Covenant House – Opening Doors for Homeless Youth

I got a phone call today. It was a restricted number, and normally I don’t answer those, but I thought on the off-chance that it might be important, so I picked up.

Plus, my husband was sleeping in the other room and I didn’t want it to wake him.

I’ve had this organization on my radar for a few years now and love it when I have the resources to help out. That’s not often (working hard to get down our debt…so we can be more generous later).

I’m glad I picked up the phone because they informed me about an amazing matching grant that is going on right now.

Covenant House Logo

Covenant House is an organization founded in the 1970s to help get homeless kids off the streets. This cause resonates all the more with me because I learned a while ago that homeless kids are at high risk of being trafficked. That’s true not just in the States, but across the globe…but let’s get back to Covenant House.

Covenant House has shelters in 21 cities in the US, Canada, and Central America: Anchorage, Atlanta, Atlantic City, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Managua, Mexico City, Milpas Altas, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Orlando, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tegucigalpa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C. and YOU can make a difference in the life of a child there.

I told you that they have a matching grant – $500,000 to match donations made until the end of the year! That has the potential to become $1,000,000!

Need an idea of what they do with that money? There’s a wonderful Christmas catalog on their website where you can get a clear explanation of what certain dollar amounts will provide.

Covenant House Christmas

There are a lot of great charities to support out there, but if you’re looking for one to make your own, I would encourage you to investigate more about Covenant House and then give give give!

By the way, it’s a command of God to help those who are orphaned and abandoned. I don’t think any two kids have the same story of the things they’ve experienced. There are countless reasons that a kid will end up on the streets. However, there is a practical way to help get them off the street and into a warm, nurturing environment. And this is how you can make that happen.

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Reflections on the Planning

I love and hate that God asks us to do things that are way outside of our comfort zone.  My pastor has mentioned often that he is a huge introvert and really doesn’t like getting up in front of people.  But God called him to be a pastor and he’s an amazing one!  For me, I can’t stand planning things.  Even planning a get together with friends drives me nuts!  I would much rather someone else make all the decisions and let me know where I need to be when and what I’m supposed to do.  And yet, inevitably, I will feel God say to me, “Sarah, I think you could plan such and such.  You know, I really want you to plan such and such.  It would be great for you if you would plan such and such.”  And I start down the fairly stressful path of planning an event. 

I don’t do this often.  It’s really God who has to convince me that it’s something I need to do.  But He did so back in November of last year.  If you can’t tell, something that weighs heavy on my heart is the atrocity of human trafficking.  I’ve been in exposure and awareness mode for the last few years – learning as much as I can, attending various events, getting connected with others who are concerned about it as well.  But, as I helped out with a Fall shopping day for Stop Traffick Fashion, I really began to feel like it was something our church needed as well. 

And I cringed.  I would have preferred to tell the ladies in my church about it and then they plan it.  I would even have consented to talking about it in front of the church (another thing I’m not a huge fan of doing), but with the words coming out of my mouth, the task was placed in my hands.  Our WMU leader was really excited about the idea, because she had been reading a couple of articles recently about human trafficking in the church women’s literature.  God was in this.  I’m not saying that I did it all – by no means – Brenda Heckman and Julie Johnson (Christmas tablecloths and all *wink) and Amy Jones and Jo Collas…they are some amazing ladies.  I’m so grateful to have them as role models to learn from, especially in regards to unity of kindred women and…the dreaded – hospitality. 

I am not practiced in hospitality at all.  I can’t remember what all is needed to make people feel comfortable.  For me, I go to an event to learn something and to network…and I assume everyone else is there for the same reason.  Shocking, but that’s not really the case.  Thankfully, the ladies mentioned above organized the food and decorating and there wasn’t much for me to do on that part besides being a grunt and moving tables and chairs. 

My primary task was organizing speakers and getting the word out to the community.  I may not have done the last part as well – and really the first part, I’m thinking went exactly as it should have gone, but nothing like I planned.  I was anticipating having a speaker share at each hour something in regards to human trafficking.  Emily would share about Stop Traffick Fashion and Hagar International.  I would talk about the Christian responsibility and upcoming events in the community.  And the one I was most excited about, a Hamilton Police Officer would come and share about human trafficking in our community, state and nation. 

