Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery that exists in the communities of Illinois. To increase public awareness of human trafficking and community involvement in our state’s anti-trafficking campaign, the Illinois Rescue and Restore Coalition organizes an Outreach Day in the spring every year. On April 23, 2011 the coalition held its annual Outreach Day.
On this day, hundreds of volunteers and team leaders from all over the state canvas their local neighborhoods with posters detailing information on how to help victims of trafficking and displaying the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number 1-888-3737-888.
I became aware of this growing problem through a local news site and it referred to an online petition by change.org which I chose to sign. This is not about some far off third world country, but right here in Chicago and all across the USA.
A few weeks ago I read about Outreach Day and decided to volunteer through their website. It turned out that I missed the cutoff for signing up, but project coordinator Lisa Fedina offered to let me pick up my own materials, or try to find a team that still had openings.
I was able to join the team lead by Co-Pastor Trudie Strickland through The New Testament Full Gospel Baptist Church. On a warm Saturday afternoon I arrived early and ate a pastry while we waited for our orientation. Seven people sat through a brief overview of the project and then they gave us our materials. We each received a bright red back sack with the logo for the Outreach Day.
I joined two other volunteers Josie and Belinda and we walked south on Western Avenue stopping in businesses asking if them if we could put a poster in the window or other prominent location. Many establishments let us hang the poster or took it to hang later. These included clothing stores, furniture stores, convenience stores, barber/hair salons and a laundromat. We met a women from a church in Forest Park who took some posters for her community.
Suzanne Hanney Editor in Chief of StreetWise had arrived earlier and asked us to wait for her so she get get our feedback. Suzanne asked us about our experiences that day, our motivations for volunteering and then took pictures. Co-Pastor Trudie talked about her involvement with “Rescue & Restore” for over a year now and a forum she organized on Human Trafficking at Daley College.
The Outreach goes year round so I took posters to put up in my neighborhood and around Chinatown. Let me know if you would like one to hang where you work or worship.
Twelve done and 38 left.