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In helping domestic violence victims, we often interface with other related social issues. Dave DeCelle of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, talks about how domestic violence intersects with their work.
This year, Soroptimist International of Saratoga County is working to raise awareness of trafficking issues. Our theme for the year is Talk About It! Before a Club meeting a month ago, members asked me for statistics on trafficking in Saratoga County… do we even have any trafficking that happens here? Yeah we do. John Kelly oversees the Saratoga County Safe Harbour Program, a community response to sex trafficking. He provided the following statistics since July 2016 in Saratoga County:
I might also add, these are just the number of trafficking victims under the age of 21; Wellspring also assists trafficked persons over 21 years of age… so the problem is even greater than those stats.
At our monthly Soroptimist meeting, members were shocked at the numbers… in Saratoga County?! Frankly 4 years ago, before CAPTAIN and the Center for the Family collaborated to launch the Safe Harbour Program, these vulnerable youth probably wouldn’t have been identified… or helped. What’s happened in the past few years? We’ve all gotten training so we’re better able to recognize trafficking… and know what resources there are to help a victim. We’ve developed teamwork between agencies so that we can pull together our resources to help vulnerable victims. CAPTAIN, the Center for the Family, Wellspring work together to increase awareness and provide crisis services and support. Wellspring hosted a training for first responders where CAPTAIN’s street outreach team talked about the needs of vulnerable teens on the street– how they get sucked into a world of sexual victimization… just to survive.
Most folks wouldn’t imagine trafficking happens right here in our community… and wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it. So how can we help? Let’s increase our knowledge. Awareness is the first step to solving the problem. Here’s an opportunity. On Thursday October 26th at 4 pm, Bow Tie Cinema at 19 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs will have a showing of the film, I Am Jane Doe. The film has been described as :
“a gripping legal thriller” (Esquire); “a powerful call to action” (The Los Angeles Times); “viscerally emotional” (The Washington Post), I Am Jane Doe chronicles the epic battle that several American mothers are waging on behalf of their middle-school daughters, victims of sex trafficking on Backpage.com, the classified advertising website that for years was part of the iconic Village Voice. Reminiscent of Erin Brockovich and Karen Silkwood, these mothers have stood up on behalf of thousands of other mothers, fighting back and refusing to take no for an answer.
Reservations are available on line. Click here for more information. Watching the documentary and starting a conversation… it’s an easy way to start tackling a tragic problem that affects our youth.
And here’s another easy way to make a difference for victims. Wellspring has just 10 days left to raise funds in Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge. It takes just seconds to make your donation online and help place first in the nation earning the $100,000 bonus from Allstate. Go just a few seconds to get us one step closer to ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community… click here to donate.
My sons are grown men now, but if there were Emmy nominations for reading to your kids, I’d probably have a series of trophies on my mantle (I delight in character voices, accents, suspense and timing when reading a kids’ book). Malcolm Gladwell says the key to achieving expertise is dedicating 10,000 hours of practice to your craft. I’m pretty sure I spent at least that much time with the boys (and a cat) sitting in my lap as together we discovered how a book can open the door to any possibilities you can imagine. Dreams become reality when you’re between the front and back cover of the book…and often ideas live on after the reader closes the book. Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, monumentalized one day in the life of young Alexander. Allow me to share with you the story of my yesterday… with a working title of Maggie and the Stressful but Exciting, Inspiring, Grateful, Hopeful, Really Wonderful Day!
