My journey with the Central Valley Justice Coalition began years ago when I was first resourced as a survivor of human trafficking and everything else progressed from there. I started off as a volunteer assisting with the Human Trafficking 101 (now Understanding Human Trafficking) classes. Eventually, I joined the team as a volunteer prevention educator. In 2017, I accepted an invitation from the Justice Coalition board of directors and served for two-and-half consecutive years before taking this new opportunity to become a staff member.

headshot of Arien Pauls

“I believe God placed me with this amazing organization. I am a person who believes strongly that there is a time for everything and that timing is God’s alone!

After waiting eight years to get an official job position within the anti-human trafficking movement, I believe God placed me with this amazing organization. I am a person who believes strongly that there is a time for everything and that timing is God’s alone!  Equipped with both my lived experience and years of hands-on work in this field, plus a love for working with youth and at-risk populations, I knew I would be the perfect fit for the position of Program Manager.

Statement from Justice Coalition leadership: Arien Pauls is a driven advocate and an active leader in the Central Valley of California, fighting the issue of human trafficking by collaborating with local agencies and sharing her personal experiences to help implement change for victims and survivors of human trafficking. She has also served her first two-year term on the California CSEC Action Team Advisory Board. Arien has also worked as a volunteer as a lead victim advocate for adult women at Breaking the Chains, an organization that provides services to survivors of human trafficking.

In 2018, Arien was awarded the Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award by the United States Congress. Her other interests include creating art for her small business, vintage memorabilia, parenting her daughter and wedding planning, as she will marry her best friend in December 2020. Currently, Arien is enrolled at Grand Canyon University, where she is pursuing a B.S. degree in Justice Studies.

Arien Pauls with Congressman Jim Costa in 2018

After nearly 100 days without any in-person events, we returned in June with two outdoor events aimed at preventing human trafficking! In every possible way, we worked to keep these gatherings socially distant and safe for all as we responded with a prayer walk in Downtown Fresno and the Poster Project (sharing posters, educational resources and emergency backpacks throughout the city).

Gathering to pray on June 23, 2020

As a Coalition, we sensed God moving among us at these events. We prayed for healing in our city, state and country in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic and nationwide calls for racial equality. Following the events, we got to hear inspiring stories of how a simple backpack or cold bottle of water made someone’s day.

Distributing posters to businesses and public areas on June 20, 2020

Thanks to all who joined us! Stay tuned for more ways you can join us in-person on our mission to prevent human trafficking and exploitation. In the meantime, sign up for one of our online classes, donate to our work, or share our content on social media!

To our brothers and sisters, friends, partners, and colleagues in the Black community: 

It is difficult to find words to express our devastation and brokenness over the lives that have been taken – those we know of and those we don’t – this year and in the many years of our country’s history. We grieve with you and we are angry. As both individuals and as an organization we commit to standing with you. 

We acknowledge that we are participants in a shared history of deep trauma and we repent for our complicity in systems that have perpetuated injustice and suffering. Beyond this moment in time, there is a long, hard road ahead of us. As an organization, we have worked for freedom and justice for years but have still failed to fully grasp the struggle of our brothers and sisters.

Our city has a history of racism and division. Our churches have fallen short. We have caused pain. We are asking God to forgive us for ways we have contributed to racism and to guide us into a deeper understanding of his work to redeem, restore and reconcile all people through his son Jesus Christ.

We commit to moving forward in unity. We are listening. We are praying. We are actively researching, continually learning with eyes wide open. We are taking action. We commit to deepening our relationships with African American leaders in our community that we already know and seeking out those that we don’t know yet to listen and learn. We will actively seek involvement from African American youth for our youth leadership coalition. We also pledge to use our influence and relationships to advocate for meaningful reforms that will address police brutality and inequitable enforcement against the Black community.

We know that we might make mistakes and we pledge to acknowledge and correct our actions when they are pointed out to us by those we seek to serve. As an organization, we are motivated by our unshakeable belief that every human being is valuable and deserves to be free. We believe, standing with our brothers and sisters, that Black lives matter and we join the chorus of voices calling for meaningful actions from individuals, institutions, and communities to combat systemic racism.


Central Valley Justice Coalition staff and board

Central Valley Justice Coalition, on behalf of Jamelia Hinds VIcks, is grateful for the many who want to advocate for justice for Jamelia’s case. Please be advised our agency is first and foremost concerned with the safety of all individuals involved. This includes those who are victims of crime and those who have committed crimes.

The Coalition is making the following statement regarding Jamelia’s story:

  1. We do not condemn or hold Buchanan High School, or any staff past or present, responsible for Jamelia’s story. The Coalition makes no claims about the response of Buchanan High and if you have questions regarding their response contact their office or our office directly at 559-725-1865. The community as a whole failed Jamelia, not one person or institution, and we created the video to encourage us ALL to learn the signs of trafficking and abuse, report them, and take peaceful action to work towards justice for all.
  2. As the Justice Coalition, we do not take justice into our own hands but we work side by side with the Vice Unit of Fresno Police Department to ensure the safety of all victims and survivors. All matters should be taken directly to law enforcement by contacting the Vice Unit / Fresno Police at 621-7000. For your safety do not take any action on this case.
  3. Report any concern or questions relating to other human trafficking cases to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or our local resource line 559-725-1865. For your safety, do not investigate or intervene without training. Contact the hotline (24-7),law enforcement or our agency directly at 559-725-1865.
  4. The Justice Coalition is anti-violence. We believe that violence is perpetuated by violence. When injustice occurs, our response of demanding change comes through taking peaceful steps of action. We work to bring systemic change. We advocate for survivors and provide scholarships and emergency aid, and we seek to make their voices heard. We will never promote a violent act, as those are the very actions that victimize others.
  5. Our mission in sharing Freedom Stories includes a commitment to avoid the the retraumatization of those who have been victimized. Please respect Jamelia’s privacy and that of her family. If you wish to help Jamelia directly, you may leave her a message on our Resource Line at 559-725-1865. One of us or Jamelia herself will respond as we are able.

No footage of real locations were used in the video for the safety of all involved.

Visit our Take Action page for ways you can respond that help abolish slavery and make sure what happened to Jamelia does not happen to others.

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