Category: Blog

Blog updates from RJI Staff.

The Locust Effect

Join with Sara as she begins leading us through The Locus Effect journey.

Let’s learn to take a stand against everyday violence.

Read more about The Locust Effect here.

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Sara’s review of the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

“This book, no doubt, holds nothing back when Gary recounts the details that have resulted in the Locusts of violence that is overtaking the global poor all over the world in the first 3 chapters of this book. That said, the message is revolutionary, essential, and a call to action is clear. If the message is heeded and action is taken, there is a very present hope that the end of violence and poverty is possible. But we MUST move. All of us.”

RJI Justice Prayers

Join us in prayer for the victims, traffickers, johns, law enforcement, NGO’s, and the church.

These Justice Prayers can be your guide:

Pray for the Victims

For their strength & salvation
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
With your right hand you save me.
Psalm 138:7

For their protection, freedom and justice
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free
Psalm 146:7

For their hope and healing
But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds,’
declares the LORD,
‘because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.
Jeremiah 30:17

 

Pray for the Traffickers and Johns

For conviction, repentance and salvation
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:7

For criminal networks to dismantle

Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure – you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts. Psalm 7:9

For the oppressors to be arrested and prosecuted
This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

 

Pray for Law Enforcement

For protection
For divine strategy
For divine wisdom and insight
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

 As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. Psalm 18:30

 

Pray for Non-Governmental Organizations

For divine favor
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17

For divine wisdom
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

 

Pray for the Church

For the church to prevail
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Isaiah 60:1-2

For advocates and laborers to emerge
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

To unite against injustice
I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

TIP What!?

Every year, the State Department puts together a Trafficking in Persons report that details the state of human trafficking globally and where countries rank in combating trafficking.

The TIP report is the most comprehensive report on modern-day slavery in the world. It acts as leverage for legislation, a guide for governments and NGOs, and a highlights major problems hindering the elimination of slavery each year.
The U.S. government uses the report to direct funding for anti-trafficking efforts and engage with foreign governments over their efforts to end trafficking within their borders.

The State Department included the U.S. in its report for the first time in 2010, helping raise awareness about sexual exploitation and labor trafficking close to home and provide a catalyst for stronger anti-trafficking and victim protection laws.

The focus of this year’s report is victim identification. Last year, only 47,000 victims worldwide were identified, out of an estimated 27 million people trapped in slavery, according to the report.

Countries are ranked by tiers based on whether they comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the U.S. anti-trafficking law. Countries in tier 1 prohibit, punish and work to eliminate trafficking. Countries in tier 2 fall short in compliance with TVPRA, but are making an effort to prevent trafficking. Countries on the tier 2 watch list are at risk of being downgraded to a tier 3, the lowest rank reserved for countries who aren’t doing anything to punish or prevent trafficking.

Only 30 of the 188 countries in the report, including the U.S.,  are in tier 1 this year. Most fall in middle, with 92 countries in tier 2 and 44 on the tier 2 watch list. Twenty-one countries are in tier 3.

This year’s report, released in June, downgraded China, Russia and Uzbekistan to tier 3, a serious consequence of repeatedly failing to fix its trafficking laws and prevention efforts. More countries were downgraded than upgraded this year, according to testimony by Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large of the Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The TIP report can be a powerful tool for producing change in unresponsive countries’ trafficking laws and attitudes toward victims. According to International Justice Mission, Cambodia’s tier 3 ranking in 2002 for ignoring the exploitation of children allowed the U.S. government to threaten to cut foreign aid until the Cambodian government took notice and passed laws address child sex trafficking.

“This year has been especially notable because of the bravery of the decision to downgrade China and Russia and the report showing strong leadership and decisiveness on the rankings of several other countries, especially when we had heard that Tip was likely to show a softer line this year,” said Holly Burkhalter, vice-president of government relations and advocacy at International Justice Mission, according to the Guardian. “It shows that the Tip report is able to really be a champion of pushing governments to step up their anti-trafficking efforts and that it isn’t afraid to show leadership on this despite the political ramifications.”

By: Michal Conger

Human Trafficking Hotline Outreach

“On Saturday, July 20 multiple teams of men and women from across Richmond set out in an attempt to bring hope for justice to many forgotten areas of the region. Volunteers were given stickers and postcards from RJI with the national victims hotline for sex-trafficking. The goal was to approach a long list of gas stations and motels in areas known by local authorities to be hotspots for sex trafficking, due to their proximity to highways, areas of high crime, and poverty.

