President’s Note – February 2018

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.     Margaret Mead

And… CAHT members are committed and united in erasing the horrible slave crime of human trafficking. Never doubt that human trafficking exists in our own backyards. It does! The Tampa Bay area, which includes us, ranks 3rd in the nation for receiving HT calls. The United States is the top consumer of all three forms of human trafficking – labor, sex and involuntary servitude. Last year, Selah Freedom, one of the top safe home and rehab centers for young women in the US, helped 1800 young women recover from human trafficking in our area. That is a phenomenal number and just the tip of the ice berg!

Through our collaboration with other human trafficking organizations, we are able to reach out; giving young victims back their freedom and dignity and teaching them life skills. Survivors who live through this form of serious trauma deserve to reach their potential. They have lost everything! (By the way, the average age of a sex trafficked victim is 12 and the average life span with this kind of abuse, fear and loss of self is only 7 years!)

February is “feel the love” month and I hope everyone will hold our family members and dear friends close to our hearts; especially reminding our children and grandchildren to make good decisions when approached on the social media or in person by someone they don’t know. All of us deserve to “feel the love” so please help us reach out with trust and love to survivors, clasping them close to our hearts by becoming a volunteer and a donor.

January was a whopping month for us as it was National Human Trafficking Awareness month. Wow, many of us attended human trafficking events all over the area. CAHT members, Bonnie and Bob Doll, Joan Wallace, and Debbie Petrocelli, participated in a 5K/1 mile walk race, Light Up The Night, to raise funds for the organizations on the front line in combating human trafficking. They raised over $400! We also participated in a seminar at USF, sponsored by the students in the Department of Global Health. Check out our web page for photos.

At the end of 2017, we donated funds to Enterprising Latinas, Justice Restoration Center, Beth Shields Middle School, Bridging Freedom, Redefining Refuge, Miracles Outreach, Courthouse Dogs, Haven of Hope, The Gate, The Children’s Home, and AORN (Nurses CLE course). The Victim Services Committee was busy in December and January, donating sewing machines for local training facilities, and collecting various supplies for our rescue backpacks.

Our ability to help fund other human trafficking nonprofits that work directly with survivors, law enforcement, and local schools is only possible because of the donations we receive. In January, donations and tangible items were received from The Lions Club, GFWC Sun City Center Women’s Club, Galaxy Bridge Club, and Elegant Gardeners Club, as well as individual donors and membership renewals. We are truly fortunate and love the community connection and support! Their involvement with us offers hope and realistic healing practices for HT survivors, and I am personally humbled by such giving and our growing band of volunteers. If you have not already done so, please send in your annual membership contribution of $20. There is a link on our web page, www. SCC BlueHeart.org, for downloading the new application or you can fill one out at February’s general meeting or new member orientation meeting.

Mark your calendars! Our general meeting is Monday, February 19 at 1 pm at the United Methodist Church (UMC). However, we have added a social time, starting at 12:30 with refreshments. Please come before 1 pm! The topic is the link between domestic violence and human trafficking. There will be raffles and a chance to get to know CAHT members.

Wednesday, February 21 at 10 am at UMC, is our first new and renewed members’ orientation. You will learn about our organization, our mission, and how you can play an active role in CAHT. A surprise guest speaker is expected! More details forthcoming.

The Board voted in a new chair for our Membership Committee, Melanie Graziano. Melanie works full-time as a realtor at Century 21 Beggins Enterprises, and she is one of our hard-working volunteers, keeping our members lists up to date and organizing the email blasts to our members. We are thrilled she is finding the time to take a more active role, bringing her vibrant energy and ideas to CAHT.

We regret that board member, Paula Cherella, has stepped down. We wish to thank her for her many contributions to CAHT, and we hope she will continue to stay engaged with our organization.

Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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