Our staff just tackled another busy week here at the office...
This past week has been a busy one – but that’s just pretty usual for us here at End Slavery Tennessee!
Our 2015 gift card campaign concluded with the end of January but we have seen many gift cards streaming into the office since then. We had a count of 43 gift cards from our very own Franklin volunteer group alone!
Recently, special visits to the office included:
- Kate Trudell met with most of our staff. She is the Executive Director of Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CCAHT) and is hoping to build up her organization focused in Knoxville. We enjoyed getting to know each other and sharing info and resources to help the CCAHT grow well without having to start from scratch!
- FBI met with Lizedny and one of our survivors who is ready to cooperate with law enforcement and empower themselves in this way.
- Jerry Redman and staff from Second Life of Chattanooga stopped in for lunch so we could talk together about successes and new developments among our organizations and how we can better assist one another in our common mission to eradicate slavery in our state.
- Clarice Grooms and Clarice Parsons of the Nashville volunteer group worked tirelessly to help put together end of year tax letters to donors.We're happy they had so many to send!
- Christina Stevens dropped off a bunch of Valentine’s Day bags full of goodies for all our survivors. She and the women of the Bible study group from Fellowship Bible Church really know how to lavish our girls, women, and men with unconditional love!
Survivors also frequented our office recently including new referrals, survivors starting therapy, job searching/applying, and a few who popped in just to say hello!
We also have some sad news: Survivor Services \Coordinator (SSC) Lizedny De la Rosa, turned in her resignation. She is relocating; her husband has a new job out of the country. We wish blessings upon her in this next chapter of her life.
We're now looking forward to get to know two new members of our team, new SSCs starting next week – Jennifer Settle and Yvette White. We feel sure you will enjoy getting to know them too.
Lonely and depressed,
inadequate and worthless.
Please, even one friend?
Online chatting fills
this void in my heart. He says
that he “treasures” me.
We plan to meet soon.
Friday at a street corner.
We’ll ride in his car.
So, we meet at eight.
But his face does not show the
worth he made me feel.
I’m locked in the car.
Not one man, but two up front.
Confusion and fear.
Later, a basement.
Both my body and my soul
in chains. I am drugged.
If I tell, they kill
my family. No escape.
Stuck in a nightmare.
Selling my body,
twelve times a day. What happened?
Acceptance and love?
I feel as if I
merely watch myself living
this hell in a dream.
Hope does not exist.
But wait, too good to
be true. He is arrested:
the man who constrains!
I have never been
so glad to be taken. I
go to a shelter.
Seven years of dark.
I am now given freedom
to speak, act, and live.
Freedom, choices, life.
Never valued these more than
now. Goodbye to force!
For rescue, refuge,
safety, my forever thanks
to End Slavery.
It’s been a little while since we’ve had an office update so I guess it’s about time for a recap:
- This month, as you know from all our social media, is National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. We partnered across the state with Second Life of Chattanooga and Restore Corps to UNITE under the common fight against human trafficking. We are also encouraging the donation of gift cards this month as these are truly helpful in providing immediate care to new referrals and support to our survivors.
- Our office has gone GREEN – and I don’t mean the environmentally friendly term…it’s literally green! Hannah Kersey is remodeling our front office and lobby area as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. We are excited to see the end result!
- This month we have two interns, Sarah Stell and Ellie Davidson, who are helping keep ESTN up and running while also getting a taste of the work our direct services staff does each and every day. Sarah is a senior social work major at Belmont and will be with us all semester. Ellie is a senior at Harpeth Hall doing a two week mini-internship.
- We also recently hired two new team members and have contracted a third: Angela Shofner is our new part-time Volunteer Manager who will be freeing up our Director of Education, Karen Karpinski, to focus on trainings. Jennifer Settle will be our new Survivor Services Coordinator and working directly with our other direct services team and our survivors, of course. Finally, Allison Gibson is our new contracted part-time therapist from The Next Door who will be conducting in-house therapy sessions for some of our survivors.We are very excited to have all these wonderful ladies joining us and can’t wait to see how each will help strengthen End Slavery Tennessee and those we work with!
- We would also like to thank Sandra and Ken McDonald for their wonderful work to remodel one of our office rooms into a brand new therapy room. It’s cozy, inviting, and we hope it will be a room where wounds can be healed and restorative steps can be made.
Our staff has been very busy working to make End Slavery Tennessee more efficient, effective and a true model for restoration for human trafficking survivors:
- Derri has been meeting with organizations, individuals and community leaders to develop or expand partnerships and local resources. She is also preparing for her upcoming debut as a Tedx Talk speaker at TPAC on March 21rst, so look for more details in the future!
- Karen has been busy training both new volunteers and community leaders and organizations to bring awareness to those who have not opened their eyes to the reality of trafficking victims found right here in our communities. She recently trained DCS managers who will in turn be able to carry out mandated training for all their case workers.