So yesterday at 1:59 in the afternoon marked the end of week 2 of Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge. It was a big week as the 3 agencies that raised the most money during that week, would earn a $10,000 bonus. We’re competing with about 125 agencies across the country… and they’re all working hard for the survivors in their communities, so we have some really stiff competition! Stressful.
|Watching the leaderboard!|
As 2 pm approached concluding the end of week 2 of the Challenge, I was in the company of about 25 women who were enthusiastically watching the leaderboard and supporting Wellspring’s campaign in every way they could. All eyes were glued to the cell phone screens as the fundraising totals for all agencies kept changing (“We’re in 3rd- by $1,000… another agency just got a $5,000 donation… oh Wellspring just moved ahead!…can we hold the lead?)” Exciting
While Tuesday’s conversation was certainly about the Challenge, this isn’t the first time we’ve gotten together to talk. We’ve talked before about educating youth, about reducing stigma, about how to talk to a friend who may be experiencing abuse, about changing attitudes that contribute to abuse… and mostly about what they can do to end relationship and sexual abuse. Wellspring’s not alone in this… we’ve got a community supporting our vision. Inspiring
|Karen Charbonneau, Willie Miranda, me and Karen Totino|
We had a quick moment of celebration when Wellspring placed 1st in the nation in the week 2 challenge and- yes!- got the $10,000 bonus funds for programs and services here in Saratoga County, but then all went back to our busy lives. I left there and headed to the ribbon cutting for the Saratoga Home Team. On their really special day as they launched their new business, Karen Charbonneau and Karen Totino chose to share the spotlight to support Wellspring, raising funds and awareness about our work. Grateful
Throughout the crowd were friends of Wellspring who’ve championed our work over the years and were following the leaderboard all afternoon. We’ve always said the key to ending abuse doesn’t rest solely in the hands of Wellspring advocates assisting survivors… we’ll only achieve or our vision by engaging everyone to create the change so that abuse isn’t acceptable in our community. Everywhere I went Tuesday, I saw we’re on that path. Hopeful
When I’d read to my sons about Alexander’s bad day, I’d always tell them that tomorrow’s a new and different day with new possibilities. Unlike Alexander I had a magnificent day yesterday… but it was just one step along the path. We’ve got less than 2 weeks left in the Challenge… and a lot of work to do to maintain our standing (and maybe advance into the first place position) so spread the work and let folks know they can help by clicking here. And then we’ve got some more work do to do to create the change needed to end relationship and sexual abuse. But, together, we can do it!
There’s a saying about domestic violence, “Silence Hides Violence”. Tomorrow at 4 pm at Northshire Books, join us– we’re breaking the silence. We’re not the only ones doing it. In fact, Liane Moriarty started it with her book, Big Little Lies. Then came the HBO series based on the book. And Nicole Kidman continued the conversation with her Emmy acceptance speech. Tomorrow we’re inviting you to be part of the conversation as we have an open community book/series discussion about Big Little Lies.
Rachel Person, of Northshire Books, explains that one of the best ways to deal with the hard things in life is through the safe space of a book. Click here for more from Rachel… and join us tomorrow at Northshire Books for an exciting conversation about the book where the “little lies turn out to be the most lethal” and about Wellspring’s vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse
The Presbyterian New England Congregational Church is no stranger to helping those in need. From being the site for the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council’s daily soup kitchen and food pantry, to supporting Code Blue efforts, and the recent Peace Fair, their congregation lives their commitment to be a loving friendly community that worships God and serves others.
Pastor Kate Forer spoke with me recently about how the church is a sanctuary where everyone can feel safe, loved and valued… click here for her inspiring wish that the Purple Purse Challenge can help make all relationships that same sanctuary for people.
Today Wellspring is in third place in the nation… because you and all our community members share that same vision. Please spread the word and support Wellspring’s Purple Purse Challenge by donating here.
Like me, you probably wake up and have a cup of coffee to start your day. Unlike me, you may not wake up most days and start thinking about how we can end domestic violence in our community.
Well the folks at Death Wish Coffee know a thing or two about coffee beans… and they’re also really good spokespeople for how important it us for us to increase awareness. Click here to find out why their supporting Wellspring’s mission and the Purple Purse Challenge.
