Community of Hope Church, in Loxahatchee, invites you to join them for “Confronting Human Trafficking” on February 25th from 7 – 8:30 p.m. This event will bring together faith-based ministries at the forefront of the fight and will feature a 30-minute documentary, produced by Place of Hope, that allows people to really understand the modern day slavery currently taking place right here in South Florida.
“Florida is 3rd in the nation when it comes to human trafficking and Palm Beach County is 2nd in Florida, so we have a huge problem right here in our backyard, and yet we still have a huge lack of awareness even in our own congregation,” said Dalia Paratore, director of missional engagement at Community of Hope. “What I’m hoping to do is create that awareness for people to wake up to this problem, but it is also going to include a call to action. What can we do within our community that is sustainable and is fulfilling a need?”
“This will be our first event, but we are doing it in conjunction with all of these other ministries, so I really like the fact that we’re coming together on this,” she said.
There will be a panel discussion following the documentary with representatives from Rescue Upstream, a ministry started at Journey Church; Hope for Freedom, a ministry of Christ Fellowship; Place of Hope, amstate-licensed children’s organization providing foster care, family outreach and intervention; and Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities is going to speak to the heart of the victims, what it feels like to be in the process of restoration and how you can make a difference.
Place of Hope is going to talk about how you can get involved in helping educate hotels to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to respond.
And Char Talmadge, director of Rescue Upstream, will talk about a new provider portal that allows ministries and agencies to share resources and information across Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“Sharing One Love is a technology platform that links together people that are in the fight against human trafficking,” explained Talmadge. “We use it when we make calls and it allows us to document, track, and flag data for law enforcement, but there is now a different link where you can go on SharingOneLove.org and click on “Volunteer Your Services.” Professionals who want to volunteer their services to help victims can click on that link. They fill out the Memorandum of Understanding, pay $35 for a background check and complete a module of human trafficking training.” Once volunteers are vetted through the system, agencies can connect victims with volunteers willing to share their services to help.
“Anyone can be a service provider,” explained Paratore. “It can be something as basic as teaching a victim who is now a survivor how to drive or how to dress for a job interview or to provide dental work or teaching someone computer skills. All the basic things they were denied that would enable them to be able to move forward. Those service providers are sorely needed.”
For Talmadge, “It’s really a story of the faith-based community coming together to make a difference.”
“As a church I believe we have a moral imperative to shine a light on this,” said Pratore. “It really is for anyone who has eyes and ears and a heart to serve Christ…. It is so important for the church to be a part of the solution to give people hope, to let people know they are loved.”
Everyone is invited. Pratore encouraged, “Just come and hear and learn because there is always something that everyone can do. You don’t know the difference you can make in someone’s life.”
To learn more, visit communityofhope.church/trafficking.