“I want to spread awareness on such a widespread issue. I wanted to organize an event that would bring the community together, united, under one cause. Through my own personal experience, I came to fully understand the dynamics of this form of oppression, and its impact on my life, and I have made it priority to commit myself to help others become more aware as well.”
From there Walk to End It was born. Staff helped to guide this young woman in her mission of creating a walk. It’s not an easy task. You have to find a location, promote it, order t-shirts, plan remarks, decorate the site, purchase food and refreshments, and more.
The client worked tirelessly. She worked with other clients to make signs that would line the length of the walk educating participants on the blight of human trafficking and its prevalence in the greater Richmond community and beyond. She prepared a speech that told her story. She had been trafficked at age 14, her trafficker introduced her to heroin, forced her into prostitution, and routinely abused her. And she even added to her list of tasks the creation of special awards, to recognize some of the important people who had her led her out of this darkness, which had stolen 7 years of her life.
Safe Harbor staff had only one goal for this first walk—to make it happen for this client. The walk had become her mission, her purpose, it was a symbol of her recovery, and what’s more, staff hoped it would give her a list of skills to put on a resume that they would help her write when it came time to secure employment. If the walk raised money for Safe Harbor, that would be a bonus. Primarily staff were focused on helping her see something positive through.
And then the walk happened, the first ever Walk to End It, two years ago. The survivor saw hundreds of people show up on that beautiful Fall day at Deep Run Park. She saw the husband of the Executive Director of Safe Harbor grilling hot dogs for participants. She saw all of her signs posted throughout the park. It took enormous courage for her to give her speech that day, courage that she wasn’t sure she possessed. But she told her story, she handed out her awards, and she watched her project come to life.
What’s more, The Walk to End It was successful in raising much needed funding to support Safe Harbor’s Human Trafficking Program, which provides comprehensive services including counseling, addiction counseling, case management, and shelter. Safe Harbor’s commitment to helping this one client ended up helping many more survivors. And as this client works to write a new chapter, she knows that she left this legacy to the organization that made it possible.
Help us to tell more stories about the recovery and the rebuilding of lives by walking with us at the 3rd annual Walk to End It on November 3. For more information or to register click here: www.walktoendit.myevent.com