Tag: virginia

Feature #2 of our New “How To” Series

“How to” …make a difference: fund-raise while tailoring to your interests!

As RJI has been extending our reach, we have been making plans to build our staff and bolster our annual curriculum updates. This type of organizational development allows us to provide excellent prevention materials to schools that are relevant and poignant, able to offer real prevention and lasting change. Here is the hard truth: we cannot do any of this growing without funding! In this season especially, we are encouraging everyone who wants to protect our nation’s youth to join our fund development effort.

Fundraising is not arbitrarily asking for money through gritted teeth, but rather inviting people into something they can be proud to be a part of. You are the bridge between donors and the good/meaningful work they want to put their dollar to.

No matter your experience in fundraising, you can be a part of our effort to garner support for RJI’s work! Dig deep into your background and your interests and pinpoint what it is you are good at, and what makes your heart skip a little faster with excitement. These passions and talents allow you to offer something unique to the mission- do not let them go to waste! Below are a couple of examples, but feel free to create your own, with all proceeds going to RJI. -If you love to cook, host a dinner party! Invite your friends and let them know that the proceeds benefit the Prevention Project program for teens! Charge for entry: only 15 friends at $30 a head raises a quick $450!

-If your passion is “DIY” crafts, buy some art supplies or old curious and repurpose it into something beautiful to sell to others!

-Do we have any exercise guru’s? Plan a day to lead a large group exercise class,  and advertise the Prevention Project to friends and community, accepting a donation of any type for class admittance.

-Have a special event coming up?  Celebrate your special occasion with us! We’re launching a new opportunity where you can invite others to celebrate with you by donating to RJI for your special occasion – your birthday, anniversary, holiday gift, graduation, mother’s day, father’s day, etc.! EVERY gift makes a huge impact in the lives of students! The image above is yours to use (or email us if you would like a larger size image), if you so choose, and you can link directly to our website in your ask: https://richmondjusticeinitiative.com/donate/

Thank you for helping us reach more students by raising funds in a way only YOU can!

Pictured above: Use the graphic above (or email us if you would like a larger size image) on your special occasion to raise awareness and funds for the Prevention Project!  Creativity is endless – how will you make a difference?

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



Human Trafficking Central Virginia Working Group meets with FBI, Police, and Homeland Security

On May 6th, 2011, the Human Trafficking of Central Virginia Working Group met with the FBI, police, and Homeland Security at the Richmond FBI field office.  Main speakers included Stuart Petro from the State Crime Commission, Erin Kulpa from the Attorney General’s Office, Peggy Roberts from Homeland Security, and Brian Hood, a civil rights investigator.

Stuart Petro reported the results of his research on the human trafficking issue in Virginia.

Erin Kulpa conducted a thorough analysis of current Virginia anti-trafficking laws, including § 18.2- 47(B) Abduction for Forced Labor, § 18.2-59 Extortion, § 18.2-356 Receiving money for procuring person, § 18.2-48 Abduction, § 18.2-346(B) Solicitation of prostitution, § 18.2-347 Keeping, residing in or frequenting a bawdy place (brothel), § 18.2-348 Aiding prostitution, § 18.2-349 Using vehicles to promote prostitution, § 18.2-355 Taking person for prostitution , or consenting thereto, § 18.2-356 Receiving money for procuring person, § 18.2-357 Receiving money from earnings of prostitute, § 18.2-374.1 Production of child pornography, and others.  Ms. Kulpa reminded those in attendance that while none of these laws use the words “human trafficking,” they are all useful tools in arresting and prosecuting human traffickers.

Peggy Roberts spoke about human trafficking from an illegal immigration vantage point.  She explained the differences between the S, T, and U visas, which could be used to help victims of trafficking.  She also shared a couple personal stories regarding forced labor that she has seen while on the job.

Brian Hood covered many court cases that have helped define the issue of human trafficking, some of which he had worked on.  Some of the cases included: U.S. v. Sabhanin, U.S. v. Farrell, U.S. v. Ubeozor, U.S. v. Afolabi, and a RICO case U.S. v. Askarkhodjaev.

The meeting was closed by the FBI and plans are in the works for the next Working Group meeting.


