end slavery

Getting the Word Out

by Karen Karpinski, Director of Education

 Dear Volunteers, 

 As we close out 2014 and enter the new year I'd like to thank you for your passion and  dedication to the mission of End Slavery Tennessee and ask that you continue that same level of dedication.  With your assistance we were able to train many youth about the lures of trafficking and train professionals who encounter victims  in their work.  You gave generously when we asked for the needs of survivors; you collected gift cards; provided birthday celebrations and baby showers and generously contributed for a wonderful Christmas for every survivor. You rode, walked or helped with the Ride for Refuge and solicited many sponsors; you mentored or taught GED classes. You drove survivors to appointments,  stuffed envelopes, wrapped presents, took down shelves and carted away things, painted and decorated to make our offices warm and welcoming.  You made sure every new referral had a welcome kit and food kit to meet their immediate needs. You are truly awesome and it has been such a pleasure to work with you.  

 In this new year ESTN will be hiring a new Volunteer Manager so that I can concentrate on the advanced education so dearly needed.  I know that I can count on you to be the great volunteers we have come to depend on, but I have one request as I move on.   Please begin (or continue) to log onto our website and record your hours in the Volgistics Volunteer  Program.  Laura and I will be re-sending passwords to all of you who have not yet logged on.  This is very important to us.  Each hour that you record for volunteering is equivalent to $22.14. When we apply for grants we are able to show how you, our volunteers contribute to our bottom line.  Be as proud of what you do as we  are of you. Log your hours! Thank-you. 

Slacktivism or Activism?

Slacktivism blog post

by Derri Smith 

I learned a new word at a recent meeting for an issue that’s troubled me for some time: Slacktivism. Through experience and observation, I find many organizations, faith communities and individuals who earn the label. They love to “like” pages, be a fan, display a badge or widget, sign petitions and attend glitzy shows, usually with big name celebrities and shocking stories and images about human trafficking. Ardent slacktivists announce on social media that they will meet a real need, but privately don’t follow through. 

Slacktivism helps us feel good, look cool and be seen. The nonprofit community provides many prime opportunities for slacktivists. But, in the human trafficking field, the real-life outcome of slacktivism often hurts survivors and impedes the work of those engaged day-to-day and year-to-year in real, tangible efforts. Here is what I’ve seen and grieved over:

  • Slacktivist events and activities are like inoculations, simulating the feeling of really doing something to bring about systemic change or to aid survivors in a positive way. 
  • Slacktivist promotions divert attention and funds—often HUGE amounts of funds—away from actual, ground level, substantive work. Those media grabbing props are expensive! 
  • Slacktivist marketing schemes paint an inaccurate portrait of the issue. Disheveled girls in cages, behind bars and/or in chains do not reflect the reality of most victims. The vast majority are girls whose abuse and trauma prior to trafficking makes them vulnerable to the dream they are then sold by traffickers. They are trapped by psychological bonds stronger than any bars. Traffickers are master manipulators who in perverse ways meet a victim’s physical and emotional needs to keep them enslaved without need of handcuffs. The trafficked girls I’ve seen wear jeans and T-shirts and look like the girl next door. 
  • Slacktivist media disrespects trafficking survivors, prodding them to tell titillating stories. The exercise in voyeurism betrays a lack of real concern and compassion or, at least, understanding. And jarring images can be traumatic to the survivors inundated with them. One survivor, still in school, was deeply wounded hearing classmates gush with misguided passion about the trafficking they learned about at a slacktivist event, making trafficking seem exciting, glamorous and sexy.

Slacktivism requires little of us, whereas substantive ground-level work requires sacrifice of time and resources. Instant feel-good moments are rare for activists; but there is profound satisfaction in small victories, and great value in a staunch determination to stay on course to help survivors over the long haul. The “recovering slacktivist” wrestles with drama and disappointment in pursuit of a survivor’s best good. Activists stay humble, realizing that we are messy people trying to help messy people—not adrenaline charged slacktivists making symbolic statements for the sake of “those slaves.” Really caring means holding back on tweets, Facebook statuses or Instagrams when it might put the survivor’s safety and privacy at risk.

