by Vanessa Mahlmann

I began my time with the Coalition as a volunteer 2 years ago and it has changed my life. 

I wasn’t involved with any groups or organizations at the time. I knew about the Coalition, but I did not take action until the Lord spoke to me. I had no idea what God had in store for me.

I was a homebody and allowed life to pass me by for quite some time. I grew up involved with the Salvation Army, as my grandparents were ministers for the Salvation Army. I did a lot of volunteer work in my youth and I loved it. There really wasn’t a feeling like it. To give, to receive nothing tangible back and wanting to continue doing it because you know it is the right thing to do. Somewhere between getting married, starting a family, going to school, and getting MY “priorities” in order I forgot to serve. Not just my community, but my Lord. 

And, even if you do not believe in God, you can believe that volunteering and serving others is important and good! We need to serve and give with a cheerful heart. Not just our finances (which is helpful too) but with our time. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) The blessings that we can give and receive are innumerable as well as unimaginable. I know, because it has and still is happening to me.

Volunteering gives us a sense of purpose. Nothing brings people together like fighting for the freedom of others!  The work that Justice Co volunteers provide is essential to everyday processes. Running errands, stuffing envelopes, data entry, outreach,  teaching classes, all which gives volunteers a sense of purpose. Some of these things may seem inconsequential, but they are what it takes to prevent human trafficking. 

Volunteering may reduce stress levels. By enjoying time spent in service to others, individuals will feel a sense of meaning and appreciation, which can have a stress-reducing effect. I love, pray for, and trust our volunteers. I do my best to make sure they know how much I appreciate each and every one of them.

Volunteering ignites passion and makes us happy. Research has shown that the “feel good” hormones and brain activity spike during volunteer activities. Volunteering is also a good way to explore different interests. The Justice Co has many ways individuals can use their gifts and talents. Graphic design, mentoring, education, and event planning are just some of the ways our volunteers can serve. 

For those of you who are reading this that have helped the Coalition in any capacity, thank you! If you can’t give your time right now, when you give financially you are sharing from what you earn…every hour and every dollar matters. It’s in fact multiplied – even doubled through midnight tomorrow! Will you join us?

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

 1 John 3:18

Vanessa Mahlmann, Office Administrator

ps. volunteer orientation coming Nov 14th! Save the date!

By Jessica Pittman

Sometimes no story is really the best story we can tell

– Ryan Townsend

Yesterday one of our staff participated in a round table discussion for caregivers of foster youth. She discovered that one of the people at the discussion had been trained by us about two years ago when they were on staff at a local middle school.

This person shared that thanks to the staff training and youth programs that we’ve been consistently running at their school, that year they immediately started to see an increase in kids recognizing red flags before they turned into exploitation. 

Several kids told the staff that they had planned to meet a person they didn’t know at a bus stop. They had met this person online. However, because they were in our youth program #Not a Number, these students realized the potential danger and chose not to go.

This is a huge win! This means what we’re all doing together MATTERS. And we know without a doubt there are many many stories like this, probably more than we know.

We are now entering the final week of our Freedom Fund and we need your help to run more programs and provide more training in the future! Every dollar up to $22,000 is doubled so now is the time to give and maximize your impact. Every gift, large or small makes a difference. Every dollar counts because every person is valuable and deserves to be free!

Check out the infographic below to see how the impact of Freedom Fund during the last five years.

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 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