- Shelia and Lizedny are working hard to provide healing resources to all our survivors. These girls, women, and men are true survivors in that they work very hard to find restoration. And Shelia and Lizedny are doing an amazing job in keeping them all focused and encouraged to keep up the fight no matter what happens.
One big upcoming event we would ask everyone who is able to participate in is the first human trafficking case charging a John with trafficking coming up January 29th. It is critical to have as many supporters at the courthouse that day to show that we as a community will not stand for the purchasing of a young girl for sex. Look for more details to come in the next few weeks!
The new year of 2015 is full of hopes and promises both for us as an organization as well as for our survivors. We hope you all will join with us this year to open the eyes of those who still do not see and bring understanding to those who still do not understand.
Let’s make 2015 a year to be remembered in the movement to end slavery in Tennessee!
It’s been a while since we've posted a weekly update – but that’s just because so much is happening. So, here is a quick recap of some of the office highlights over the past few weeks:
- We've enjoyed visits from special guests including Carlie Cruse and Betsy Ranalli from Senator Bob Corker’s office and Tim Buell, a drummer for the band Remedy Drive.
- ESTN staff and volunteers participated in special events including our second Annual Benefit, the CNM Salute to Excellence, the 8 Days movie premiere, and the fourth annual Nashville Ride for Refuge!
- Partner's generous donations highlight included 100 toiletry kits from the Murfreesboro group via the Matthew 25 Ministries, ten mac laptop computers from the Christ Presbyterian Academy for our survivors to use in the office and at home, toilet paper and paper towel donations from Whitney Smith of the Spring Hill volunteer group for our survivors in transitional housing to use, and a variety of women’s professional attire and suits from Gwen Smith for our survivors to wear to important job interviews as they begin to develop long-term career goals. Thankful for each and every one of these donations!
- Survivor visits to the office of our survivors keep life interesting too – one of our teen survivors still enjoys coming in to spend time with staff, pop out and scare us around every turn, and leave us heartfelt messages to remind us of our mission and purpose; another survivor relapsed recently, but then called right away asking for help. Christine and Lizedny drove 4 hours round trip to bring her back along with another survivor with whom we are now working. Others survivors came into the office for help in finding new housing, filling out job applications and just to hang out and visit with their support groups at ESTN.
- Karen is planning a conference at Trevecca Nazarene University about policies and treatment regarding human trafficking that will also provide CEU credits to professionals. She is also working to gather a group of men to start a youth initiative program for young boys and men , with the goal of deterring a new generation of "Johns."
- Derri is planning office tours for donors and volunteers who would like to visit and learn more about our work, and working with Christine to develop a resource center at our office to help survivors meet career and education goals.
By Derri Smith
Many agencies, including some in our area, focus on national and international anti-trafficking work. And that’s fabulous! I directed the human trafficking work at an international agency.
But WE focus exclusively on trafficking right here in Tennessee. Just as locally grown produce, and local businesses produce high quality, our community-based effort focuses on applying local resources to local needs. Our knowledge of the issue in this region is deep and specific.
Small is good because it takes more than a brightly-colored Band Aid to cover gaping wounds. It’s a messy and time intensive process. It starts by building trust with people who have absolutely no reason to trust anyone again.
We ‘ve developed effective working relationships with LOCAL service providers. With TBI, Tennessee legislators, regional media and other change-makers so we can bring about needed systemic changes. This collaborative regional approach WORKS. Three years ago, for example, Tennessee’s human trafficking laws received a grade of C, but today Tennessee laws earn the top score in the nation.
Law enforcement knows and trusts us. So our Intervention Specialist- who is a survivor herself- is called and on the scene immediately to comfort and meet the immediate needs of a newly released victim.
We’re in the courts advocating with attorneys, judges and judicial staff who often know us or have been to one of our trainings.
We train thousands of local professionals every year, using specific Tennessee laws and information.
We help family members cope with their own victimhood. You who are parents or grandparents can imagine what this would do to you.
We work with partner agencies to empower youth to avoid being trafficked in the first place. This fall we’ll be bringing our ten week small group prevention program to Salaama Urban Ministries, working with parents, staff and children.
Real healing takes time, knowledge, partnerships and trusted caring people who will be there for the long haul; who will be from the beginning and stay all the way through to the other side of trauma , into healing and hope.
And that is who we are.
Lebanon, TN - Just six months after an explosion at a Lebanon home killed an elderly couple, a local minister is looking to change the story of tragedy to one of triumph. Learn more and read the comments made by ESTN's own Derri Smith here.
Our office has been getting so many baby shower gift deliveries this past week! Our survivor and her new baby girl will be so blessed by all the generosity of so many individuals!!