Recovering from slacktivism will likely mean facing unpleasant truths about self and trading the concept of “saving those people” for either walking humbly and wisely beside the survivor or supporting those who do. Slacktivist recovery is a great program for learning from those in the trenches—both survivors and those who daily give them care.

Slacktivists are mostly well-meaning people, and they are numerous, whereas activists are rare. They’re people willing to roll up sleeves and do the hard work of love, support, being there through failures and successes over the long haul and making sacrifices. When a few slacktivists become activists, the dynamics change in favor of survivors. 

Which path will you choose?



P.S.  Don’t get me wrong; sharing , “liking” and widgets certainly have their place. Let’s just not stop there. Ok?

Why I Volunteer - Ashley

by Ashley Hargest   

When I would hear about human trafficking, I always thought it was something that only went on in other countries. I never thought of it happening in my own backyard. When I first became aware of how much trafficking is currently going on in my own city, I couldn't believe it.

The first time I really started comprehending what human trafficking is, I was in shock, then I became angry, then my heart completely hurt for these people who aren't even treated as human beings. When I read that the average age girl who is trafficked is the same age as my little sister, something started stirring inside me even more. I can’t even imagine.

I was recently watching some videos and hearing the stories of some of the survivors in the area and I was sitting there, tears rolling down my face, feeling completely sick to my stomach. There was no way I could continue to sit on the side and not take action. As I sit here in the comfort of my own home, many victims all around me are fighting for their lives. I want to be a part of something that strives to put an end to this gut wrenching “business”. I want to be a part of something that seeks to show these victims their worth and value and to know that they are loved. This is why I’m so blessed to get to be a part of what End Slavery Tennessee is doing!

To learn more about what's happening in YOUR backyard and what End Slavery Tennessee is doing about it, watch this five-minute video.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/61593231]

Survivor Stories - Adela

End Slavery TN - Survivor Stories*




My mother will never receive an award for her parenting. I was always a commodity to her. Something to sell for drugs and booze as a six year old. Another hand to help her make crack in the kitchen. I have never been her child, her pride and joy. She never held me in her arms and whispered her love in my ear.

I was just Adela. The commodity. The nothing.

For awhile it felt like a blessing that she kicked me out of our apartment at sixteen. I went to live with some girlfriends and thought I’d be living the high life in the big city. Boy was I wrong about that! When the girls told me I had to earn my keep, they introduced me to a pimp. First time I saw him I thought he was fly. A real smooth talker. I felt flattered by his sexy talk and his coy smiles. But now I know, that was all just to butter me up. Get me to be his whore who’d turn tricks down at the track. Those flirty words were quickly replaced with hostile threats. If I didn’t make a thousand bucks a day, he would beat me. Or worse. One of them even cut up my face with a potato peeler just to mark me as his. It was still nothing compared to my best girl. She was killed in cold blood by her pimp, just as an example to the rest of us. "Stay in line and shut up" is what her body said.

I got sold so many times from pervert to pervert and pimp to pimp, I could hardly keep up with whose I was anymore. I was a dollar bill, folded up and passed from pocket to pocket.

I’m still not sure what snapped in me. Maybe it was having to ID my one friend down at the morgue. Maybe it was just that I was tired of being everybody’s nobody. Mostly, I think, it was that I got pregnant and I didn’t want my baby to grow up in the world I was living in. Whatever it was, I got out. I fled.

And when I was safe, I wanted to bring down every last one of them. So I talked to the feds, and I testified in court. They said I had been caught up in a major trafficking ring and that I’d still be in danger even though we got a bunch of them locked up. I didn’t care. I wanted to talk. Talk to anyone who would listen. Raise awareness about how trafficking isn’t just some foreign problem. It’s happening right under everyone’s noses in Good Ole America. This one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. Well, now that I got my liberty, I’m fighting for all those little girls like me that others can’t even see.