Wellspring is as concerned as Talia from Death Wish about the 1 in 3 teens who experience dating violence. We do extensive outreach to youth for prevention programs and also social change initiatives. If we can teach youth to recognize and take action when they notice abusive behaviors, we’re on our way to creating the social change needed to end abuse. To that end, here’s a video we produced for high school and college age youth about being advocates for change by challenging social norms. Share the video with a young adult you t know (or a parent of one).
You work hard… you deserve a night like this.
|Friends wearing purple and showing their inner strength
in support of the Purple Purse Challenge
I got to Reform Pilates a little early this morning. I’ve never done a Pilates class and wasn’t sure what to expect as I went to my first class. They graciously offered a donation class in support of our Purple Purse Challenge, so what better reason than to try Pilates? As I was sitting looking around the reception area there was a sign with motivational messages about how to make your life exciting, healthy and joyous. One line caught my eye ‘Every day do something that makes you feel uncomfortable’. OK it’s 9:45 in the morning and I’m about to ace that one, I thought.
|Big smiles after class|
The class was great fun, but I had to notice that with this Challenge I’ve been spending a lot more time at my computer and not very much in plank pose. My core muscles are grateful for the reminder…and I’m grateful for the generous support of Reform Pilates.
And speaking of not shying away from things that are uncomfortable. Our friends at Look TV regularly dedicate their show to conversations about the hard social issues that affect our local communities: homelessness, mental health, poverty, heroin use among our teens… and domestic violence. They’re not sensationalizing the problems, they’re digging in and having real conversations about how we can educate ourselves and create solutions. Robin Dalton and I met yesterday with Jesse Jackson to talk about an event we’re coordinating with Northshire Bookstore to start talking about how we can end domestic violence. I’ll give you a hint.. Nicole Kidman would approve! Click here to finds out what we’re doing and why Robin and Jesse want you to be part of this.
Right now we’re holding at #2 in the country in the Purple Purse Challenge (but we’ve got a whole month ahead of us and some very stiff competition.) I’m struck by the diversity of our supporters in both who they are and why they care. I spent a lot of last month hearing from community leaders about why the issue of domestic violence is important to them (check out all of September’s blog posts.) We’ve got men, women, fitness folks, restaurants, attorneys, engineers, poets…and even a dog raising funds to support the cause. Truly our whole community –Tourism, Life Coaching, Digital Marketing …and Engineers– are all united in our vision of a community free of relationship and sexual abuse. Click on the names of these interesting folks to hear why they’re supporting Wellspring’s Purple Purse Challenge:
The Saratoga County Tourism Bureau knows how to make visitors’ vacations in Saratoga enjoyable… but Talia Cass also demonstrates that they are also knowledgeable about and sensitive to the many challenges domestic violence survivors face,
Carly Hamilton-Jones works to empower women and girls… and she’s seen the effects of domestic violence, so she’s grateful our county has Wellspring’s services to assist survivors,
Fingerpaint Marketing regularly wins national awards for their work. They know how to communicate a message and they acknowledge that domestic violence isn’t easy to talk about… but Bo Goliber isn’t uncomfortable having the at conversation. They’re supporting the Purple Purse Challenge because of Wellspring’s work on prevention programs,
Adam Farvo supports not just physical health but quality of life in our community so he’s rocking his purple purse, and
on behalf of women building ships let’s hear from Emily Franz, the president of The Society of Women Engineers
“Ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community”… yeah, together we can do this!
Do you share our vision? Please donate today at https://www.crowdrise.com/wellspring-purplepurse2017
Odd blog post title? How are these 4 things related?
I was talking to Jason Gough yesterday and thanking him for using his celebrity not just keep us informed about the weather, but as a voice for victims. During his weather report on Friday Jason did a fun shout out in advance of our Pooch Parade – watch it here. Thinking of rain and pooches reminded me of my son Dan’s first joke when he was about three. I don’t know where he heard it, but he’d tell this joke all the time and decades later I can still picture his whole body bouncing with laughter as he told it: