“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.”

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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

 

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.

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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

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Hello friends and partners, we‘re excited to announce that due to continued growth and the support of many in our community, we‘re looking to hire a Prevention Program Manager!  We just completed our first 6 week program for teen boys, using the Not a Number cirriculum, and we are thrilled to be bringing Love 146 out to Fresno this April to train more of our staff!

Please spread the word to those you think may be interested in this opportunity to reach our community (especially young people) with a message of hope: together we WILL prevent human trafficking and exploitation. Deadline to submit resume and cover letter (to info@justiceco.org) is March 15.

Here’s a snapshot of the job description, and view the link below for complete a posting.

The Prevention Program Manager (PPM) provides oversight for programs related to prevention of human trafficking, in alignment with the mission and values of the Justice Coalition (CVJC).  This includes education, resourcing, training and intervention in the community. PPM will assist in the identification and resourcing of victims/survivors in the Central Valley as they connect to CVJC through programming. PPM will be responsible to identify and resource vulnerable communities and individuals primarily through education and intensive programs. He/she is also responsible to fundraise individually and as a team for the overall budget of the Justice Coalition through personal contacts, Justice Coalition contacts, and grant research writing.

Job Posting Prevention Program Manager

Sometimes people wonder why we, the Justice Coalition, get involved in advocacy in addition to education/direct service. There are many reasons behind our involvement in advocating for change relating to preventing human trafficking. For the sake of not going too far into tl;dr territory, here are the most important reasons.

  1. Scripture calls us to use our voices for those whose voices cannot be heard. Proverbs 31:8 (NIV) says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”  Further, we see that God’s eyes are turned towards those who are oppressed.Psalms: 34: 15 – 18 (NIV) emphasizes that “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”vlcsnap-2016-10-31-15h49m25s319
  2. Systemic oppression requires systemic change. Helping one person at a time is vital work but it won’t prevent someone else from being exploited in the future. One reason why traffickers have thrived is that our laws have been slow to change in order to reflect new realities. New legislation is needed to confront evolving criminal activities that enslave the vulnerable.IMG_0136
  3. In our system, elected officials are supposed to be accountable to the people who voted them into office. I get it, a lot of us don’t want to rely on the government to solve all of our problems. I hope that we all are doing something personally, individually to fight the evil of human trafficking. However, we need more than just individuals to combat modern-day slavery. Cartels and gangs are organized, powerful forces for evil. We need local, state and federal governments to get equally committed to fighting for justice. The reality is that we can’t solve this problem without the government, faith community, businesses, schools and community benefit organizations working together!Coalition-Group-Photo

Advocacy usually involves getting government, business, schools, or some other large institution (also known as Goliath) to correct an unfair or harmful situation affecting people in the community (also known as David, and friends). The situation may be resolved through persuasion, by forcing Goliath to buckle under pressure, by compromise, or through political or legal action. – Prue Breitrose

Learn more from the Community Tool Box, a resource from the University of Kansas