When I first got in contact with End Slavery Tennessee, I was a real mess. A hard life led to some real hard living for awhile. But advocacy groups like ESTN stuck with me through thick and thin. And now I’m about to graduate from college. College! Who could’ve dreamed such a thing just a few years ago?!

I was a sex slave in a slum city, but now I’m a blessed warrior with a golden ticket.

It’s like that verse in Genesis says – what they did to harm me, God used to bless me, so that many would be saved. I’m living proof that God uses the most unlikely of people to bring His own liberty and justice to those who need His deliverance

*These stories are written in the first person, even though they are not written by the survivors themselves. However, apart from the omission of names and identifying information, all aspects of the stories have really happened, right here in Tennessee.

Gear Up for the Ride for Refuge 2013

It’s time to build our ESTN Ride for Refuge teams!

Would you help turn a fun bike ride into an event that transforms lives?

The Ride for Refuge is a cycling fundraiser that supports over 165 charitable partners who in turn support thousands more who are displaced, vulnerable or exploited – refugees, orphans, widows, street kids, the urban poor, homeless, victims of human trafficking – the list is extensive. This fall, thousands of other riders and volunteers in Canada and the USA will raise $1,000,000 for some of the most marginalized people in our world. End Slavery Tennessee is once again one of the charities benefiting this year, and the funds we raise through our team will go directly to caring for the victims we’re privileged to serve and support.

By riding, jogging, walking, volunteering, or just fundraising, you can help End Slavery TN with:

  • Hiring a human trafficking survivor: someone well along the road to recovery to mentor new rescues, facilitate prevention groups with the most vulnerable girls and advise us in our work
  • Prevention: Empower young people to avoid falling prey to a trafficker’s traps. Intensive work with especially vulnerable girls and adding a program for boys. Resourcing church leaders to work in their church and community.
  • Victim Aid for the survivors we serve: from the immediate and urgent like food, clothing, medical attention and safe shelter to the long term, like job skills, counseling and legal aid. Some needs are large; help getting a reliable car so they can work or getting a home of their own furnished, covering initial rent and deposits while they get on their feet, or transportation to get a child to a shelter and away from a bad home situation.

These are just a handful examples out of many. Our services are available to all human trafficking survivors in Middle Tennessee: Adults and minors; foreign nationals and US citizens; victims of labor, service or sex trafficking.

The ride is October 12 at The Donelson Fellowship Church (3210 McGavock Pike, Nashville), and we’ll have free bicycle rentals available if you want to ride but don’t have a bike. No excuses ;-)

Would you help us help them? Come join in the fun (and sweat) by clicking on the link below:


Please contact Jana (contact info on the poster) if you have questions, and we hope to see you on our team!

Note: if you don't want to join, or even if you do, please consider donating to sponsor a rider or team. We do a LOT with a little. 



[Originally published at Tilted Pineapple]- written by an ESTN Volunteer My Spring Break was spent learning to grieve the death of my grandmother. She was 96, and while the actual moment was unexpected, I’ve been aware this was coming. Even so, it’s tough to deal with. I’ve reached the “it makes you think” stage. Or, maybe that’s just the way I deal with a lot of things.

Several months ago, I was in the midst of an interview process and was asked the question, “What do you want your legacy to be?” While I’ve thought a lot about what I want my son to learn as he grows up, I really had not thought much about what it means to leave a legacy. I’m pretty sure, “I’ve never thought about that!” wasn’t the answer they were looking for though. While I came up with something that I don’t think is completely wrong, death has a way of forcing you to re-evaluate questions like that.

My son has an amazingly wonderful teacher and one of the things she has her kids do in class is answer prompts in a writer’s notebook. I find it kind of amusing that we’re doing the same type of exercise, he and I (see my 642 Things posts for my occasional writer’s prompt exercises). But, that’s off topic. He brought his notebook home over Spring Break. I read through the whole thing, looked at all of his illustrations and marveled at the way he responds to his world.

Sometime late last Fall, the prompt was, “The best thing about my family is…” and his response (shorter than most other pages) was, “they are trying to end slavery.”

I had been looking for an ongoing opportunity to include him in a volunteer effort and we had begun distributing door hangers for an organization I work with, End Slavery Tennessee. He drew a picture of the door hangers to illustrate. He could have chosen a thousand other ways to answer that question. And maybe some other answers would have pleased me more…but not many.

If I leave him with a legacy of the importance of caring deeply for hurting people, of fighting injustices and acting out God’s love in a practical way, I will not be unhappy with that.

There are days when we all look at our parenting and see nothing but our own faults and failures. May those failures I see be overshadowed by God’s grace, poured out into the heart of a young boy learning what it means to serve others one small step at a time.

I’ll miss you Nanny, thank you for everything you did for me. If I live as long a life as you did, may I see a worthy legacy left. While I have more thinking to do about what that means for me, that notebook page was a glimpse of hope.

Ride for Refuge 2012

The morning of the Nashville Ride for Refuge dawned rainy and gray, but the weather didn't get us down!  My girls were so eager to Ride, even though it was COLD.  Watching all of the Riders line up and then take off in groups was very exciting!  With the last of the 8 mile group on their way, my two big girls on bikes, and my toddler, hitching a ride in the jogging stroller pushed by my husband Will, brought up the rear.  I enjoyed doing registration with Karen Karpinski and Dana Montgomery and greeting all of the riders was one of the highlights of my morning as I put faces with names that I'd seen on the Nashville Ride for Refuge website for the last few months.

My family enjoyed doing the first mile together, and then I went and picked up the two little girls so that my husband and oldest daughter could continue the Ride.  They went on to finish the ENTIRE 8 mile route!  When she came back inside, my 10-year-old looked about ready to fall over, but she was SO proud of herself (and so were we!).  It was such a confidence boosting experience for her and the little girls had a great time playing and eating yummy snacks donated by wonderful volunteers!

I've been volunteering with End Slavery TN for about 9 months and have wanted to involve my girls in this amazing abolition work, but have had to be careful as well because the issues around slavery can be graphic and disturbing.  The Ride for Refuge was the perfect event for a family wanting to do abolition work together, no matter the age!  There was something for everyone, whether it was participating in the Ride itself, helping with registration, food, set-up, trail side cheerleaders handing out snacks and water, you name it!

Ride Day was an amazing and fun morning with fabulous people who care deeply for the vulnerable, exploited, and displaced among us here in Middle Tennessee.  Being with such a group was a blessing for our family.  The fundraising leading up to the Ride was also a faith building experience.  Sixty-seven sponsors from all over the country sponsored my daughters.  They shared messages of love and support with my family and for the girls my girls were striving to serve--Girls helping Girls!  It was a grand circle of love and hope that touched my heart and showed me "that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” We loved doing the Ride and hope to make it a family tradition!

With Gratitude, The Will and Christy Grigg Family

Step 1: Education

Guest blogger: Stephanie Swick -  Short Term Team Member with ESTN 

Lately, I’ve been entertaining the idea of becoming a nurse midwife. I’m an English major. The hardest science class I took in college was Geography of the Oceans. But there’s a huge need, especially in other countries, for women to be educated and to have care during pregnancy. I think it would be interesting to try to make myself available to offer help to women who get pregnant as a result of enslavement. Could it be possible?

But the thing is, legislation is a huge part of fighting human trafficking, especially in the U.S. I could become a lawyer and make this stuff happen. There’s an organization called Polaris that has put out a list of 10 trafficking laws every state should have. I could help make those laws. That would be cool.