Equipped with a list of addresses, we made our first stop. We were assigned to a list of gas stations on Jeff-Davis Highway, which runs parallel to I-95 right up to the city. Other teams were assigned to different parts of town. It’s funny how quickly your own city changes when you just cross the street. We stopped at something like 10 gas stations and motels down a strip hardly over two miles long. What surprised us was not the difference in cultures or lifestyles or commodities being sold – we already knew that trafficking was an issue in the area. What surprised us both was that everyone else knew, too.

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How do you stop something like that? We spoke with a handful of shop owners and expected many of them to be concerned about posting stickers in their business that might draw unwanted attention. Instead, every single person that we spoke with was not only aware of the issue but was equally insulted by it.

“Can you get me a bigger sign?”
“Do you have extra stickers you can leave here?”
“Yes, I saw it happen a few days ago on this street”

So this is where the conversation starts. Maybe we can help those who are on the front lines of this injustice by giving them the tools they need – a phone number, a website, or some sort of resource where they know that they can start a domino-like string of events that will (because it will) mean intercession and rescue for victims of sex-trafficking.”

By: Anne Taylor Robertson
Outreach Participant

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Advocating on Captial Hill for Victims of Trafficking

RICHMOND RESIDENT JOINS INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION

TO ADVOCATE FOR VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AT U.S. CAPITOL

 

RICHMOND, VA (June 12, 2013) – Richmond resident, Sara Pomeroy returned home late Tuesday evening from Washington D.C. after meetings with the Virginia Congressional delegation. Sara was among 250 individuals from 40 states who took part in a day of advocacy organized by human rights agency International Justice Mission (IJM).  Participants met with more than 210 Congressional offices to build support for strong U.S. policies to combat trafficking and slavery at home and abroad.

 Pomeroy and fellow advocates from Virginia advocated for passage of the “Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” which elevates the authority of the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office—a U.S. government agency dedicated to combating human trafficking.  U.S. citizens’ interest in eradicating slavery has kept the issue high on the political agenda in Washington for the past decade.  In recent years, the existence of proven anti-slavery models has equipped advocates with data and success stories to encourage Members of Congress and Senators from across the political spectrum to support increased investment in anti-trafficking programs.

 Human Trafficking has been, for me, a 3.5 year long fight and this day was a huge victory in what will be a long, hard fight in years to come on a local and federal level. I was encouraged to have over 40 other Virginian’s join me at the Capitol and I expect there will be even more during Virginia General Session. I know that people in Richmond care about modern-day slavery, but we often feel overwhelmed by the problem. Knowing that it is possible to combat crime has given me the confidence to advocate for strong policies and funding with our elected leaders in government,” said Pomeroy.           

 All government agencies have faced budget cuts in the face of sequestration, making citizen support for US government programs to combat slavery more important than ever. “When it comes to fighting human trafficking, a relatively small amount of money goes an extremely long way,” said Holly Burkhalter, vice president of government relations at IJM.  “The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons office makes grants that save lives and build international capacity to end human trafficking. The office should be made a full-fledged State Department Bureau, in order to best represent the interests of the most vulnerable people in the world – slaves and trafficking victims.”

 Organizations like IJM are seeing significant improvements in public justice systems protecting the poor and preventing slavery, even over short periods of time.  In just four years of collaboration with local authorities in Cebu, the Philippines, IJM has seen the number of minors available in the commercial sex trade reduced by 79 percent. Private investment by Google.org for IJM’s anti-slavery work in India has enabled a dramatic expansion of the organization’s work there from 9 to 50 states in the country, resulting in the freeing of nearly 1,000 bonded labors in just ten months.

 “There is much work to be done, and this urgent, transformative work is worthy of U.S. government investment,” said Pomeroy. “I am hopeful that the success we had today on the hill will be a reflection of future success in Virginia General Assembly.

 IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals secure justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. In the past year alone, IJM has brought rescue to more than 2,400 victims of violence and injustice. For more information about International Justice Mission visit www.ijm.org.

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Governor McDonnell Encourages RJI

This past month, at John Hopkins University, our own Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spoke about the issue of human trafficking and who is fighting this issue worldwide and in the state of Virginia. RJI was amongst those honored to be mentioned!

