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Local organizations fight sex-trade close to home

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Several Auburn-area organizations have resolved to work to see the end of the sex-trade locally Groups from all sides of the spectrum, from former law enforcement to faith-based and service organizations to families, are working toward the same goal through different avenues — to end the sale of young men and women for sex. With January being National Slavery and Human trafficking prevention month, they are intensifying their efforts. Signatures for change Peggy Fava, executive director of Bridge-Network, is running a petition campaign for Californians Against Slavery in the Auburn-area. She hopes to collect enough signatures to help get the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act on the November 2012 ballot. The CASE Act would enact stricter penalties for human-traffickers and online predators in California. So far, Fava said volunteers in Placer and Nevada counties have collected the most signatures in California. “I was really surprised. We have a small county compared to the larger counties,” Fava said. While the progress has been good, Fava said the organization has only reached 10 percent of its goal so far. On Saturday, Fava is holding a meeting at Depoe Bay Coffee Co. in Auburn for people interested in hitting the petition trail. “I have these smaller meetings and I am kind of spreading the word grass roots,” Fava said. “We’ll teach you how to do that. If you get 20 people, we are going to hit our target and blow it out.” Law enforcement partners with service groups Monday, Valerie Harris, who retired her position as Auburn’s police chief last year, presented to Soroptmist International of Auburn on the topic. Harris is using her area of expertise to help train law enforcement and educate the public on sex-trafficking that occurs closer to home than most people realize. “That goal presently underway is for us to focus on putting together training for law enforcement and NGOs and others, community forums, etcetera, to be able to increase awareness of human trafficking issues,” Harris said. “We believe by educating the public we will in turn bring more light to the issue to bring help to victims and be a positive help overall.” Harris said she heard about the issue a few years ago and was appalled. “Just in general it appalls me the thought of children or adults being used and abused,” Harris said. “I think we can always be better educated. All agencies can learn how to better unify research and use investigative skills to do a better job. Every officer has the ability to do basic investigations. It’s good to have additional training and understanding of the mindset of the victim and the resources.” Kristi MacIntosh, of Soroptmist International of Auburn, attended one of Harris’ trainings last year. She said Soroptmist has taken this issue on as organization. They are working with one local organization to put a kitchen in at the safe house in the Sacramento-area. “It’s real easy to say it’s someone else’s problem, but it’s our problem as human beings,” MacIntosh said. “Seventy-nine percent are women and girls and we, as women of Soroptmist, our mission is to make a difference in the lives of women and girls. I think this is one place where we can really fit this to our mission.” Fighting trafficking becomes a family effort Danielle and Mark Jones, of Loomis, have made it their family’s mission to end sex-trafficking. The Jones’ and their four daughters have each used their different skills to work with Courage To Be You. The Rocklin-based organization opened a safe house in the area and had the first two minors rescued from the sex-trade move in this year. Mark Jones owns a landscape construction business and helped transform the property where the safe house is located. Danielle Jones used her background in corporate sales to spearhead marketing for the non-profit organization. Their 15-year-old daughter Jordan is headed to Tanzania on a mission trip to work with youth in Courage To Be You’s safe house in Africa. Even daughter Sydney, 11, is planning a spaghetti feed in Loomis to raise money. “Once you find out whatever you are passionate about, you need to step forward. We found our purpose,” Danielle Jones said. “We are here to be a voice for these kids. What we love to do, our skills and gifts, (God) has used every piece of this. I personally have seen the lives of these kids and I think it’s absolutely critical for the community to step forward and do something about this issue.” Danielle Jones said it’s an issue her family, like so many other local organizations, isn’t giving up on. “I think the biggest thing is it literally breaks my heart and gets me teary-eyed every time I think of kids out there that don’t have a family, that don’t have a home,” Jones said. “I had no idea this issue was happening in our own backyard. It was scary as anything because as you know this is the evil of evils in this world. We will live and die by this issue.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. ______________________________________________________ What: Courage To Be You Community Spaghetti Dinner and Concert When: Sat., Jan 14, 6 p.m. Where: Blue Goose Events Center, 3550 Taylor Road, Loomis Cost: adults- $25, children- $10. Tickets can be purchased at c2bu.org/events or at the door. Event Details: Sydney Jones, 11, of Loomis, organized a Spaghetti Dinner and Concert to benefit Courage To Be You, an organization that builds homes for girls rescued from sex trafficking. ______________________________________________________Innocence Lost Task Force present in Sacramento Law enforcement cracks down on sex-trafficking In June 2003, the FBI in conjunction with the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children launched the Innocence Lost National Initiative. Their combined efforts were aimed at addressing the growing problem of domestic sex trafficking of children in the United States. In the eight years since its inception, the initiative has resulted in the development of 44 dedicated task forces and working groups throughout the U.S. involving federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working in tandem with U.S. Attorney’s Offices. One of them is located in Sacramento. To date, these groups have worked successfully to rescue more than 1,800 children. Investigations have successfully led to the conviction of over 800 pimps, madams, and their associates who exploit children through prostitution. These convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple life sentences and the seizure of real property, vehicles, and monetary assets. Source: www.fbi.gov ______________________________________________________ For more information on the CASE Act visit www.californiaagainstslavery.org To contact Peggy Fava for volunteer opportunities in Auburn call, (530) 876-6868