Still, there are women and children who are being rescued from their captors every day with no shelters to run to. There are not enough resources for recovering victims from such a traumatic experience. There are counselors and therapists needed to help these women deal with drug addiction, over-sexualization, kidnapping, and physical, psychological and sexual abuse. I could do that.

At the beginning of my End Slavery internship, I thought I would begin to figure out which path to pursue – nursing school, law school or social work.

Yet I’m finding that more than anything, I just want people to know that slavery still happens. I don’t think enough people know. If they did, I have to believe this issue would start to shrink and instead of growing. At the end of this school year, I had coffee with an old friend who I hadn’t talked to in a long time. When he heard the name of this organization, End Slavery, he misunderstood it as a mental or societal slavery. “You’re going there to fight the man,” he said, “Our society is enslaved by consumerism. That’s great!” This is an intelligent guy who prides himself on being educated. And he’s clueless.

The students on the campus of my Alma Mater – an institution blazing trails in education – have no idea that in our world, Human Trafficking and Slavery is the 2nd largest crime. They don’t know that in our country, roughly 300,000 people are enslaved and many of these people are American citizens. They have no idea that it’s happening in their towns – in the hotels and restaurants they drive past.

I feel a burning desire to drive my car down the street yelling these facts into a megaphone. “This is what’s happening and here’s what you can do about it!”

One thing this internship has shown me is that just about anyone can use their abilities to fight trafficking. It’s not that I want everyone to become social workers and lawyers. But if the future politicians, doctors, business people, broadcasters, celebrities, artists, teachers, engineers, etc… know what to look for, they could save millions of lives and generations of repetition.

So now I’m left exploring a whole new path. How can we get this information into the hands of 60,000 students? More importantly, how can we get them to pay attention? I am no speech-maker, I don’t know how to lead a movement. I just know that this is something people need to know about.

So career-wise, I keep coming back to education. During college, most people assumed I wanted to be a teacher. I was hesitant, but maybe that’s where I’ll end up.

Slavery is real. It’s everywhere. And it’s growing.

And every single person has the power to do something about it.


To find YOUR niche, please visit www.endslaverytn.org

For info to share with the youth in your life, see http://www.bethejam.org/

Helping Hands

Guest writer: Channing Salava

The story of a person easily translates into the lines in their hands. The wrinkles tell of a lifetime of labor and effort. Each line represents a moment or an action that maintains a special significance only their owner can understand. As the days progress, the moments pass and lines of life attained, we learn and grow. The acquisition of age is a cherished event but there is something to say about the hands of a child. Their smoothness calmly whispers youth, inspiration and hope. The way a child grasps your hand, with total security and total faith is undeniably beautiful.  In a way, we all maintain qualities of a child (though we may not choose to admit it). As children we live with our hands open. Open to the world, open to ideals, creativity, faith, trust. It is when we start to accept the world for what it is, instead of what we want it to be, that our hands begin to close. Slowly our palms tighten, getting harder and harder. We may begin to live with fists in place of where our open hands once were. So I ask myself, I ask you, when you look down what do you see?

Are your hands closed? Are they open? What do they say about you? Are your hands helping, are they reaching out to another? Regardless of their condition, it's your choice whether they are open or closed. 

You can make a difference; you can be the one to reach out to another. Touch someone's life, restore that hope and love that slowly slips out of grasp. God gives us our own talents because He knows we can touch and change lives. The power of an open hand cannot be explained in mere words. Whatever your talents may be: speaking, writing, building community, photography, poetry, math, or listening, I urge you to explore the potential that each can offer. 

Let us restore our view to the time of our childhood. Let's see the world for the way we want it to be instead of accepting it for what it is. Open your hand and your heart is sure to follow.

Note: Channing is a Belmont student currently using her photography skills to create materials to prevent trafficking among young people. Come join her, and hundreds of others, in using your talents to end slavery. Join a volunteer group in Nashville, Hendersonville, Franklin or (soon to be) Murfreesboro.