Along with nearly everyone in the world, our work and home lives were thrown into chaos the moment our city issued a Shelter-in-Place order last month in response to the Global COVID-19 pandemic. Immediately, our thoughts and prayers were with everyone who was affected by the novel coronavirus. It’s safe to say that it is an unprecedented tragedy; one that cruelly targets vulnerable populations.
While we were fortunate to be healthy, our reality was altered significantly. Learning how to work remotely while homeschooling your kids at the same time is simultaneously all of the above: challenging, frustrating and overwhelming!
Yet, the five of us on staff at Central Valley Justice Coalition also recognize that, even in the midst of this storm, we are blessed to have the continued opportunity to do this vital work. During this time of massive economic uncertainty, it is not an exaggeration to say that we feel like we have been thrown a lifeline every time we receive a donation in the mail.
As people of faith, it appears that God is telling us to not become discouraged as we fight against human trafficking and exploitation. Galatians 6:9 reminds us “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)”
We will not give up! As an organization, we have been moving in the direction of offering more resources online but this current reality has forced us to immediately rethink how we are delivering our lifesaving information to people who desperately need it. And the reality is: vulnerable people will be targeted for exploitation not just in spite of this crisis but because of it.
In response to this global pandemic, we are retooling nearly everything we do to better follow our mission of preventing human trafficking through education, partnership and outreach. One of our key metrics for our work is “people educated in face-to-face events.” In over 9 years of service to our community, I can tell you how many people we’ve reached; it’s over 37,000 individuals. Now, with every gathering canceled for the foreseeable future, how will we continue to pursue our prevention education goals?
As we work remotely during this time, we have been able to continue assisting survivors of trafficking with financial and mentoring support as well as continue to offer classes. We just launched an online course (nearly six months in the making) through a partnership with Fresno Pacific University’s Center for Online Learning called Understanding Human Trafficking. Even during the last three difficult weeks, in three different sessions, we have managed to educate nearly 100 people online using the ZOOM platform!
We only exist as an organization because of the continued, generous support of our donors, volunteers and partners. In these uncertain times, we don’t take for granted that you continue to support us! Our promise to you is beyond only not giving up, moreover, we will continue to make the adjustments and changes that allow us to meet the challenges of this new reality.
Thanks from all of us at the Justice Coalition!
Grace and peace,
Ryan Townsend, executive director