Tonight over 50 people gathered at Glen Ellyn’s Blackberry Market for the launch of the West Chicago Anti-Trafficking Coalition. Representatives from churches, nonprofits, and organizations gathered for an evening of networking and conversation about what needs to be done in West Chicagoland to combat human trafficking of all kinds, including labor and sex trafficking happening at spas, hotels, and gas stations right under our noses.
“My friends say it’s all I talk about it now,” Heather Allchin, of Chicago’s Women of Vision, said. “But it’s happening everywhere, right here, right now—how can I not talk about it?”
WCATC's advisory board is made up of three impressive women: first, author Shayne Moore, who just returned from Washington, D.C., where she was leading a workshop at International Justice Mission and spending time with lawmakers and legislators who were excited to hear the West Chicagoland coalition was being launched. Second, social worker Susan Garrison was there to comment on how we can come alongside Chicagoland organizations providing restoration services to women rescued from the sex industry. Last but not least, Terri Kraus emphasized the importance of prayer in this battle.
"The most important thing we can do in fighting trafficking is pray," Terri said. "Without prayer, our efforts would be useless."
Outside of the advisory board members, Chicago's Women of Vision was one of many faith-based organizations present at the gathering. TraffickFree.org's communications director Sarah Amidon was there talking about the need for improved social services and shelters for trafficking victims in Chicagoland: Right now there is no 24/7 service available for trafficking victims, but fundraising is happening, and they're hosting a 5K in Lincoln Park in September (I'm signing up - are you? :P). A woman named Jill who owns three "Jeans and a Cute Top Shop" shops in West Chicago plans to host a bra drive for Free the Girls, a nonprofit organization that takes donated bras and distributes them to women in need all over the world.
It was a night full of conversation, networking, and information surrounding what’s currently happening with trafficking across the greater Chicagoland area. It opened my eyes to men and women actively seeking to free the captives in our world today, and I plan to take action as an abolitionist starting right now. Consider this my proclamation - I'm in it to FREE THE GIRLS!!!
Check out the photo gallery below for facts and statistics on the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, then tell me you DON'T want to be part of this incredible, life-changing, God-glorifying mission. I dare you.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." -Isaiah 61:1-