Written by: Melania Klemowits, Exploit No More's Executive Coordinator
Today is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, Press for Progress, is a call to motivate and unite the community - everyone alike - to think, act, and be gender inclusive.
I write this on a Monday evening curled up on my clearance couch with my dog half on my writing arm, half on the cushions. When I move her aside, she gravitates back to me.
Tonight, my little and I watched The Great Gilly Hopkins (thank you Netflix!) a sweet tale of a girl shuffled around foster care until she finally finds her family.
Those type of stories always make me cry. Not the sniffles but the crying that takes my breath away.
My daughter, knowing I was crying because I kept adjusting my glasses and my fingertips were dirty with mascara, patted my head without taking her eyes off the show. “Oh Mommy. Don’t cry. It’s a good story.”
Somehow, I managed to nod.
“Mommy, stop worrying. You always worry. That girl,” pointing to our glowing tv, “is strong. She is good Mommy.”
“Good stories always make me cry.”
“Because they are becoming rare”
Not knowing what I meant, she blinked at me, no longer watching the tv.
“Sometimes my word makes me very sad, so when I watch good movies with happy endings, I cry. That’s just how I am.”
She nods, understanding. We watch the rest of the movie, me crying, her patting my head.
I was raised by a strong woman, not knowing her strength until I became a mom myself.
My first three years of motherhood were rough; I was healing from an abusive relationship, trying to find my footing in college and a career, and figuring out what this motherhood thing was all about. My mom stepped in. Her non-judgmental wisdom saved me from breakdown after breakdown. She would say things like: failure makes you human, without it, you would be a fruitcake or listen to some music without words while you process or let’s go grab a chai and not talk about what’s bothering you.
I clung to her.
Last year was the first year that I felt grounded, secure in myself, my motherhood, my career, my home. I was talking to my cousin about well, everything, and she said, “You don’t know all that your Mom’s done, do you?”
I shook my head.
“Your mom supported our cousin in her teen pregnancy when you were a little girl, just like she did with you these past years. I’ve never seen anyone be so open to helping someone else. Others in the family weren’t as willing but your mom never hesitated, questioned, or judged.” She continued to tell me story after story of my mom showing up for others.
It made sense. Of course it did! My mom has always been this person defined by love and acceptance. What took me a few moments to get is that my mom – my quiet, reserved, non-judgmental mom – was, and is, progressive in her actions.
Even though she is quiet, she isn’t silent. Even though she’s reserved, she offers a place of refuge for whoever needs it.
I raise my daughter in her shadow because that’s a great shadow to have a childhood in – and that’s how she recognized the strength in The Great Gilly Hopkins.
And that’s how I know she will press for progress – the strength within her summons her to.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Press for Progress.
A friend of mine said, “well that doesn’t apply to me because I don’t do marches.”
Hold up girl, there isn’t a definition of how people should honor this day or theme. It means anything you want it to mean.
Press for Progress for me means doing my job to my best ability until I see justice because every who is being forced to sell her body for sex are worthy of living in freedom.
It means being a voice for the defenseless and passing the mic to those who speak in whispers.
It means advocating for every single woman who is trapped in the life, exiting the life, survivors of the life.
It means showing up, just like my mom did for me, for others.
It means leading my daughter by example in strength and compassion.
It means giving my daughter tools to be her own advocate and to advocate for people around her.
It means pressing on in courage to see progress.
Today is your day to define what Press for Progress means to you. Today is your day to commit to that manifesto for all the days to come. Today is your moment to hold the mic.
Here, I just handed it to you. Use it for good. Use it for progression.
We've partnered with MKE Moms Blog over the last few months to bring human trafficking awareness resources to parents in our area.
End It MKE Tee Campaign
Read the entire post here: #EndItMKE Shirt :: Fighting for Freedom in Milwaukee
The fight for freedom has come to our doorstep. Fighters across the globe and in our own backyard are shining a light on slavery and taking a stand. Education is being provided, questions are being answered and the word is out that parents can and must be involved. Through the sale and wearing of this #EndItMKE shirt, we are taking a purposeful step in saying that sex trafficking will no longer be tolerated in our communities. We, the citizens of Milwaukee, are standing up to say...
...NOT IN OUR CITY. NOT TO OUR KIDS. NOT ON OUR WATCH.
Check out all of the posts here:
June 2017 Human Trafficking 101 in Milwaukee
July 2017 How Intentional Parenting Can Help Prevent Human Trafficking
September 2017 The Red Flags of Human Trafficking :: Keeping Your Student Safe
October 2017 Equipping Your Student to be a Champion for Freedom
Although our posts are specific to Milwaukee, the majority of the information is applicable to parents and cities across the States. If you aren't located in Milwaukee, check out the links anyway; they are packed with some great resources for parents, educators, and anyone working with youth.
