It’s hard to believe that this is the fourth year we have had the opportunity to raise money for our Freedom Fund! Back in 2014, we were just getting started! We had no idea how much we would grow. We began with two part-time staff, lots of awesome volunteers, and the opportunity to raise up to $5,000 that would generously be matched by our partners at True Organic Products.
This time we are aiming to raise $20,000 from Nov. 1 to 20 which will then be matched by True Organic for a total of $40,000!
In the past four years, we have grown in so many ways! We have solidified our area of focus as a coalition, which I continue to believe is a desperate and urgent need in our community: Prevention. We must PREVENT trafficking from happening by educating everyone we can and surrounding those who are most vulnerable with resources and trusted advocates.
We have grown from a staff of two part-time employees to employing a full-time Executive Director and three part-time paid staff. We have 10 people trained on our prevention team and numerous other interns and volunteers working on other projects. We are truly growing into a community coalition!
We invite you to be part of it this year, whether for the first time or again for the fourth time because every single one of us is needed if we are going to prevent people from being exploited as slaves!
Thank you for catching the vision and running with us! We are deeply grateful to each of you who have given to our Freedom Fund. And we especially thank True Organic Products, for the fourth year in a row, for leading the way and helping us extend to others the opportunity to invest in freedom for all.
Sometimes people wonder why we, the Justice Coalition, get involved in advocacy in addition to education/direct service. There are many reasons behind our involvement in advocating for change relating to preventing human trafficking. For the sake of not going too far into tl;dr territory, here are the most important reasons.
Scripture calls us to use our voices for those whose voices cannot be heard. Proverbs 31:8 (NIV) says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Further, we see that God’s eyes are turned towards those who are oppressed.Psalms: 34: 15 – 18 (NIV) emphasizes that “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Systemic oppression requires systemic change. Helping one person at a time is vital work but it won’t prevent someone else from being exploited in the future. One reason why traffickers have thrived is that our laws have been slow to change in order to reflect new realities. New legislation is needed to confront evolving criminal activities that enslave the vulnerable.
In our system, elected officials are supposed to be accountable to the people who voted them into office. I get it, a lot of us don’t want to rely on the government to solve all of our problems. I hope that we all are doing something personally, individually to fight the evil of human trafficking. However, we need more than just individuals to combat modern-day slavery. Cartels and gangs are organized, powerful forces for evil. We need local, state and federal governments to get equally committed to fighting for justice. The reality is that we can’t solve this problem without the government, faith community, businesses, schools and community benefit organizations working together!
Advocacy usually involves getting government, business, schools, or some other large institution (also known as Goliath) to correct an unfair or harmful situation affecting people in the community (also known as David, and friends). The situation may be resolved through persuasion, by forcing Goliath to buckle under pressure, by compromise, or through political or legal action. – Prue Breitrose
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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 email@example.com or call / message us today! 559.227.8001 (office)
For more info on what this money is being used for and other ways to give see our Donate page.
If you or someone you know is:
•not getting paid for their labor
•not free to change employers
•being controlled by someone else
•being forced to do something they don't want to do
•has been cheated into payment of debt upon arrival
You, he, or she may be a victim of human trafficking and eligible for free assistance.
Call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888.373.7888 for more information. Or, text INFO or HELP to BEFREE (233733)
Contact us at 559.725.1865 for support, resources, and consultation. You can also contact the Fresno Police Tip Line at 559. 621.5950.
Child + Sex Trafficking Resources
Resources for Parents, Educators, Youth Workers, + Others Reaching Youth
Sex Trafficking + Prostitution + Exploitation Info