“After the training ended, one of the educators approached us and asked to talk. She said that she had been a victim of trafficking, and that her trafficker had sat right across from her in a high school class. She knew the importance of our message first-hand…

That day, the room was full of educators, most of whom worked with middle schoolers. Ryan and I (Christa) had finished a one-hour presentation about what trafficking is and what it looks like in our schools.

As educators, they are often on the front-lines, whether they know it or not, interacting with students and building relationships with families.  With the right background knowledge, they might be the ones to identify vulnerabilities and build support, to identify victims, and to recognize traffickers on their own campuses, but they need to know what to look for.  Of course the audience was responsive. They work in the schools because they care about kids, and as we shared stories of the realities of trafficking in our community, they could recognize students from their own schools.  

One of the students we worked with last year shared this story which stands out to me as a powerful example of what we’re all working hard to prevent. 

“The story I told you today about the guy who wanted to pick me up…I kinda thought about wanting to get in the car but then I thought that It was wrong and something could happen to me.

But I also thought about what would happen then if I got in, and I thought about our group and heard stories about what happened to the girls. And I did not want that happening to me. So I thank you for being here (and sharing your stories and stuff. I don’t know what I would do without this group.”


We have had 97 students complete our extended youth programs so far this year! We have given Human Trafficking 101 presentations in a variety of settings and to a number of different professional groups. We have trained social workers, teachers, medical professionals, group home supervisors, and community members. It is easy to believe that we know where trafficking happens and who is at risk.  We read stories and watch movies and we think we have an idea of who is safe and who really needs this information. What we know after all of these presentations, is that everyone needs to be educated.  In every profession, in every neighborhood, in every school, in every church, there is someone affected by human trafficking. Everyone has the potential to be an advocate, to offer help to someone who needs it.  They may never identify themselves to you as a victim of human trafficking, but the resources you will gain can be used in a variety of situations to offer assistance and support. If we have not yet been to your community, your workplace, your school, you can be the one to invite us!  You can speak to the decision-makers in your area. You can even go online right now and fill out a speaker request form. It only takes a few minutes. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Please consider donating NOW so we can reach more people! Every dollar is matched today through Friday. We urgently ask for YOU to help us reach our goal of $25,000 to prevent trafficking!

Freedom Fund Info Graphic 2018

 –  by Christa Wiens and Jessica Pittman


So this morning, our director Ryan texted in sick with stomach flu. Eek. it’s our crunch week to raise money. we need just under $18K by THIS Friday to make our matching grant goal to cover just some of our budget. Broadly speaking, we totally have more open doors than we can walk through, but we’re still seeing some closed doors that we know should be open. Also, we’ve all missed work a lot lately for unplanned health reasons. So, when my favorite-admin-justice-coalition-league-member, Vanessa, walked into my office first thing this morning and said,

“we need to pray and fast”, we said YESSSSSSSS.

I can’t tell you how fantastic it is to occasionally be spontaneous and (hopefully more than occasionally) follow the Holy Spirit’s lead where I work…it’s both a privilege and responsibility I don’t take lightly! (side note – so glad this can be done wherever we happen to work, whether “faith-based” or not!)

So, Freedom Fast is happening starting tomorrow!

We invite you and your people (small group? family? parish?) to join with us. pray, give and act with us! It’s apparent to our team that this is urgent in more ways than one. I can honestly tell you, money is only one of the central issues we will pray about…it’s about praying for freedom.

But I will never hesitate to say that money simply has to be used as part of the solution to modern day slavery, instead of the problem. We have that power!

How you can join us:

1. Pray: please join us and pass this link about our Freedom Fast on to any people you know are specifically gifted or called to pray. Just forward this email, message them… send them a gif basket etc

2. Donate to Freedom Fund today! Share this opportunity any way you can

TODAY, we are 28% of the way there! 

3. Act: Join us this week in in person:
Pray for Freedom
Friday Oct 19th, 12:30pm to 1pm
Meet in front of Fresno First Baptist (Worship Center area) at 1400 E Saginaw Way
We are taking 30 minutes to walk and pray in the place our organization first started, in the heart of one of the well-known human trafficking street spots in Fresno

Gazebo Gardens  Friday, October 19th, 5pm-8pm
Hang out with us! Nothing is planned. (Many of our favorite conversations usually happen when we don’t plan, right?). We’re available to answer questions, and of course we are accepting donations during the last few hours of our Freedom Fund campaign!

