BEND, Ore. - Winter is a time for sports – fans root for their favorite football teams during the big game and cheer when the U.S. athlete in their favorite sport tops the podium. Large events can drive an increase in demand for sex trafficking. But human trafficking doesn’t happen in Central Oregon, right?
Human trafficking happens 365 days a year in every Zip code in America. Youth, aged 12-18 are particularly vulnerable to enslavement by traffickers. The average age of entry into forced sexual exploitation is 12-14 years old for girls and 11-13 years old for boys. Now is not the time to stand on the sidelines.
In Our Backyard (IOB), a 501 (c)3 organization based in Redmond, just returned from its ninth annual operation surrounding the Super Bowl. Locally, IOB works with area school districts to offer the STOP HT Project. The program strengthens youth, and the community of parents, teachers and staff that support them, so that they are no longer vulnerable to traffickers.
100+ Women Who Care of Central Oregon is helping fight this battle with their 2017 fourth-quarter donation of $24,600 from its members. An anonymous donor matched their donation, which means IOB will receive close to $50,000.
“The matching gift from the anonymous donor is ground breaking,” says Lisa Connors, co-founder of 100+ WWCCO. “The donation from our members has doubled, enabling IOB to educate more youth to the atrocities of human trafficking.”
With the gift, IOB will expand its school prevention program. When youth are safe, in school, and equipped to protect themselves from predators, then they can focus on their classes and extracurricular activities.
Nita Belles founder of IOB says, "When I leave a school after training a classroom full of students, it feels so good to know those faces I've seen are not going to be faces I see at 3am after a hotel raid. They and many of those they know will be protected from being trapped in human trafficking."
To learn more about In Our Backyard and the work they are doing in Central Oregon, attend their event Intercepting HT: The Super Bowl, Convenience Stores, Schools, and YOU on Thursday, February 22nd from 6-8pm at St. Charles in Bend. Visit their website to learn more and get involved: http://inourbackyard.org/
About 100 Women Who Care Central Oregon
100+Women Who Care of Central Oregon meet quarterly. The next meeting is Monday March 5, 2018 at the Boys and Girls Club in downtown Bend. To learn more about this amazing organization that has grown to be one of the largest chapters in the country and has raised more than $350,000 for local non-profits since its inception in 2014 Central Oregon, please visit www.100wwcco.com