Remarks of Governor Bob McDonnell

Meeting the Needs of Child Trafficking Survivors Symposium

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore

May 1, 2013

Introduction

  • “I want to thank the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Advisory Council on Child Trafficking (ACCT) and the Goldman Sachs Foundation for making this event happen
  • And I want to applaud the President and his Administration for making this issue a national focus and priority
  • I also want to specifically thank  Autumn (Vandehei) for her work on today’s symposium, and everyone who has made this happen
  • Human trafficking is a national tragedy
  • It’s also sadly the kind of crime that because it is so painful to talk about, so devastating to its victims, and so at odds with everything we value in our society, we as a culture have a hard time even talking about it, much less addressing it
  • Let’s be honest: we don’t want to admit human trafficking is happening here because it doesn’t fit our idea of what this nation is
  • But we can’t confront this evil unless we talk about it. Study it. Fight it.
  • We have to bring it out into the open and declare that there is no place in this nation for human trafficking and that we will stand up for victims and go after those who have hurt them with the full force and weight of the law
  • And that is what you are doing today

This Problem is In Your City and Your County, and It’s In My Commonwealth

  • First, every American needs to know this: human trafficking is not something you can only see on a 60 Minutes special
  • Human trafficking is happening in or near where you live.
  • And the more we realize that human trafficking is here, the more we will find the solutions and the will to confront this evil
  • Let me tell you: human trafficking is happening in Virginia
  • In the past months federal authorities convicted an MS-13 leader, who played a role in operating the gang’s large juvenile prostitution ring in Northern Virginia and Maryland. The leader was sentenced to 17 years in prison last month.
  • About a year ago, another MS-13 gang member was sentenced to 50 years in prison for recruiting girls as young as 14 from middle schools, high schools, and homeless shelters in northern Virginia and forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts on behalf of the gang.
  • Human trafficking is real, and the victims are our friends, family and neighbors…., and, sadly, our children

What Virginia Has Done

  • I am pleased to say that in Virginia we have not stood by while this evil has taken place
  • We have, Republicans and Democrats together, acted
  • The Virginia General Assembly has a broad bipartisan group of legislators who are passionate about fighting human trafficking.
  • That bipartisan cooperation has made our progress possible
  • In the last few years, we’ve moved up two spots out of a possible four in the Polaris Project’s ranking of state laws.   If Virginia wasn’t a common law state, my guess is, we’d be at the top of the rankings.
  • We’ve done this by passing important, bipartisan, legislation over the past few years.
  • We’ve passed legislation in Virginia to:
  1. Make it a felony to abduct a minor for the purpose of the manufacture of child pornography or prostitution
  2. Require the posting of the national human trafficking hotline in strip clubs and truck stops
  3. Require our Department of Criminal Justice Services to advise law enforcement agencies on human trafficking issues
  4. We’ve required the Department of Social Services to develop a service plan for victims of human trafficking
  5. We’ve mandated that our State Board of Education, with assistance from the Department of Social Services, provide awareness and training materials for local school division staff on human trafficking, including strategies for the prevention of trafficking of children
  6. And we’ve increased penalties for solicitation of prostitution from a minor.
  • This was the result of legislators and leaders from both parties
  • They got results
  • But, as you well know, government cannot win this fight alone

The Importance of Citizen and Community Involvement

  • Like any great effort in America success will only be fully achieved through the involvement of citizens in every community
  • When citizens and community groups get involved and stand up, like you’re doing today, we will end trafficking once and for all
  • In Virginia we have great organizations on the front lines of this fight, complimenting the work done by investigators and prosecutors.
  • Organizations like the Richmond Justice Initiative which was started in 2009 by a young woman in her 20s named Sara Pomeroy.
  • Sara [and her staff] built this grassroots organization person by person, from the ground up to bring awareness and education to the issue of human trafficking.
  • [RJI] started a program called the Prevention Project, where they teach middle and high school students about the warning signs of Human Trafficking.
  •  To date, hundreds of middle and high school students have received awareness/action message and are equipped to fight against this awful crime.
  • Another organization, the Gray Haven Project has already treated 20 victims of human trafficking and is in the planning stages to open Central Virginia’s first safe house for trafficked women.
  • Courtney’s House was started in 2008 by human trafficking survivor Tina Frundt.  In just five years, they have worked with over 500 victims of human trafficking, helping them to escape this cycle of violence and ensuring they have a good place to land when starting their new life.