~Jessica Pittman

Founder/Associate Director

We can scarcely believe it but the time has come for Freedom Fund again! This is our fifth year raising funds for our prevention work thanks to a generous matching donation from True Organic Products, Inc.

staff pic edit

Our partnership with a company dedicated to growing food organically and treating workers justly began nearly a half-decade ago and what a relationship it has been! Over the last four years, we have turned $50,000 into $114,157 thanks to our faithful supporters. That money has gone directly into our prevention work and we believe that we have put it to good use. To date, we have hosted 265 presentations, educated 17,765 individuals face to face, and graduated 624 people from our HT 101/201/301 classes!

Freedom Fund Info Graphic 2018

This has only been possible thanks to you and your support. This year, we have added Marissa Garcia to our staff and this has already allowed us to put nearly 100 youth through our 5-session prevention programs. In order to fund our 2019 budget and beyond, we have set our most ambitious goal yet of $25,000 to be matched by True Organic Products.

As of this morning though, we are only about 17% of the way to our goal … so we are asking you to please give so we can continue with this important work! Any amount, no matter how small, will help us get there. Whether it’s $10, $50 or even $100, can you help us take the next step on this journey?

Thanks to you, the future is looking bright and lives are being redirected away from exploitation! 

– Ryan Townsend, executive director

“I’m doing much better today,” said the high school girl when asked how she was feeling. During a previous class, she was visibly affected by some of the course material and stepped outside for a breath. After taking some time to comfort her, I encouraged her to come back to class and she did. Her classmates were clearly moved as well and waiting for the girl with some positive, uplifting words that they wrote on her paper handout. I watched her smile and the lesson of the day set in.

On the last day, when I called the young girl up to receive her certificate of completion, she swiftly approached me with open arms. Her smile was radiant despite the tears she shed moments earlier during a spoken-word video which emphasized that teenagers are “not a number.” Hopefully, they never will be considered as a commodity thanks to the tools they took away from this class.

“I’m doing much better today.”

This girl was just one of the many kids, and adults, who are impacted by our programs. Not only do we see their interest but we see their heart, the pain in their eyes as they consider the issues and the resilience formed in them as they decide to help fight human trafficking. This fight can take many forms and for us it takes the form of prevention through education.

It takes money to provide these programs to the public. This is why our Freedom Fund campaign is so important. During this time, not only are we raising money to sustain these programs but every dollar raised is doubled through a matching grant. There are more people who have a heart for advocacy and even more who can avoid being trafficked if reached with a CVJC program. Please continue to help us serve as many people as possible by donating to our Freedom Fund.

Thank you.

Marissa Garcia, Prevention Program Manager


The goal of our classes is to not only address the issue of human trafficking but also to give the general public (alongside with service providers) the basic information on how to spot a potential trafficking victim and what to do from there.

The whole goal is to prevent human trafficking through education! HT 101 breaks down the essence of all types of human trafficking with more of an emphasis on sex trafficking, highlighting recruitment, vulnerabilities, and misconceptions. HT 201 pin points and focuses on labor trafficking both globally and locally. In a recent partnership with Breaking the Chains, we have incorporated a new HT 301 which is a boots-on-the-ground training where service providers in different fields come to be better prepared to work with and offer help to potential victims they come across.

I have had the distinct pleasure of becoming a part of the prevention team; it has been very liberating and even more so, encouraging! I believe that it is very important to give survivors an opportunity to be more than their story and experiences, that is where true growth and healing come from. 

Arien Pauls quote

Previously, I was stuck in a place where all I did was share my story and I felt that was all that I was good at even though I longed to teach about the issues at hand not just my own experience. Central Valley Justice Coalition got me certified in all of the HT classes, paid for me to get trained in My Life, My Choice and in turn, now I help teach most of the HT 101 classes and now help facilitate MLMC classes in many different settings to reach our young students and at-risk youth.

I would like to invite all those who are reading this to sign up for one if not all of the HT classes. With the knowledge gained in these classes, you will feel empowered and equipped with a better understanding of the problem of human trafficking that plagues our city.

–  Arien Pauls, Justice Coalition board member, educator, advocatejoin us for classes!