Tag: richmond

Feature #1 of our New “How To” Series

“How to”…give to the mission of justice, even if you have no funds to contribute.

When fighting human trafficking, giving monetary support to organizations that already have the structure, the strategy, the connections and the “know-how” is a huge way to be an agent of change, but it is most certainly not the only way. While it is of paramount importance for nonprofits to receive donations to stay alive and strong, there are other ways to contribute to that nonprofit’s work without doing so financially.

  1. Spreading awareness is one of the most important keys to preventing trafficking situations. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all valuable tools in warning about potential dangers posed by traffickers as well as exposing that slavery still exists.  These platforms also can help connect people who want to donate to the organizations that could use their dollar for good.
  2. Becoming a Prevention Project Ambassador. We at RJI provide trainings for those wanting to bring life-saving information about human trafficking to middle and high schools, church youth groups, and youth programs. Trainings cover everything from important facts about human trafficking to the Prevention Project curriculum itself, how to implement the program and the impact it is having on students. Contact joell@rvaji.com if this sparks your interest!
  3. Prayer is the strongest force against human trafficking. Please remember to keep RJI and the work that we are doing with the Prevention Project® program in your prayers. If you are interested in becoming more active in preventing human trafficking, click here to sign up on our volunteer interest form and to receive our prayer updates.

Don’t be Afraid to Make a Difference this Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner! This year, when you make that annual trip to your local grocery store to purchase candy, consider purchasing Fair Trade certified* candy. Buying fair trade products is one step that we all can take towards preventing and ending human trafficking. Some local places that you can buy fair trade candy are listed below:

Whole Foods – 11173 West Broad Street, Glen Allen, VA 23060
Whole Foods carries a wide range of fair trade and equal exchange products. Pick up some fair trade peanut butter cups, gummy bears, fruit snacks, or lollipops to fill those Halloween baskets with!

Elwood Thompson’s – 4 N Thompson St, Richmond, VA 23221
There are plenty of fair trade chocolate bars and fair trade candies available for Halloween at Elwood Thompsons! Elwood Thompson’s mission is to carry locally made, fair trade and equal exchange products for their customers.

Ten Thousand Villages – 3201 West Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23221
Ten Thousand Villages is a great store located in the heart of Carytown. They have always been supporters of the Fair trade movement. Available at Ten Thousand Villages are Equal exchange mini chocolate pieces (25 cents each!)

If you can’t make a trip to one of the places above, here is a great website that sells equal exchange chocolates! Check out their mini chocolate pieces that are perfect for handing out on Halloween.

To learn more about responsible consumerism and for more shopping ideas, check out our Responsible Consumerism page on our website.

*Fair Trade: Responsible consumerism begins with an understanding that the products we buy and invest in affect the quality of life of people around the world. In today’s global society, there are services and products that are made both ethically and unethically, including slave labor (or labor trafficking). In order to be a responsible consumer, it is important to choose companies that not only care about human rights but also actively monitor the impact of their decisions on people, whether directly within their business or to the businesses to which they outsource. When choosing Fair Trade Certified products, you are supporting businesses that do not depend upon forced labor, among other human rights issues. To attain Fair Trade certification, businesses must adhere to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade. To find out more, please visit our partner page, FairTradeRVA

Written by: Grace Dobbs
RJI Intern

Fundraising: Partner Spotlight

Shopping and Making a Difference. Though these two concepts aren’t always found side by side – they are when talking about Fair Trade and this fundraiser!

This past month, Ten Thousand Villages hosted a two-hour fundraising shopping event, with a total of 20% of the proceeds donated to Richmond Justice Initiative. Thank you Ten Thousand Villages! While at this event, RJI staff and volunteers shared with shoppers about RJI, human trafficking facts and prevention, and how to get actively involved in the prevention and eradication of human trafficking!

One of the shoppers that day was a pre-teen named Grace. She asked us what RJI was raising awareness about. I quickly but carefully crafted an age-appropriate response, as I wanted it to resonate with her, but not frighten her. I briefly explained to her what trafficking is and about some of the methods that traffickers use to lure teens (as the average age of entry is 11-14 years old); she responded with the most impactful and touching question of the day: “I only have $.75 in my bag; can I donate it all to help?”

Humbled and inspired, I told her that her money would be going to help a very important cause. She smiled and hugged the Vicuna stuffed animal that had just been bought for her at the store.

