This week we got to celebrate our country’s Independence Day as we have each and every year since our founding. America is a place that is built on the idea of equality and freedom for all. Though we outlawed slavery over 200 years ago, it still persists in our own country. According to new 2016 data from the Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 45.8 million people in some form of modern slavery in 167 countries.

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According to those same numbers, there are nearly 58,000 people caught in modern day slavery in the United States today. California leads the nation in cases reported by state (Polaris Project) with over 1,300 incidences of human trafficking last year, almost double any other state!

Our faith (and our basic humanity) demands a response to this grave injustice. While we enjoy pool parties, barbecues, and fireworks, there are tens of thousands of people who aren’t just missing out on the American Dream, they are missing out on basic human rights.

So, what can one person do to respond to human trafficking in our country and the world beyond? A whole lot, it turns out! You can join us by becoming a monthly partner. We just completed a 50/50 Challenge Drive where we fell short of our goal of 50 new donors but added 31. We will continue to push for more monthly supporters as it enables us to do the crucial work of preventing people from being exploited as slaves!

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You can get educated in one of our HT 101, 201 or Boots on the Ground Training courses. These classes will give you the information and tools you need to become a freedom fighter!

You can get involved in a mentoring program, like Project Stealth or CASA Fresno/Madera. You can join us in praying for the end of slavery.

Whatever you choose to do, DO SOMETHING! There’s no reason to sit on the sidelines. Together, we can make a difference! Contact us at 559.227.8001 if you have any questions at all.

Ryan Townsend, executive director

 

One of my favorite scenes from a movie this year comes from Logan, the darkly dystopian X-Men road movie. Regarding a family in need of help on the side of the road, Logan (played by Hugh Jackman) says to Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, “Someone will come along.”

“Someone has come along,” replies Xavier.

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I’ve thought about this scene often during the last month. Our organization is currently experiencing the growing pains that come from the transition from friendraising to fundraising. When I left Northpark Church to take over at Central Valley Justice Coalition, I relied on the support of people I’d known for a long time to help make the transition and raise the support necessary. Jessica, Kelly and Melissa had done the same before I got here.

At this point, we are now in need of people who will come along, basically out of nowhere. People who see the dire situation of human trafficking and don’t turn away. People who will step up for the cause and take a leap of faith on the people who are running point for the battle.

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I’ve had a number of people tell me that they would rather not know about the realities of human trafficking in our valley. Ignorance of the situation allowed them to have a naive comfort in the midst of the struggle and pain of others. I don’t think this is because they don’t have a heart. I think it’s because they feel like nothing can be done in the face of such overwhelming evil and exploitation.

But it isn’t true. Something can be done! And someone has come along. You are here now, reading this blog entry. What’s next?

Join our team and partner with us to prevent human trafficking in the Central Valley. Sign up to pray. Get involved as a volunteer. Pray, Give, Act.

Ryan Townsend, executive director.

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We are excited that word is spreading during our 50/50 Challenge, and local businesses are jumping on board to prevent trafficking in partnership with the Justice Coalition.

Jeb’s Blueberry Hill, a diner located on Saginaw and Blackstone, just a parking lot away from the Justice Coalition’s office, was the first to take the Challenge! Then, at our event last week, Sno Cafe caught the vision and is now a monthly partner as well!

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Stop by and check out the menu at Jeb’s Blueberry Hill
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great food and service for breakfast and lunch! 
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gourmet shave ice is to die for at Sno Cafe, a local dessert truck
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from our 50/50 TakeOver event, June 14, 2017

We are so grateful for them taking a stand with us and investing in prevention work in OUR COMMUNITY that changes people’s lives and brings freedom. We encourage you to check them out, and if you do, tell them thanks on behalf of the Justice Coalition!

Do you run a business or know of a business that needs to hear about our work?

We need MANY MORE business partners to come on board, take the 50/50 Challenge and commit at least $50 a month (or whatever one can start with, monthly or annually). Will you join personally, or even ask a business on our behalf? (We can provide a request letter (complete with tax credit information), a script for you to use, and even do the follow up work.) Email info@justiceco.org or call / message us today! 559.227.8001 (office)

To Join Us NOW sign up HERE!

For more info on what this money is being used for and other ways to give see our Donate page.

 

Human Trafficking 101 and 201 have been a major focus for us this year and we are so excited about the learning and community mobilization that is happening as a result of these classes!

This year, 2 of the 3 classes we have offered have sold out, with a total of 134 attending so far just in the first quarter of the year. We say it each time and mean it: each person who comes is taking a HUGE step towards preventing modern day slavery in our community and in our world.

“It (HT 101 class) is eye-opening and busts a lot of myths, also shows what I can do to help.” – class participant18527908_1664610786896549_5974405855454874889_n

For three hours, participants learn the local and global realities of trafficking and hear real life stories about how it affects men, women, and children who live in our community. It is our hope and prayer that each person leaves knowing ways to take action both immediately and in the future.

In March we offered our first ever Human Trafficking 201 course, developed by our newest staff member, Education Coordinator Christa Wiens. HT 201 focuses on the global realities of trafficking, conscious consumerism, the impact of legislation, and offers participants a chance to hear from other community leaders such as the Fresno Police Department.

CVJC is thrilled to have Christa Wiens in this expanded staff role, as she’s volunteered with us for over two years and is constantly making our presentations and workshops better. Christa is an extremely gifted communicator, and she demonstrates her passion for justice in her day-to-day life.

If you haven’t taken our class, plan ahead now to join us in September! Also, we are constantly needing more people on our prevention team as we receive more and more requests for workshops. Contact our office to get more involved today!

The 50/50 Challenge is a virtual event taking place during the month of June 2017. 50/50 is all about taking a stand against human trafficking because we believe that every life is equally valuable! Accepting the challenge means publicly declaring that no life is more important than another; we are all equal in God’s eyes.

We love banquets, concerts and charity runs but those type of fundraising events can take a lot of resources to pull off.

We know people are super busy and don’t always have time to come to special events. Plus, Fresno in the summer is hot!

So, taking inspiration from a certain delicious ice cream/popsicle treat, we came up with an idea that we think can be innovative and fun at the same time.

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A lot can happen in only a month.

According to data from Central Valley Against Human Trafficking, nearly 18 victims have been identified on average during the first three months of 2017. The Fresno Police Chaplaincy reports that in a 30 day period from 04/11/17-5/11/17 there were 203 calls for runaway juveniles. In the past, as many as 20% of those runaway youth have been identified as victims of trafficking.

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we work together to prevent young people from being exploited by traffickers.

As part of the 50/50 Challenge, Central Valley Justice Coalition is looking to raise $2500 in new pledged monthly support. 50 new partners giving $50 a month would make it possible for us to sustain our current prevention/education work and expand it to reach more vulnerable people in the future. Any combination of monthly donors adding up to $2500 works, so $50 is simply a suggestion!

The best things in life are those that we share with others, so it is our hope that 50/50 is something that you will be willing to tell friends, coworkers, family members and neighbors about. We will be using posts, videos, memes, songs, instant messages, tweets, snaps and more to spread the word. If you are already supporting us, we aren’t asking you to GIVE more just to help SHARE this opportunity with those in your social circle!

During the month of June, new pledge partners will receive some special gifts for signing up! A 50/50 refrigerator magnet, free music downloads, and Sno Café desserts are just a few of the ways we want to appreciate those who are coming alongside us.

Will you join us in June for the 50/50 Challenge? Together, let’s take a bite out of injustice!
– Ryan Townsend, executive director.