take anywhere from one to three years. But no matter how long it takes, the Marrs are committed to opening the facility and helping as many girls as possible. 

When asked why he’s doing this, Mike simply says he has to.

“It’s not an option not to because I know too much,” he says. “I couldn’t live with myself if I just sat back and not tried to do anything about it. God put us on this earth to make it better, so let’s do our part.” 

If you want to join the fight against child trafficking, here is how you can help. 


Autumn Hope is accepting monetary donations to help fund the opening of a residential treatment center. The nonprofit is also accepting donations of children’s clothing and furniture. To donate or find out how you can help, visit or email

  • Michael and Shannon Marrs - Founders of Autumn Hope