Richmond Justice Initiative has partnered with Ten Thousand Villages Richmond, a Fair Trade Retailer, for several events in the past years. Our two organizations share many purposes in common, including anti-human trafficking. One of the principles of Fair Trade Certification is to ensure that no child or forced labor is used in producing goods. This means that whenever you shop Fair Trade, you can be certain that the source company went through a rigorous certification process that reflects 10 different principles. Because of this, RJI commends Fair Trade certification standards and other ways that businesses go to lengths to ensure no forced labor is used to produce any part of their products. This is why staff from both RJI and Ten Thousand Villages, among other organizations, also serve on the steering committee for Fair Trade RVA, a movement to get retailers and organizations in Richmond to carry Fair Trade products so that Richmond can be recognized as a ‘Fair Trade Town’.

The truth is, we can all make a difference. If you are inspired by Grace’s story and would like to make a difference as well, donate here to make an impact and write “Inspired by Grace” in the notes to seller section.

Written by: Jessica Willis
Richmond Justice Initiative Prevention Project Manager
Fair Trade RVA Steering Committee Member

Partnerships & Giving to a Cause

Richmond Justice Initiative is a faith-based organization. We value prayer as our recognition of our complete dependence on God. We believe in His provision, making way for all of our needs, in order to do the work of justice He has called us to. We are thankful for many individuals, organizations, and companies in our community and around the state of Virginia and beyond who have stepped up and supported RJI’s efforts in donating their time, energy, fundraising, or donating directly to our organization! This month we want to spotlight two organizations that have used their creativity to fund-raise on their own for RJI.

New Creation, a partner organization that fights human trafficking in the Shenandoah Valley, partnered with a local high school student to create the Light the Night 5K for his senior project to help raise funds for RJI’s signature teen anti-trafficking curriculum, Prevention Project program to be in schools in his area! The student led event had around 125 participants that enjoyed a walk/run around the beautiful campus, along with prizes donated by local businesses, giveaways, and a DJ dance party. The event was very successful and they have already had multiple students offer to lead the project next year. When raising awareness and funds in your community, Sabrina Dorman of New Creation says, “I would encourage youth to get involved, their passion and energy is contagious.

Ashley Topping, of Wells Fargo Advisors, Innslake Office, had personally been aware of and involved in the fight against human trafficking. When she became part of a group at Wells Fargo Advisors called IMPACT, she used the opportunity to educate her co-workers about human trafficking and the work RJI was doing in the community. When she made her team aware of the issue, there was an abundance of support to get RJI as the approved charity for their Spring Basket Fundraiser. Ashley said, “The topic may be uncomfortable to talk about, but if people don’t understand what is going on, how can they stand up to fight against it? The amount of people I was able to inform during our fundraiser week simply blew me away. There are so many who just have no idea what is happening, not just all over the world, but right here in our city.

During the Spring Basket Fundraiser, each department selected a basket theme and put the baskets on display for one week. Team members were able to purchase tickets for $1.00 to place in the basket of their choice that they would like to be eligible to win. At the end of the week, one name from each basket is drawn and the baskets are delivered to the winners. All the money raised from the raffle ticket sale is given to the chosen charity. RJI is honored to be the charity they chose this spring.

We have heard from and trust many of you would like to start your own funding campaign to support RJI. The power to help end human trafficking is in your hands and this is a great way to be creative and use your talents make a difference, and above all to serve the Lord. Please contact us at info@rvaji.com or check out or Action Menu for more ways you can raise awareness and funds at the same time to fight human trafficking in your city! You can also be a part of fundraisers that are currently being planned:

Hope Thrift Fundraiser, August 9, 10am-5:30pm

Chipotle, Eat for Change, August 11, 4-8pm

Amazing Raise, September 17-18

Broad Street Mile, September 20, 11:30am

Be sure to check out future features about fundraisers and donations, as we highlight them in upcoming newsletters!

By: Alisa Feliciano | RJI Volunteer

In-district meetings with Senators’ Offices

Friends of the International Justice Mission attended in-district meetings on August 17th, with representatives from both Senator Warner’s and Senator Webb’s offices. We went with the purpose of seeking the support from both Senators for the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), S.1301, and to encourage the Senators to facilitate the passage by the full Senate as quickly as possible. This landmark, bi-partisan legislation is set to expire by the end of September.

Our first visit was with Ms. Patrice Lewis, Outreach Representative for Senator Warner, followed by a later meeting with Ms. Louise Fontaine Ware, State Director for Senator Webb.  Both women were very attentive as we explained first, the magnitude of the sex trafficking issue not only worldwide, but in the United States, as well as here in our own state of Virginia. We then went on to discuss the importance of TVPRA in that it reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, originally passed in 2000. Certain amendments to the original Act were also highlighted. The Act would mandate greater collaboration in anti-trafficking strategy by the State Department regional bureaus and the overseas U.S. Embassies. “Child Protection Compacts” would be authorized for eligible countries so that they would receive additional U.S. assistance to end child trafficking. The Act would also offer increased protection for trafficking victims here in the United States. Additional points that were discussed were one, why U.S.  tax dollars should be allocated in the fight against modern-day slavery and  two, the importance of the Trafficking in Persons Office (TIP).