And…the End Slavery Tennessee office is expanding! We have had workmen in the office this past week making a new hole in the wall opening into on our new office space that will allow us to grow and facilitate new programs such as a resource center for survivors to engage in hands-on computer experience, course work, and job searches.
Also this week:
- Jill Swartz, one of our volunteers and presenters, visited the office early Monday morning to drop off several survivor rescue kits that the women of White House First United Methodist put together to give to her after a presentation she gave about End Slavery Tennessee and the reality of human trafficking. We are so excited about the possibility of partnering with this wonderful group of women and their organization!
- Karen’s Soroptimist International of Music City group came into the office Tuesday evening to put together more rescue kits as well as some food kits. In total, they made 33 kits for us to give to new referrals and rescues!
- Tuesday morning, Shelia took a trip to Memphis to pick up one of our survivors who decided she was ready to come home! We are so glad to have her back with us! She was already asking about starting her GED classes again and looking for a job. On their way home, they stopped at the office to visit. Our survivor brought along her puppy who she rescued from abuse and near-death!
- Alissa Shear did a presentation to a group of Lipscomb freshmen on Thursday and took them on a door hanger event afterwards. This is such a great way to help keep youth knowledgeable and involved with this issue and our organization.
- Friday, our volunteer IT tech guru Marcus came in to install a new conference calling device for us in our conference room. We are so hi-tech because of him!
- This Saturday, Karen will be hosting a training for volunteers who are looking to get more involved with our organization and get educational background and understanding about the issue of human trafficking in our area, and what we as an organization are doing to end slavery in Tennessee!
- We had some special visits on Monday from Andrew Yontz (our new found hero) who dropped off a beautiful painting made during the South of the City event, and by Angela Woodard from Inglewood Church of the Nazarene who dropped off some toddler boy clothes for us to give to our newest survivor mom and some gift cards for our other survivors!
- Wednesday members of the state task force subgroup that Derri chairs met for the second time. The group's task is to develop a statewide service plan for human trafficking survivors, both adults and children, to present to the group at large.
- We have an Amazon wish list up now to help make giving easier for our generous donors - http://amzn.com/w/3U66WG53TDBS1! Items range from clothing needed for survivor rescue kits and gift cards to treat survivors to extra special days out, to office supplies to help keep our organization up and running.
- Shelia, Christine and Kamrie were out of the office on Wednesday to take our 16-year old (now 17-year old) survivor shopping for her birthday at Rue 21. $100 was donated to her in gift cards and cash that she was able to use to feel extra special on her big day! Thank you to all who donated and helped make this a wonderful day and experience for her!
- Meanwhile, Lizedny attended court with one of our survivors who had her own charges dropped while testifying against her traffickers. Lizendy later this week also went to see another client of ours whose wife was having a baby!
- Wednesday, Karen attended a train the trainer session. She is now authorized to train others to prevent child abuse using the Steward’s of Children curriculum entitled Darkness to Light.
- Derri received news this week that the creator of a soon-to-be-released film, 8 Days, wants to partner with End Slavery Tennessee for the premiere showing in Nashville on September 25th! This will be a great opportunity to reach out to individuals and organizations in our area and to be involved in a red carpet event!
- Derri also left on Friday for a trip to Dallas to visit with an organization called New Friends New Life - an anti-trafficking organization that has had great success in there area and from whom we hope we can learn to serve our survivors even more effectively.
On July 19th, local musicians, artists, and their fans gathered at the Brentwood Contemporary Music Center for a night of music and human trafficking awareness! South of the City, put together by End Slavery Tennessee’s friend and hero Andrew Yontz, was a benefit concert for our organization with the purpose of bringing together local talent to help raise awareness and funds to fight the sex trafficking taking place in Nashville.
While the audience’s ears were filled with moving song lyrics and harmonies, they were also given the opportunity to take part in live art – taking trash and scraps of unused paper, writing inspiring messages, prayers, and quotes for human trafficking survivors on them, and then pasting them to a canvas. The piece was then given to ESTN to hang in our office for every girl and survivor who passes through our halls to read. Another art piece was also created live by Christi Getzen Schroader throughout the entire event. The piece was entitled "We Are Not Finished." More of Christi's work can be found at her website, Light Beneath. Other artistic talent for the event included the musicians of Jorand Minton, Cammie York, Flying Colours, and Old Friend.
Andrew kept the event hopping with raffle prizes, an upbeat atmosphere, and excitement! “I hope everyone who attends this event will feel equipped and inspired to find a cause in their life they are passionate about and do something about it through their gifts and talents,” said Andrew.
Derri Smith also spoke during the session and explained the mission of End Slavery Tennessee She shared the story of one of our survivors who is ready to have a voice!
Extra thanks to Andrew for all the work he did for this event, all the musical and artistic talent that preformed, and the supportive individuals who made the night a grand success!