Joined by survivors, including our own Arien Garcia, as well as Fresno’s mayor and police chief, Assemblymember Jim Patterson announced the passage of a bill that would allow human trafficking survivors to have their records cleared of non-violent crimes within a reasonable amount of time after escaping the life.

At the Justice Coalition, we sincerely believe that legislation like CA Assembly Bill 262 represents a step in the right direction for survivors of human trafficking who have been coerced into committing crimes by those who enslaved and exploited them. We are grateful that Governor Newsom signed this bill into law and are so proud to stand beside Arien Pauls Garcia as she tirelessly advocates for change. Not only does Arien use her voice publicly but she also privately has helped dozens of pre-victim adolescent clients this year alone through our youth prevention programming.

Read more about the process of getting AB 262 passed and signed into law:

KMJ story from Reporter Liz Kern

Fresno Bee article by Melissa Montalvo

It would be an understatement to say that the last 18 months have been a challenging time for us at the Justice Coalition. As the light dawned on 2021, we were presented with an opportunity to streamline our operations through converting two vacated part-time positions into a full-time associate director role. We conducted a thorough search and found the perfect candidate, Dan Carter, for the job.

Only trouble was, as she is a foreign national from Australia, we would need to get a work visa. What we thought would take 6 weeks wound up taking 22 instead but praise God, she has now finally been able to start! I can’t thank all you enough for your support, encouragement and prayers during these trying times.

As an education organization working with vulnerable populations, primarily through in-person presentations, trainings and gatherings, it’s been difficult (the last year plus) to measure our impact using the methods we spent years developing. Yet, even when we haven’t been able to see our efforts produce the numerical impact we desire, this time has been far from wasted.

Currently, we are doing the hard work to streamline our systems and increase our capacity because we know that our mission has never been more important than it is now! With Dan, Arien and myself we now have three full-time staff for the first time in our history and we are joined by Christa, Marissa and Jessica in part-time roles. As we move into the always busy fall season, requests for speakers and classes are skyrocketing. Like a cellphone plugged in overnight (or in this case for the last 8 months) we are charged up and ready to go!

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!

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?