It was awkward trying to figure out how we were going to stop everything and have everyone listen to a speaker for all of 5-10 mins and then go on their way with eating and shopping.  The only really solid group of “fresh” people was right between 10:30 and 11:15.  So, I asked for Officer Collins to share with everyone what she had been researching.  And it was great!

I wasn’t surprised that, as a local police officer, there wouldn’t be much experience with human trafficking.  I would be surprised if even the local sheriff’s department had any experience with human trafficking.  Our wonderful local sheriff isn’t that keen on the rights of illegals – no matter what condition they are in.  So, I wasn’t surprised when she shared that she got wide eyes and remarks of disbelief or discredit from fellow officers when commenting that human trafficking may be an issue in Butler County, OH.  She talked about not finding much information within the department to go off of, so she began to broaden her scope to the state of Ohio and then to the US.  She was surprised to find that Toledo is #4 in Top Cities of Human Trafficking.  Ohio is #7 in the US for human trafficking.  It’s an issue in every city (which would include Fairfield and Hamilton…”every” being an all-inclusive term).

I think that about 50 people came to the event.  Most of them bought something from STF.  But what I’m most excited is how God brought me to a job where I would meet this police officer, who I could then coordinate with and share a concern and a need in our community with.  And that she would then become interested in the issue and maybe work on spreading it to the rest of the department. 

I don’t know what this means for Butler County.  I don’t know if we’re on the edge of something starting or if it will take a few more years for anything to get going.  I don’t know what my part will be or if I will even have a part in it.  But I know that I am available to God – even if it involves more planning – that I will keep going until He stops me. 

“Out of Bondage” Human Trafficking Event « Fairfield First Baptist Church Blog

If you haven’t already said that you can come, sign up on our Facebook page.  Follow the link below!

This event is being held at my church, Fairfield First Baptist Church.  We have some speakers and shopping provided by Stop Traffick Fashion!  Pass the word along to your friends too!

“Out of Bondage” Human Trafficking Event « Fairfield First Baptist Church Blog.

Nat’l Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11th, is the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  If I had been better prepared, I would have had this post ready to publish first thing in the morning, but I did not, so here it is.

You can call 1.888.373.7888 any time, day or night, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year to report a case of human trafficking.  Human trafficking can take the form of slave labor (including domestic servitude) or forced sex labor and can involve adults and children alike.  The average age of a trafficked child is 12 years old.  Victims of trafficking find themselves there by methods of force, fraud, or coercion.  They might be paying off “debts” with enormous amount of interest.  They may be threatened with violence or abused as well as their families.  They can often be taken across national borders to a country where they don’t speak the language – their paperwork could be forged or missing entirely and they often fear the police as much as their captors.  This fear is usually justified as when the crime is found, they are lumped in with the criminals instead of treated as a victim – many times they are sent back to their own country to live in their shame and risk being trafficked again.

This modern-day slavery is more heinous and comprehensive than the form of slavery fought over in the Civil War.  It is the fastest growing organized crime and second only to drug-trafficking (which is estimated to be surpassed very soon).  If you think that the United States is exempt from this, you are sorely mistaken.  Cases of human trafficking have been reported in every state.  The US has been found to be a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked individuals.

I’m going to list quite a few organizations/people/businesses I follow, either on Twitter or Facebook or whatever.  I would really recommend checking them out.  This is something that burns in my heart – as children of God we are called to loose the bonds of those who are held captive.  Educate yourself and then take up the banner – become an abolitionist.

*and really, these are just a few of the newly blossomed organizations ready to fight human trafficking.  If I’ve left out anyone note-worthy, let me know and I’ll see about adding them!  Thanks!

Organizations

Beauty From Ashes

(Fort Myers, FL)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: BeautyFrmAshes    

Cincinnati Union Bethel

Social service agency: early childhood education; the Anna Louise Inn (housing for women) and Off the Steets (services for prostituted women. (Cincinnati, OH) ***Not only for trafficked individuals, but they deal with it enough to be included***
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: cinunionbethel

DACS United

Designers Against Child Slavery
website  ·  facebook   ·  twitter: dacsunited

DNA Foundation

founded by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher – to eliminate sex slavery worldwide. “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls”
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: dnafoundation

FAIR Fund

Preventing human trafficking of youth worldwide (Washington, DC)
website  ·  twitter: FAIRFund

Free Generation International

committed to eradicating human trafficking in Africa (Africa/US)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: FreeGeneration

Forsaken Generation

leading a national movement to end youth homelessness and child sex trafficking in the US. (New York)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: forsakengen

Hagar International

organization restoring exploited women and children’s lives in Cambodia, Vietnam & Afghanistan
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: HagarIntl

Hookers for Jesus

Destiny Houses are a SAFE haven for ladies in sex slavery (Las Vegas, NV)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: hookersforjesus

International Justice Mission

Head Quarters (Washington, DC)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: IJMHQ

Justice Campaigns
website  ·  twitter: IJMcampaigns

International Sanctuary

website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: isanctuary

Love 146

end child sex slavery and exploitation
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: OfficialLove146

Rob MorrisPresident and Co-founder
website  ·  twitter: ROBLOVE146

Adam Young of the Dayton Ohio Love 146 Taskforce
blog  ·  twitter: youngadamc

Made By Survivors

fights human trafficking and slavery with empowerment & education
website  ·  blogs  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: madebysurvivors

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Not only are they concerned with Cincy’s history in the fight against slavery, they are seeking to build up modern-day abolitionists (Cincinnati, OH)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: FreedomCenter

Not For Sale

campaign for all justice seekers, united to fight human trafficking
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: Not_For_Sale

Polaris Project

a leading non-profit organization committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery. (Washington, DC) **They even have an office in Japan now!**
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: Polaris_Project

RedLight Children

website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: RedLightCC

Restavek Freedom

ending child slavery in Haiti
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: RestavekFreedom

She Shall Go Free

To break all these sufferings, all these fetters of slavery.
blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: sheshallgofree

Stop Child Trafficking

(New York, NY)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: SCTNow

Stop Modern Slavery

Washington, DC
website  ·  blog  ·  twitter: DCSMS

Survivors Connect

website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: survivorconnect

Unbound Movement

A Modern Day Movement to end Modern day Slavery – in all it’s forms! (Cincinnati, OH)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: unboundmovement

Vision Abolition

dedication to prevention, rescue, and restoration (Arizona)
website  ·  blog  ·  twitter: VisionAbolition

Shopping

*Made by Survivors, mentioned above

Night Light Bangkok

business as a mission offering employment to women formerly in the sex industry.
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: NightLightBKK

Nomi Network

leveraging the marketplace, fashion, and film to eradicate sexual slavery (New York)
website  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: nominetwork

Stop Traffick Fashion

a boutique about restoration and change for survivors of human trafficking. (Cincinnati, OH)
website  ·  blog  ·  facebook  ·  twitter: stoptrffckfash

Individuals

Amanda Kloer

writer on Change.org
twitter: endhumantraffic

Covenant House – Donation Opportunity

Well, with all my Pepsi Refreshing, one of the organizations I’ve been promoting asked if I would be willing to post a donation banner on my blog here.  I am honored to have been asked and gladly said YES!

The banner is over to the right, just below the “Tabs” and “Subscribe To” widgets.  If you want more info before you give, read below!

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Covenant House was founded 38 years ago with the mission to help homeless teens and young adults get off the street and into productive lives. Most of the kids Covenant House serves are running from abuse at home or they are thrown out by their parents. Many are kids who were abandoned or abused as young children and have bounced around in the foster care system until they reach 18.  Regardless of the reasons why they are on the street, the fact is that they are and need help. 

A huge percentage of them have not finished high school, have some emotional problems, and have no idea how to get or keep a job. Basically they are fodder for pimps and drug dealers. Covenant House takes these kids in and kind of re-parents them. They offer shelter and meet immediate needs (like a safe place to sleep and medical care) and then they work with the kids on a long-term plan that involves getting a GED diploma, learning a job skill and getting counseling.

Kids who stick with the program are offered a transitional housing program where they are coached in life skills, learn to hold a job, pay rent and take care of themselves. They pay rent to Covenant House for their apartments, and after 12-18 months when they graduate from the program, they are given all of their rent back as a start-up stake in life — to allow them to put a deposit on an apartment and set up a household.

The most interesting thing about Covenant House is that this is not a bureaucratic social services agency, the services are highly personalized for each kid, and they offer the kids parental care and love. Much of the program is about undoing the emotional damage to kids that their parental abandonment has left them with, helping them grow confident and happy with themselves.

Read this story about one of Covenant House’s “moms”:

Newark Woman Gives a Mother’s Love to Residents at Covenant House

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Check them out on:

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Pepsi Refresh – December *Hot Projects*

I showed you the projects I was supporting last month here

Of those, three projects got their funding!  Awesome!  You can check which ones won by going to the link above.

Here are the projects that have my vote for this month.  Again, you can vote each day for up to 10 projects!

Empowering DC teens to avoid & escape exploitation & human trafficking
by FAIR Fund, Inc. – $50k (top 10 get funding)

FAIR Fund is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit working to prevent human
trafficking of youth worldwide by building community leadership, providing education and empowerment programs, and offering compassionate intervention services. We have reached over 15,000 young people 11 countries since 2003.

Goals

  • Educate 1,000 at-risk teens to stay safe from trafficking
  • Support teens in danger
  • Provide access to shelter, medical services, and more for teens
  • Build a community that can better assist exploited teens

Rebuild the lives of homeless, throwaway and trafficked youth
by Covenant House – $250k (top 2 get funding)

Covenant House is the largest privately funded agency in America providing food, shelter, immediate crisis care and other important services to homeless, throwaway, and runaway kids. We strive to move each kid forward toward an independent adulthood free from the risk of future homelessness.

Goals

  • To provide food to 1000 infants & toddlers in our Mother/Child program
  • To help homeless mothers build a future for themselves & their babies
  • To stay open 24/7/365 to any kid who comes to our door

Rehabilitate Victims of HUMAN TRAFFICKING
by International Sanctuary – $250k (top 2 get funding)

International Sanctuary (iSanctuary) empowers survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. iSanctuary is working to ensure survivors receive all the elements necessary for restoration, including education, counseling, vocational training, and mental, emotional healing.

Goals

  • Provide survivors the means to self-sufficiency and reintegration
  • Provide a place and opportunity for survivors to grow professionally
  • The ability for survivors of human trafficking to earn an income

24 Hr Drop-In Center for Human Sex Trafficking Prostitution Victims
by Genesis Project – $250k (top 2 get funding)

I am a Police Officer in Seatac Wa, with KCSO. I’ve been in Law Enforcement for 13 yrs and in the last 9 yrs I’ve contacted and or arrested over 500 prostitutes. Many of whom are juveniles between the ages of 12-17. These girls are modern-day slaves forced into the life. We are taking a stand!

Goals

  • Provide Shelter / Safety / Food / & Rehabilitation for these girls

Expose, Fight and End Child Sex Slavery and Exploitation
by Redlight Children – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Redlight Children is a human rights based nonprofit organization aimed at generating conscious concern for, and ending the demand for child slavery and exploitation. We use mass media to promote awareness, and our efforts include the K11 project-3 films designed to expose the industry.

Goals

  • Expose the issue of child slavery and exploitation in the US
  • Fight against perpetrators through advocating for stricter legislation
  • Collaborate with other nonprofits, corporations, universities, etc
  • Raise awareness and promote our films in communities nationwide
  • Raise awareness and promote our cause on universities nationwide

Develop the Next Generation of Civic Leaders
by Center for Progressive Leadership – $250k (top 2 get funding)

Construct an English Language Learning Center in Omaha, Nebraska
by Alee Forsythe – $250k (top 2 get funding)
*I like this because it can be used to help educate and acclimate victims who are trafficked into the US by teaching them the local language*

Restore Outreach Services to the Homeless in Columbus, OH
by The Open Shelter, Inc. – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Provide Suicide Prevention and Education to People in Cincinnati, OH
by Centerpoint Health – $50k (top 10 get funding)

Provide Properly Fitting Shoes to Children in Desperate Need
by Shoes 4 the Shoeless – $50k (top 10 get funding)