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

Not I but Christ….

I think that most days we make it without having to rely on God to get us through the day, or so we think; we go about our days with our to do lists, and if you are like me its all in your head. April 12 gave me a whole new perspective of what it meant to walk in His strength…..  A few months ago the alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta asked RJI to come and speak at their Spring Forum, I agreed to be the speaker.  The two days before the forum I used every available moment (which don’t come often) to prepare; because I am not a stranger to speaking in front of people I wasn’t terribly nervous but I have to say I always get a little shaken up before I speak, so I needed to be sure I had everything mapped out. The nature of an all volunteer organization makes it impossible to pay the bills without another job, and mine happens to be working with small children, while they are sleeping I focus on RJI.  That day we could not get the presentation to download to my computer, I found out that the location was moved and we would no longer have power point capabilities so I would have to completely change my approach, and the children didn’t sleep as long as I hoped they would so I was trying to figure all of this out while taking care of them….. I also had to figure out how to get to the other side of town during rush hour in less than 45 minutes….. It’s interesting that the deeper we all get into this issue of advocating for those that do not have a voice of their own the more we see the hand of God guiding us and opening doors we could have never imagined. In the midst of all the craziness and with the help of Anna Hurley I figured out the technological problems changed up my speaking approach and got there on time. On the way there I found myself asking God to be with me and to guide the presentation, because on top of everything else I wasn’t feeling well and I knew that I needed His strength to get me through.  When I got there I learned that my fellow speakers were a Virginia senator, a judge, and the president of a well known advocacy organization on Virginia…..  Needless to say I felt a little out of place, thankfully, I didn’t learn any of that until we were introduced so I didn’t really have time to let my nerves get the best of me.  During the presentation I mentioned our core values: awareness, education, advocacy, prevention and prayer, I expounded on the ways that we are living them out in what we do at RJI.  When I talked about the advocacy piece I mentioned the bills that we presented at our lobby day back in February and are waiting to be signed by the Governor, then I went on with each of the other values.  After the presentation the senator who was sitting next to me leaned over and asked if those bills would put Virgina where we need to be as far as our laws against human trafficking; since I also mentioned that Virginia is one of the states in the country with the worst laws against slavery. I told him that they were a good start but they were not enough, and then I remembered that I earlier that day in the midst of all the commotion I printed the bills out and had them with me! ( I normally don’t do that because I try and do my part for the planet and all)  I highlighted the bills and handed them to the senator and he asked if he could keep them, and I said yes sir!  We had a time of question and answer that went really well, at the end of the forum the president of the chapter got up and said that she was shocked that this was an issue in our city.  After the meeting was over the president of the well known advocacy center came up to me and said, “The senator and I would like to work with your organization.” He went on to tell me about some of the “small” issues that they took on and brought to light in the community, he also went on to tell me about the church connections that would be available to us because of their connections. It was a success!  The more I reflected on this event the more I realized that it was not because I am this amazingly charismatic speaker (which I can assure you I am not) or because the information was terribly compelling, it was because we serve a God of justice that is committed to rescuing the weak and this is His fight not ours, it is His strength, power and vision that we depend on and that empowers us to “Love mercy, Do Justice and walk humbly with our God”.

-Lea Whitehurst, Church Partnership Coordinator

February & March FACE

The past couple months with FACE have been so much fun and this semester is flying by!

In February, we focused on injustice from several different perspectives. First the students discussed how they see injustice in their own lives and then we shared a video of a Florida teenage girl’s own story of trafficking. We also talked about different fundraising options and had them be the first contributors to their school collage.

A few weeks ago we held our March FACE meeting, which focused on legislative advocacy. Everyone’s favorite teaching tool, School House Rock, taught us how a bill becomes a law and then one of our student volunteers from the University of Richmond expanded upon the lesson and facilitated our Q&A for the day. We also learned how to find out who our legislators are and then Janet Polarek, Secretary of the Commonwealth, taught our students how to write a letter to their representatives. At the end of the day all of the students worked together to write thank-you posters to Gov. McDonnell in preparation for him signing the three recent VA human trafficking bills.