#TeamMitchellBoys is raising awareness this month and also fund for Peoria Home. Peoria Home is just one place where we can put our deepening understanding to practice.
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If you’ve read this far, I hope that you know more about sex trafficking than you did before. There is power in knowledge and if we can turn knowledge into action, then we are using wisdom. I hope that you are not discouraged or overwhelmed by the problems that surround the local sex trade, rather you are ready to see where you can help. This is a community problem and is going to take a community to solve.
This next section will help you with tips and information on getting involved. There are going to be things that YOU can do. Areas where YOU can get involved. There is nothing to be nervous or fearful about. I want you to see that your life can make an impact. This section is filled with hope as much as it is information. If you have hope, then you can share it with others. We need your light in this fight against darkness.
This work, even if it isn’t easy, is filled with joy. There have been plenty of moments when I don’t have to wonder if I’m making a difference; I know I am. I am a white 40-year-old male, a husband and father, a pastor and community member. Many of the johns that have used these women as commodities fit that description and yet…I can be used for good and not for evil. I can be used to rebuild instead of breakdown. This brings me joy and the joy outweighs all the sorrows I have felt about sex trafficking.
A commitment to help ending sex trafficking will lead you down roads that you would have never expected. Since I started this work my life has been enriched by so many new experiences. It has led me into juvenile detention centers. I have been given the opportunity to speak to high school and middle school girls about prevention. To spend time and energy figuring out how to raise more money. My family has spent the last four years lighting a candle each day in December to share the hope we have for women still on the streets. I even wore a dress for 30 days in a row to raise money and did a 45-day weight loss where I got people to sponsor me per pound lost. This work has led me to speak to my kids and have deep conversations my wife. This work has only strengthened our relationship. It has taken me to Nashville to learn. I have read books that I would have never read. I have learned to go beyond sympathy and take a further step into action. It has led me to working with youth locally in mentoring. It has changed my worldview and my life in positive ways.
This work has also given me new heroes. I look up to the people who you will never hear about. People who give countless hours to help prevent sexual exploitation. People who use their life to speak hope and kindness into the darkest of situations. One of my heroes is Anne Arakaki-Lock. She is retired and yet is busy in her good works. I have never met anyone who so tirelessly works, without getting paid, to speak into troubled lives. She is a bright light who is shining love in juvenile detention centers. She is constantly working and figuring out how to help these kids regain their lives before it’s too late. She has hope and shares it. She is an amazing woman and I am privileged to call her friend because she is one of the best women in our community. You too will meet people who inspire you in this work. People who never were given a platform because they were too busy serving. My life has been greatly enriched by the new friends I have in this work.
This work will intrude on your life and take some of your energy, your time, your skills and your money. But this will not leave you poorer, you will feel richer because of your service. Every volunteer with whom I’ve ever worked with would tell you this same thing. If everyone understood how life-giving this was personally, we wouldn’t need more volunteers. You might have to get involved to see this truth.
During the pages to come please note where you could help. This may be your first step or your final push to get involved. Take your time and act slowly, finding out how you can get involved. You don’t need to jump in with both feet only to burn out. Find out where your skills, desires and passions fit into this work. We need you for the long haul. The issue of sex trafficking won’t be solved quickly and those of us doing this work need to be patient with you in finding your place. We want the right people in the right places.
I would encourage you to read the following section with an open heart. See where you fit and start to head in that directions. You may find out that you are already doing enough or discover a new area of service. Be open to being helpful only good will come of this. Work deliberately and steadily as this consistency will give us the energy to fight sex trafficking.
I have asked my friend Addie to share how this work has impacted her life. I know that she has been slowly getting involved to a point where she is a huge blessing to the community of Peoria Home. She has used her creativity and voice to stand up for those who don’t have one.
"The best friendships start slow, for me. It takes me several years to view someone’s character and trust them. In the case of Peoria Home, this has been true as well. I started volunteering and advocating for Peoria Home in 2016 with The Thrill of Hope, writing and posting daily pictures. Over the last few years and working on many projects, I have seen that Peoria Home is full of character and trust. The issues of sex trafficking and prostitution likewise have taken me a few years to understand more fully, in little bits and pieces. I still have a lot to learn. The women at Peoria Home are lovely and I think of them fondly. Being allowed to work in the garden at their home or visiting them at church has blossomed into friendship. They are my friends. I’m glad they get to live at Peoria Home for two years and afterward I can continue to be their friend. Friendship heals because it’s wrapped in love, and my heart is healed by seeing their hearts and minds and bodies heal."