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!
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
Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you all!
On behalf of the Justice Coalition, I am writing to invite your church/faith community to participate in this year’s Freedom Sunday on February 26th. We are busy putting together special “Freedom Sunday in a box” packs that will make it simple for your church to host anywhere from a 5-minute window to an entire worship service.
Freedom Sunday 2017 is coming! from Central Valley Justice Coalition on Vimeo.
Freedom Sunday is an internationally recognized day for the church body to focus on worship, prayer, and action in response to human trafficking (and other forms of slavery), the fastest growing crime in the world.
We will have all of our resources, including a brand-new Freedom Story video, ready to be distributed by January 24th, when we will host a training and informational meeting at Northpark Community Church from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm in Room 202. You, or a representative from your church, are invited to join us to learn how to simply engage your church in responding to human trafficking from a Christ-centered perspective.
For the first time, this year, we have the capacity to send as many as 15 different speakers to churches across the city. If you’d like to book one of our educators to come speak please reply to this email or call us at 227-8001.
Hope to see you all on January 24th!
Northpark Church is located at 2297 E. Shepherd Ave Fresno, CA 93720.
Last month, Melissa Gomez of Central Valley Against Human Trafficking and myself were invited by the Fresno State Title IV-E Child Welfare department to present at the 17th Annual Harry Specht Memorial Symposium.
The event, held annually to honor MSW and BA Social Work graduates, was titled Human Trafficking: Seeking Justice. Continuing Education Credit was offered to current social workers and those in the field of child welfare and we were given an hour and a half to train and educate on issues/interventions affecting foster youth pertaining to trafficking.
It was truly an honor and privilege to be able to address a room of well over 100 professionals and graduates and have the opportunity to equip them to join the fight against human trafficking. The foster system has long been a place where vulnerable youth have been exploited and trafficked. Social workers are an essential piece of any strategy to prevent trafficking and to intervene on behalf of those who are victims.
One highlight was me was hearing from Jamelia Hinds Vicks, whom we featured in our latest Freedom Story video. Jamelia’s story was shown on several screens and then she followed up with the latest developments in her story. Jamelia continues to grow as a speaker and advocate and I am continually inspired by her resilience and courage.
We’d like to extend a special thanks to Maggie Armistead, Fresno State faculty, for inviting us and the rest of the department for making HT awareness and prevention an educational priority for current and future social workers!
Ryan Townsend, Executive Director
At the core of our mission is the idea that Partnerships and Prevention are essential in standing up to the evil of human trafficking.
Through education and awareness we believe that we can prevent vulnerable people from being exploited by empowering them with the information to make choices that lead to freedom and not into slavery.
Last week, Central Valley Justice Coalition partnered with North Fresno Church’s youth ministry for a night of education, awareness and prayer around the issue of human trafficking locally and globally.
We encouraged the students to make just consumer decisions, urged them to use their voices to be advocates for freedom, and gave a breakdown on how to identify trafficking.
A group presentation with small group breakout sessions is also a perfect time to train students on how to respond through giving them access to resources and equipping them with information and ongoing support.
With separate small group sessions for Middle School and High School students, we are also able to keep the night age-appropriate and relevant for youth of any age.
Wednesday night it was also exciting and inspiring to introduce our new line of t-shirts and add dozens more #FreedomStory photos to our mobile art installation.
We believe that young people are the future and investing in them is the only way to see to slavery end in our lifetime!
If you’d like to inquire about CVJC coming to your youth ministry, club or school, please contact us so we can discuss partnering to prevent human trafficking.
My Life My Choice is an evidence-based prevention curriculum that provides a concrete, well-researched method for preventing commercial sexual exploitation among vulnerable adolescent girls.
My Life My Choice groups can be offered weekly in schools, group homes, and other community settings.
This past Monday and Tuesday, CVJC and Youth For Christ hosted over 50 people who were trained to facilitate the class at Fresno EOC’s Nielsen Conference Center. We were excited to offer the training to 6 of our educators in preparation to offer this resource across the valley in 2016.
YFC and CVJC have already partnered together to offer two full sessions and two mini-sessions of My Life My Choice at the Juvenile Justice Campus. As a result of this partnership, 5 girls have already disclosed that they were victims of trafficking or abuse.
“I really enjoyed the classes we have been able to come to. I can never explain how much this has helped me. Before this, I wouldn’t even talk about my past. I felt chained down and scared. Now, shoot! I feel free and I feel stronger than I ever have. I have high hopes for a better future. And thank you for all you guys have done for us. I could never thank ya’ll enough for helping me find my voice.” – Teen Survivor of Sex Trafficking
For more information on how you can partner with us to bring My Life My Choice to at-risk to youth in your field, please contact Associate Director Jessica Pittman, jessica@cvjusticecoalition, or call our office 559.227.8001.