Central Valley IICF presents us with an $8000 grant

Yesterday, March 12, we were presented with an $8000 grant from the Central Valley Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) at our office in South Central Fresno. The money will help us with our prevention programs for teens and adults for sure, but it is also a huge encouragement to know that hundreds of people from the insurance industry gave to make this grant possible! Valley businesses that provide opportunities for their employees to give charitably to local organizations are a vital part of our collective work to prevent human trafficking and exploitation.

We would like to thank the Steering Committee for the Central Valley Chapter of IICF for their hard work and dedication to raising funds to provide grants to local Community Benefit Organizations like ourselves!

Central Valley Steering Committee Leadership

Diane Carpenter, Zenith Insurance Company
Ed Clark, The Hartford
Jennifer Donato, Markel
Bob Funnell, Liberty Mutual
Sheila Ghimenti, Travelers
Christina Gomez, Relation Insurance Services
Diana Granillo, Hanover
Jody McTavish, TheHartford
Michael Osmer, SCIF
Greg Patton, Valley Regional
Tom Powell, Cal Valley Insurance
Kathy Schroeder, Sierra Specialty
Marcia Shafer, Zenith Insurance Company
Rene Swan, United Valley Insurance

The founding division of the IICF, the California Division was launched in 1994.  In 2008 the Division expanded and became the Western Division serving the Western United States. Each division determines its own grant focus areas, grant guidelines, events, and volunteer activities. The Western Division’s grant focus areas are Children at Risk, Education and Human Services. To date, as a whole organization, IICF has contributed over $31 million in local community grants!

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) helps communities and enriches lives by uniting the collective strength of the insurance industry in providing grants, volunteer service, and leadership. You can find out more by visiting their website IICF.org or by searching the hashtag #insurancegivesback on social media channels.

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

Some ten years ago, on the campus of Fresno First Baptist Church, a movement began. It was fueled, at first, by a not-yet-informed yet determined passion. We started to see things on the streets and in our neighborhoods with new eyes.

We started listening to stories of real women and men whose lives had taken unforeseen turns.

We saw the pain in the eyes of those who felt they had no options.

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We prayed. We asked questions, often of ourselves. We researched, listened, and asked more questions. We gathered others, and the movement continued to grow.
On 1.1.11 we launched. From the beginning, Fresno First Baptist Church has been integral to our work. Many people have supported us through prayer, giving, advocating and volunteering. Each Pastor that has led FFBC has taken on the charge of calling the Church in the Valley to fight for freedom.

We really can’t express our gratitude for the gifts and grace given to us by this community. From Pastor Willie Nolte and Pastor Bryan Hitch when we first began to our current champions Pastor Manny Collazo and Brooke Ortiz, we truly could not have done it without you! And we will keep doing it with you. This tribute comes with deep sincerity as we now look to the future.173013_10150150548721145_2814810_o

So it is a bittersweet time but we are looking to a future filled with possibilities! As a team, we have prayed for over a year about the potential of moving. We are thankful that our partners at Fresno First and Aspen Public School are growing and there is a shortage of space!

We know we leave them well-trained and equipped to continue as a light and beacon of hope to the people in the neighborhood around 1400 E Saginaw. Now, God has a whole new neighborhood for us to influence less than 2 miles away.

We moved into our new space February 1, 2018. We are grateful for the partnership with Aplos Software who is renting their facility to us.

We couldn’t be more thrilled about this new chapter that is just beginning. Will you help write it?

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Technology plays an essential role in our work to prevent human trafficking. In our fast-paced culture, we are tasked with keeping up with today’s youth in communication and with presenting our message in the best possible context.

So it is with deep gratitude that we thank the Fresno Rotary for a generous donation that allowed us to purchase a brand new laptop and tablet to use for our programs and outreach!

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At the Justice Coalition, we are building for a sustainable future. Our bold vision includes a Central Valley where arrests, rescue, and recovery are not necessary because our area has successfully prevented people from being exploited and enslaved.

Thank you, Fresno Rotary for your generosity and forward thinking!

Four years ago, well before I came to the Justice Coalition, we partnered with True Organic Products Inc. to launch our very first Freedom Fund campaign. Every year since we began with a modest matching goal of $5000, our network of supporters have responded generously to help us reach the goal! Together, we raised over $63,000 in the first three years to fund our prevention work.

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This year, again with the commitment of True Organic, we set our most ambitious goal ever ($40,000) total in our shortest time period ever (20 days) and once again you have come through with $47,171 raised to date. This means that Freedom Fund has a running total of over $110,000 in four short years! We thank God for each and every person who has given sacrificially in order to bring freedom to the captives and to protect the vulnerable from oppression.

I was able to spend last week in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, giving thanks for a year of growth and expansion in this human trafficking prevention ministry. My heart was full of gratitude and thanksgiving as I considered how far we have come since our humble beginnings as a volunteer prayer meeting. Yet, I couldn’t help but also feel the sadness of empty space, the sorrow of knowing that there are young people right now who are in danger of exploitation who don’t know what true freedom feels like. Thanks to all of you, we have the opportunity to reach out to them with the message of hope. This coming year we will do everything we humanly know how to do and believe that God will do the rest!

– Ryan Townsend, executive director