Conclusion: Next Steps

  • The complexities and enormity of this crime may lead some to become overwhelmed with despair.  How can we possibly eliminate the forced exploitation of 27 million people in the world? How can we truly help the child victims of this horrendous crime?
  • One of the most tenacious warriors in the war on human trafficking is Gary Haugen
  • And I know that Holly Burkalter is with us today from International Justice Mission- Holly thank you for the work your group is doing
  • Gary says “The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience.”
  • Gary is right
  • We must fight on.
  • First, we must find ways to treat the victims as victims and the criminals as criminals and not vice versa
  • No one should ever be stigmatized or diminished or put down because they are a victim!
  • In clear cases of human trafficking, we need to be clear that the trafficker and the buyer are the criminals
  • Women, men, and children, who are forced to have sex with strangers against their will are not criminals.
  • The demand side of human trafficking must be addressed in a real and meaningful way.
  • We must continue to work across jurisdictions to ensure that we have a collaborative approach to fighting the bad guys.
  • We must continue to train law enforcement to recognize the signs of human trafficking, a difficult task when victims are often brainwashed, scared and even, at times, defiantly on their trafficker’s side.
  • We must train law enforcement to ask the right questions, in the right ways, at the right times so that the victim can finally get the freedom she may not realize she wants
  • Once that freedom is realized, we must treat the unique scars caused by the repetitive trauma of trafficking
  • The ripping apart of one’s identity and dignity, accompanied by unspeakable pain create some of the most challenging treatment scenarios one can imagine.
  • We must continue to warn our daughters and sons about online vigilance.
  • This work will not be easy
  • But you have set yourselves to it
  • You are making a difference
  • Symposiums like today’s, bipartisan cooperation like we’ve see in Virginia, leadership at the national level like we’ve seen from this President, citizens getting involved like Sara Pomeroy in Richmond, this is how we will end human trafficking, care for its child victims, and make this nation a better and safer place
  • Thank you, and God Bless You for the work that you are doing”

We are grateful for his kind words & recognition of modern day human trafficking.

Interning With RJI

Non-Profit Internship

Through my semester internship with Richmond Justice Initiative, I am learning about the importance of educating others. It seems like such a simple notion, but when it comes to the issue of human trafficking, many people are unaware of how prevalent it has become in our modern world, and they believe instead that slavery is completely obsolete.

Personally, when I saw “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” a year and a half ago, I was completely naive to the existence of human trafficking. I had no way of foreseeing how the film would alter not only my career goals, but my life passions as well. I now value the importance of knowledge on these significant issues more than I ever have before, which is why one of my primary objectives as a Richmond Justice Initiative intern is to educate my fellow peers.

I chose to show the documentary “Sex + Money: A National Search for Human Worth” as an awareness event on the University of Richmond campus.  The documentary focuses on the mission of photojournalists traveling across the United States in hopes of understanding how the sexual exploitation of children has become such a growing form of organized crime and such a despicable human rights violation.

I collaborated with three student organizations, as well as various professors to promote the event. The event turned out to be extremely successful, with over sixty guests attending. The documentary event was even featured in our Collegian Newspaper. As a next step for viewers to take action, I announced the upcoming national campaign event “Stand for Freedom” on the University of Richmond campus, which I am helping to organize with former RJI intern Joell Maisano, and President of S.S.T.O.P Bethany Marcelle. We hope to have the same turn out as we did for this documentary event and even greater!

My internship experience with the Richmond Justice Initiative has been extremely rewarding. I have enjoyed dedicating my time to planning events on the University of Richmond’s Campus, assisting at RJI hosted events, as well as becoming overall more informed on the prevalence of human trafficking. Richmond Justice Initiative is truly a remarkable organization to be a part of, and I am honored that I have had the opportunity to work with such a sincere group of individuals.

Cara Mikkelson, Junior at University of Richmond

HUGE Thank You to the Benefit for Freedom Volunteers

554997_598472196848300_864519215_nTo All Benefit Volunteers:

Wow! What  a night! If I could sing your praises any louder to anyone anywhere who can hear me they’d be telling me to be quiet. You did an amazing job and made RJI’s 2nd Annual Benefit for Freedom a HUGE success!