We ended our meetings encouraging each of the Senators to become a co-sponsor of the TVPRA.  Both offices expressed a genuine concern regarding the issue of sex trafficking, and that they would do what they could to support TVPRA.  – Tina Nyczepir

News from the Nefarious Screening

“God is highlighting the injustice of human trafficking in a pronounced way. I really believe that God is orchestrating a global awareness movement to draw people’s attention to this issue.  And one of the main reasons is so that we have begun to ask the question, “Why is this happening?””  Benjamin Nolot-President and Founder, Exodus Cry.

On July 24th, the Richmond Justice Initiative collaborated with Exodus Cry to present Nefarious at the Byrd Theater in Richmond. The evening included the movie screening and a local survivor’s story as well as commentary from Aaron of Exodus Cry and Sara Pomeroy, founder of the Richmond Justice Initiative.

The movie was shot in 19 different countries and 4 continents around the world and unveils the dark world of sex slavery in 30 different cities. Nefarious peers into the realm of where slaves are sold, where they work, and where they are held against their will.  Such evil happens not only in underdeveloped nations, but in prosperous ones as well.  This film presented viewers with first-hand interviews with real victims and traffickers while providing expert analysis from international humanitarian leaders.

The Byrd Theater was filled with hundreds of us who have been drawn by God asking “why?”  Our hearts were broken when Holly told us of her abduction.  Our minds were saturated with information and statistics from the film.  Our souls were lifted when survivors found restoration and yes, even joy, when they encountered the living God.

Before and after the film, we were photographed holding a bold statement in our hands:

Now, our question is “What can we do to end slavery?” One answer is to seek God’s direction in prayer.  I pray that God will send forth His Spirit to wake and rouse our allies and intercessors every day, rising up the full canopy of prayer and intercession to end slavery.

Another answer is to give generously, no.…. give until it hurts! – Ellen Andrusia



Sara attends IJM’s Global Prayer Gathering

The Global Prayer Gathering (GPG) began for me in my living room on Friday evening, watching Gary Haugen, Founder of International Justice Mission (IJM), give his session talk to the 1,000 attendees at the Sheraton Hotel in Tyson’s Corner and also the millions like me who were watching via Live Feed.

Gary Haugen shared that Psalm 37 encourages us to face the facts that the bare knuckle, smash mouth fight for justice around the world is REAL, and it is a matter of life and death. We were also encouraged to be patient fighters in prayer, and that when we pray we are releasing God’s power into the world by our asking. His talk was very inspiring, and the worship that followed moved me to tears. I could not wait until 5am when I would wake up and make my way in the darkness of the morning to Tyson’s Corner to join the GPG for the Saturday and Sunday sessions.

Upon arrival I was greeted by many who I call friends now from IJM, while also meeting many new faces from all over the USA who came together for the same purpose. To pray for those around the world who are in slavery and to pray with faith for the end of slavery in our lifetime.

The first session of the morning  began with my good friend Christa Hayden proclaiming that we will not win this fight for justice apart from God and His word and fellowship with Him. She implored us that we need to take evil seriously and we need to take God seriously. We need to pray with all boldness and fervency and that the victims of oppression, abuse and slavery deserve our faith filled fervent prayers for their release and freedom!

After the plenary session, attendees had an amazing chance to visit with every IJM field office in separate conference rooms throughout the hotel. Each room focused on a specific country that IJM was working in and had investigators from each respective country sharing real time prayer requests with attendees. Groups of attendees spent 30 minutes in each room as we prayed individually, in groups, out loud and cried out for freedom of prisoners, for safety for the investigators and for favor with the justice systems in those countries.

It was during one of the prayers sessions in the room representing Cebu, Philippines where God truly heard our prayers and performed a miracle. The investigator present received a text from Cebu that his team was undergoing a live investigation and the room began to fill with fervent prayers for the investigators involved with the mission and for the girls’ safety.

That evening while we were joined together once again for worship and prayer, the service was interrupted to announce that the mission was a success and that dozens upon dozens of girls were rescued from the LARGEST BROTHEL/KARAOKE BAR IN CEBU!! The roof about fell off when 1,000 voices began to praise God for his faithfulness and goodness!! It was amazing to be a part of that moment and I am still thanking God for His goodness and faithfulness. He truly does love justice and calls us to join His heart for it as well.

Sunday we were joined together for our last session where we took communion together and reflected on what God had done that weekend. I came back from that conference with a renewed heart, vision and understanding of the power and importance of prayer. Without prayer and daily fellowship with God, we will NOT win this battle for the ending of slavery in our lifetime.

Will you join in this fight?

– Sara Pomeroy, Director