Written by: Jarrett Luckett, Executive Director at Exploit No More
“Go big or go home.” Have you heard that phrase before? Or maybe you’ve heard this one, “Give it your all.” These sayings are usually meant to encourage someone to do something big and grand. The things that are big and grand can be appealing. Appealing because it may seem fun and exciting, it might feel good to our ego, or because the success of “going big” can be a nice pat on the back.
There is nothing wrong with doing seemingly big things, but big things aren’t the only thing that is needed. There is tremendous value in the small things.
After serving on the Advisory Board and Board of Directors, I started in my role as Executive Director in September 2016. Thus far, one of my greatest joys is being able to meet the individuals, businesses, church leaders, and foundations that support us. I’m thrilled to meet our supporters face-to-face, get to know each other, and share a few laughs. Many of these supporters give financially, and come to events (which is fantastic!), yet express a desire to do more. During these meetings, people often ask me, “What can I do?” or say, “I want to do more but I’m not sure what I can do.”
Have you had similar thoughts?
Maybe you support us financially and come to our events, but you want to do more. However, doing more doesn’t mean that you have to, “Go big, or Go home.” There are many small things that people can do! Such as, “Like” our Facebook page, share our email updates with a friend, tell colleagues about ENM, and encourage family, friends, and, colleagues to support ENM and take what they know about human trafficking to educate others.
Fruitful connections have been made as a result of individuals utilizing the small things that they can do.
In the society we live in, it can be hard for us to value the small things because what is big and visible usually holds higher value. However, that doesn’t matter to God. God can take the little that we have and do something great with it! Remember the boy with the little fish dinner? In John 6, when Jesus fed the five thousand, it was because of the five small barley loaves of bread and two small fish from the boy. When the small meal was given to Jesus, Jesus made great use out of it. What seemed small still made an impact and fed 5,000. If that small meal wasn’t valued by Jesus, then thousands of people would have gone without food.
Who isn’t being helped because we don’t value the small things?
How can we grow to value the small things? Growing in valuing the small things comes with knowing that God will honor our willingness to utilize what we have. This starts by placing our faith in God to do big things, rather than in our own ability. Let me say that again. We can value the small things when we place our faith in God’s ability to utilize what we have to do big things, rather than trusting more in our ability.
Going big is great! As you get to know me, you will learn that I’m a big thinker and doer. However, as we go big and give it our all, we must be careful not to trust more in our own ability than we do in God’s.
What is your fish dinner? Yours may look different than mine, but both have value. Maybe I have two fish and you have ten. Nevertheless, just like the boy, we all have a fish dinner that God can use, so let’s use it and make our community and our world a better place
A Note from Our Executive Director, Jarrett Luckett
In Southeastern Wisconsin, news stories of creepy guys asking odd and invasive questions to women and kids have been in the news and on social media a lot more lately, along with stories of attempted abductions. Thankfully in most of the situations, no one was harmed. These articles have been portrayed as possible attempts to abduct someone for human trafficking. Yes, abductions happen for multiple reasons, including human trafficking. However, in Southeast Wisconsin and throughout the United States, abduction isn’t the common way that someone is forced into selling their body.
Individuals are typically forced into selling their body by someone that they know. I know it is hard to believe but it’s true. A woman or young girl is often pursed by someone within their family or someone they may enter into a romantic relationship or friendship with. In this relationship, the perpetrator works to gain trust and find vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities can include lack of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter), the need to make more money, lack of love, lack of a father’s love and engagement in their life, insecurities, promised a job, and the list goes on.
While the recent stories of attempted abductions and creepy guys asking weird and invasive questions is alarming, it is important to not miss out on how human trafficking victims are usually groomed and tricked. I have taught personal defense classes for over 4 years to thousands of people, so please be aware and stay vigilant however, don’t let what is shocking cause for us to miss out on the subtle tactics most traffickers use.
For more information:
Psychology Today - Human Trafficking: Psychology of Recruitment
Join us for our 4th Annual Golf Outing!
8:00-10:00 AM Registration, coffee/juice, Warm-up, Fellowship and pre-Golf Contests
10:00 AM Shotgun start - Foursome Scramble
3:30-4:30 PM After Golf Activities, Including Fellowship, Food and Non-Alcohol Beverages.
4:30-6:00 PM Fellowship and Awards