There were almost 50 of you involved in pulling off the event that Monday night – not to mention those who were involved in preparing for the event ahead of time. We started with six ladies who tore down over 500 chairs in the sanctuary and set up the 28 tables. Followed by salt and pepper shaker fillers, centerpiece preparers, silent auction and registration table teams. Then came the kitchen staff and servers – 50 of you taking care of serving over 200 people in record time – and finished out with a small clean up crew who made Hope Church look spotless!

I learned so much throughout the day from each of you – thanks to those of you who had suggestions on how to make the day go smoothly. I really appreciated your expertise.

I would like to ask for your feedback about the event so that we can have things run even smoother for next year. Please let me know the answers to the questions below:

– What did you enjoy about volunteering at the Benefit?

– Would you do it again next year? Would you be willing to bring a friend

   along to join you?

– What can we do better to have it be more enjoyable for you as a volunteer?

– As far as the organization of you as the volunteers and of the event, what

   could I have done better to communicate expectations and  job

   responsibilities to you?

– For those of you who attended, was the orientation helpful and informative?

– Please share any other suggestions or praises that you have.

It was truly a privilege to work with each and every one of you. Your service has made a difference in the fight against human trafficking. There were a lot of people who attended the Benefit who were hearing about human trafficking for the very first time, and you took care of some very influential people in the Richmond community. I would like to recognize two volunteers who truly went above and beyond – Fay Chelmow and Erin Kimminau. These two dedicated ladies arrived first thing in the morning the day of the event and stayed until the very end.

I hope I get to work with you again in the future! God bless all of you for your hard work in the battle against human trafficking!

~ Sandy White, Administrative Assistant/Benefit Volunteer Coordinator

 

RJI Benefit for Freedom – A Real Success

45197_598472023514984_2093669980_nFinally, the big night arrived. Months of endless hours planning, organizing, searching, designing, practicing, requesting, calling, and even taste testing….and now all that remained was the excitement of watching it all come together. When I first arrived at Hope Church where the RJI Benefit for Freedom was held, I was greeted by nothing but smiling faces. The joy of just playing a part in the whole event showed from Sara Pomeroy’s face, to the RJI staff members, to the student volunteers who would serve that evening. This was a night to further educate others on the issue of human trafficking, to explain to those attending what Richmond Justice Initiative was doing to combat the problem, and to show the audience how they too could play a part in putting an end to this great evil. Though the night concerned a dark and ugly subject – modern day slavery – it was to be a night which brought a message of great hope. Modern day slavery CAN be totally and completely eradicated!

The night began with a silent auction. The items donated were displayed in the grand foyer for people to explore and bid on as they entered the church. There was everything from tickets to see the Washington Redskins and Nationals play, spa treatments, art work, gift certificates to local restaurants, home décor and photography sessions to name just some of items up for auction. Bidding ended promptly at 7p.m. With that, table sponsors and their guests were then ushered into the sanctuary where they would dine for the evening. Atlee Music, led by Ross Wright, performed while everyone took their seats at the simply but beautifully decorated tables.

Elisabeth Scaife, Director of Training for Shared Hope International, opened the evening with a few words about the issue of human trafficking. She ended by introducing RJI Director, Sara Pomeroy who provided the welcome and opening remarks. The Invocation was given by Nicole Unice, Ministry Associate at Hope Church – then dinner was served. The meal this year was prepared by Firehouse Catering and a cake pop dessert was prepared by Neet’s Sweet Bakery. Firehouse Catering is part of the Boaz and Ruth ministry – a ministry that largely works with those who have been formerly incarcerated in helping them to restore their lives once they are released, through job training and relationship building. For further information on this ministry: https://www.boazandruth.com/index.cfm.

How appropriate that Neet’s Sweets should prepare the dessert. Neet’s Sweets is a bakery owned by sex trafficking survivor, Antonia Childs. Antonia uses her business to help “survivors of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and provide them with programs and services to get them back on the right track.” To learn more about Antonia’s ministry: https://www.neetssweets.com/index.html.

Our guest speaker for the night was Corban Addison, author of the novel, A Walk Across the Sun. The novel is a “chilling, suspenseful and powerful” story – a story that addresses the modern slavery issue. Corban is a gifted storyteller with a passion for human rights issues such as the abolition of human trafficking. I loved hearing his telling of how the book idea came about and the efforts that were needed to bring it to fruition. As a result of the research he did to prepare for the writing of the novel, Corban brings a wealth of information about the problem of human trafficking. Yet with the understanding of the enormity of the problem, Corban still brought a message of hope that human trafficking CAN be eradicated. He discussed what would be needed to bring it to an end – such as addressing the cultural thinking that brought it into existence and encourages it to continue even today.

