**This post continues Scott's series on prevention from December.**
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I have had many people ask how they can get involved in helping the fight against sex trafficking. My answer often shocks people. I tell them to serve anywhere that speaks into the lives of at-risk youth. This is the best prevention method. Go into the poorest neighborhood and find out where they need help, and then serve with humility. You don’t need to know a survivor of sex trafficking to be able to prevent sex trafficking.
Too often people want work with survivors. This work is not for everyone, and not everyone would benefit the lives of survivors, especially during the early months of recovery. Down the road they will need a community that is robust and diverse, but early on the women need mindful and knowledgeable friends that will help them on the path to recovery. I find that the heart of the volunteers is in the right place, but the methods and timing might need to be adjusted.
About five years ago I was convicted that I would spend my life helping to fight the local sex trade. I hate slavery and want to see it end. Much of my first year was spend in study. I was learning, reading, listening and seeing where it was that I fit into this puzzle of human trafficking. I was getting prepared to be in this work for the long haul. I was in this work for over two years before I became a friend with a survivor.
I know that each path into this work will be different for others. I don’t want everyone to be like me or take my path. However, what I believe would be helpful is to set aside our preconceived notions about what helping looks like. I have one friend that used to go into the street and pass out toiletries and bring hope to women on the street. She didn’t do this for long, but she was still passionate about helping fight sex trafficking. Through a process she found her way to helping with local youth in an at-risk neighborhood. She is now doing more to prevent sex trafficking than she ever has, even though she doesn’t necessarily talk about sex trafficking anymore.
In honesty, sex trafficking needs more help in areas that don’t involve direct contact with survivors. We need good marketing people to help get the word out. We need content creators to come up with videos, blogs, community forums, or podcasts to inform people about what is going on in their community. We need grant writers and fundraisers to help provide for the ongoing work. We need those who are in government and policymakers to look into this issue and help create laws that will protect vulnerable populations and survivors. We need people to work in the office. We need accountants, doctors, and lawyers who are willing to do pro bono work for organizations that can’t afford these services. We need website designers or graphic artists to make their brand look good and professional. We need people who are willing to serve anywhere with humility.
Serving anywhere and bringing hope and love to youth is the best prevention method I have learned about. It doesn’t have to be sex trafficking specific to fight sex trafficking. Find your local Boys and Girls Club. Serve them however they need. They are doing a lot more than you realize in your community. Same with your local YMCA, United Way, Youth for Christ or Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. All of these organizations are doing great work.
If you are in Snohomish County, where I live, here are a few organizations that are always looking for good volunteers. In this list below I have excluded the organizations I’ve already mentioned, but they are in our area as well don’t forget to look them up:
Casino Road Kids Ministry: They work with elementary-aged children on Casino Road. They serve with Homework Clubs and Bible Clubs. They also need people to serve meals three nights a week. They have been on Casino Road officially for about 11 years and unofficially for 18 years.
SEED Student Ministries: SEED helps the kids in Voyager Middle School and Mariner High School. They are always looking for leaders who are willing to come alongside youth and speak into their lives.
Cocoon House: They serve as outreach, housing, and prevention for runaway youth. They are an amazing organization that serve the emotional and physical needs of our youth.
Hand in Hand: Hand in Hand’s heart is to work with those who have been abused, neglected and marginalized. They have many different programs that serve our community.
Church youth groups: Youth groups are always looking for good people to help them out. This could be your opportunity to speak into the lives of our youth and build them up with hope and love.
Hope Works: They are a social enterprise that helps give job training and pathways to a living-wage job.
Everett Gospel Mission: One of my favorite organizations in Everett is the Gospel Mission. I have volunteered with them on and off for the last 7 years and have seen them do great work. They serve the homeless of our areas but also run amazing recovery programs; their community awareness programs about poverty are second to none.
Peoria Home: The organization that is closest to my heart is Peoria Home. I am on the board and also work as a volunteer for them. We provide sanctuary and support for women survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution.
I have left off several organizations that are helpful in prevention. If I did not mention them it was not intentional, and I would encourage you to get involved. Use your skills, gifts, and passion to be a help. You can serve the at-risk population or the organizations. Many of these organizations are looking for good board members and administrative help.
If you don’t want to dive into the work, you can give or raise funds. We are always looking for people to use their creativity to help raise funds. You can host a night on human trafficking dinner party at your home, use this material to talk about and raise money for a local organization. You can sell cookies. You can do garage sales or run campaigns to raise awareness and money for your favorite organization. All of the organizations above would love the support in this way. It is needed and welcome.
Please serve anywhere and in any capacity. If you do, you will be making a difference in the fight against sex trafficking. It can’t be said enough: your voice is needed and wanted in this fight. Bless your community through service.