The biggest highlight of the evening for me, was RJI’s – first ever – honoring of the Freedom Maker Award. This award is given to an individual the organization feels made a huge impact in the fight against human trafficking in the state of Virginia. This year, the award went to Chief Doug Middleton of the Henrico Police Department. Chief Middleton stated that he was honored to have received the Freedom Maker Award. “‘This recognition is a result of a total team effort and partnership between our partners in the federal agencies and the men and women of the Henrico County Police Division’, said Chief Middleton.

One of the biggest accomplishments in 2012 for RJI, was the creation of a very successful Prevention Program that was piloted at Hermitage High School. One special student, Danielle Haden, spoke about what the program meant to her – how hearing the truth about human trafficking affected her life. She then introduced the Prevention Project documentary that summarized what had occurred throughout the thirteen week program. I feel this documentary did a beautiful job of demonstrating the level of involvement that RJI desires to play just in the “Prevention” aspect of their mission statement. This documentary will give other schools interested in the program a great overview of what the project is about, and the impact it can have on the young people who participate in the program. An army of modern day abolitionists will be the end result.

The Benefit for Freedom was a wonderful success due, by and large, because of the dedication and efforts of three staff members – Heather Tobey, Cynthia Garber, and Sandy White who organized the event. Also, the many individuals who came forward and volunteered their time to serve at the event helped to make the evening flow so smoothly. I was pleased to hear those I had invited tell me what an enjoyable time they had and how grateful they were to become better educated on the issue of human trafficking. As a result of this event, we look forward to having more people in the community partner with us to rid our city – our state – of human trafficking. ~ Christina Nyczepir, RJI Social Media Administrator

Volunteers Needed For Benefit for Freedom Event

On Monday, March 18th, Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI) will hold its 2nd Annual Benefit for Freedom at Hope Church (6-7pm Silent Auction & 7pm Event). The purpose of the event is to share the amazing things that God is doing through RJI, educate people about atrocities of Human Trafficking and to raise funds to continue our work toward ending Modern Day Slavery.

Last year we held our first benefit and it was a HUGE success – it was a huge success because we had fantastic volunteers who worked tirelessly before, during and after the event. People couldn’t believe that it was our first ever benefit!

We want our 2nd Annual Benefit for Freedom to be even better, but that can only happen with the help of our dedicated, resourceful and energetic volunteers. THAT’S YOU!!
50-75 VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED BETWEEN NOW AND MARCH 18TH TO HELP WITH THE FOLLOWING:
BEFORE the Event:
  • Outgoing and energetic people to solicit donations for the silent auction (One of our biggest needs right now!)
  • Outgoing and energetic people to solicit sponsorships for the event (One of our biggest needs right now!)
  • Creative volunteers to design and create centerpieces for the tables
  • Volunteers with cars to pick up items (i.e.: silent auction items, paper goods, items from Sams/Costco)
 THE DAY of the Event:
  • 2 Volunteers with access to trailers and/or trucks to pick up tables from other locations, transport them to Hope Church and return them after the event
  • 10 or more volunteers to set up the event hall with tables and chairs (9am-12pm – Lunch will be provided)
  • 5 Volunteers to decorate the tables (3-5pm)
  • 5 Creative and energetic people to setup the silent auction tables (2-4pm)
  • 5 Responsible and friendly people to man the silent auction tables during the event (5:30-6:30) –Please wear business attire
  • 10 Water/Iced Tea servers (during the event) – Please wear black pants and a white shirt
  • 40 Servers (we will need to serve 300 people in a matter of minutes during the dinner portion of the event) – Please wear black pants and a white shirt
  • 18 people to greet, direct people, work the registration and name tag tables, work the photo booth during the event – Please wear business attire
  • 20 Volunteers to help tear down and clean up after the event
We will be holding a VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION at Hope Church on Saturday, March 9th from 1-2:30pm.
If you are interested in soliciting donations for the silent auction, please email Cynthia Garber at cggarber@gmail.com .
If you are interested in volunteering, please email justicerva@gmail.com with:
  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • Area you are willing to help volunteer in
  • RSVP for the Volunteer Orientation letting me know if you are able to come or not
I look forward to hearing from and working with you to make this Benefit a HUGE success. ~ Sandy White, RJI Staff Member