Astonishingly Honest #WhyIStayed graphics & shocking Domestic Violence statistics

posted on: October 9, 2018

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the focus is on making America aware of this nightmare. Awareness plus Action creates change so I am willing to do my part, however small that might be. Please contact me via lauraaranda@owlofhope.com to come to your school, church, book club and host a workshop concerning human trafficking in America and how it affects our American runaways.

The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. 

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in America.

 

#WhyIStayed

 

10,000,000

That is the number of minor children exposed to domestic violence every single year. Just let that heartbreaking number sink in for a moment. These are your Sunday school kids, your classroom students, your neighborhood kids playing in the streets. We have to do something! 

 

 

Need help?

In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN.

https://hotline.rainn.org/online/

For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website. https://www.nsvrc.org

 

 

Between 55 percent and 98 percent of child sex-trafficking cases involved children who had prior involvement in the child welfare system.

Runaway and homeless youth are at particularly high risk for exploitation
by traffickers: A survey of youth in a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, Utah, found that 50 percent of homeless youth reported having been solicited for sex by an adult.

Reports have also indicated that one out of every three runaways will be “lured toward” prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we may not know exactly how many young people are being sexually exploited and abused by traffickers in the United States, it is clear that the sex trafficking of children and teenagers is a significant problem that deserves concerted attention. The challenges presented by these cases are not insurmountable, and there is a growing coalition of lawmakers from both parties who are committed to strengthening state and federal laws to better protect young people from this devastating form of abuse. There is also a strong community of anti-trafficking advocates committed to raising awareness about sex trafficking of minors and developing policy proposals and best practices for identifying and apprehending traffickers and providing supportive services to victims.

 

above notes taken from:

https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/HumanTrafficking-brief.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is one thing you can do to improve all areas of your life at the same time – invest in yourself. The most famous investor of all time, Warren Buffett, says: “The best investment you can make is in yourself.” Go do something, become proud of yourself, get a career, go back to school, pick up a hobby, gain self confidence so you do not have to be subject to the opinions of another partner. 

 

 

🌟 Laura’s Daily Intention🌟

An *accountability partner* is great to have when we’re tackling big goals. Today, think about someone you can have in your corner as your work to get productive.

World Day against Trafficking in Persons

posted on: July 27, 2018

I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way on this journey including the SWLA Abolitionists group, and other authors doing their part in spreading awareness. 

Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.

The United Nations has declared July 30th to be World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Use this Day to spread awareness in your area. Do podcasts, youtube videos or social media posts. I’d love to help! lauraaranda@owlofhope.com 

#HumanTrafficking #EndHumanTrafficking #pushingbackthedarkness

If you need someone to speak to your homeschool group, church or book club contact me! lauraaranda@owlofhope.com

 

Share our hashtags and create those difficult conversations this month so others can be aware. 

 

 

Impactjunkie Pitch notes at The Worklodge.

posted on: February 15, 2018

There are over 20 million people trafficked globally and this crime not including the porn industry profits an estimated $150 billion dollars a year.

Let me begin by sharing a true story of an average American family. We were raising a family. Buying a house. Working. My husband is a union crane operator working here in Houston. We were driving along the hwy in November 2014 when we came across a museum where I learned about the history and current problems of human trafficking and how relevant this is to today’s society.
That day changed the way I saw the world paround me. It was just the beginning for me. I went home realizing I wasn’t hearing enough about human trafficking.

Human trafficking is old bondage of people selling people for a profit, predators preying on vulnerabilities of the weak.

I began to study and According to the National center for missing and exploited children an estimated 2 million American kids runaway from home every year. Within 48 to 72 hours on the streets, one third fall into the hands of pornagraphy and prostitution.

I published a fiction novel In April of last year titled Pushing Back the Darkness and have sold hundreds of copies. I’m working with a team of eight writers and we are in the second phase of editing a curriculum now titled Called Out: A 16 session emotional healing and restoration curriculum for survivors of sexual abuse. Our goal is to have this published In July of this year.

I have been invited to teach and bring awareness to over thirty different settings and speaking engagements at churches, schools and libraries , but I want to scale these workshops and replicate them across America. Research your city and community. Human trafficking affects all of us.

My goal is to launch this program engaged in the fight to end modern-day slavery & help with aftercare of survivors. Through education and awareness we can bring Hope to those who have none. We can change the very communities we live in by making meaningful impact in a place of need. We have identified the problem and now we offer a solution. Thank you.

Those were my notes from the IMPACTJUNKIE meeting at the Worklodge which was an incredible place!!

The original Temple of #Solomon was built with cedars from #Lebanon. When the foundation of the new temple was laid, the description of simultaneous joy and weeping is noted in #Ezra chapter 3 :10-13. The older community remembered the former temple and the new generation was celebrating.

You will not find recorded here the grumbling, murmurs or complaints of the older crowd. One reads the sound was heard a far off and people couldn’t discern the noise of joy from the noise of grief and weeping. They did it together. Unity. The old hand in hand with the new.

There was no thought of “if it’s not done my way then we cannot work together”

The glorious praise was shouted when the expectation of the temple #foundation was laid and the first steps completed. They had a long journey a head of them but the work could not be done alone. The people had to work together in unity.

There was mourning for the loss and rememberance of the #destruction of the original temple but the glory of the New Temple would surpass that of the first.

How does that apply to Impactjunkie.co?????

What does that have to do with Tribes!?

Well, I believe that We must all work together and not have a “my way” mindset.

Or a hindsight viewpoint of constantly remembering the old ways and not putting our hand to the plow and helping with what’s going on today and now.

Today and #Tomorrow is a better day. We are headed to a bright future of the church if we work together to bring in the harvest and labor for souls #together.

Help your brother with his dream. Help your sister with her vision. Work together for the kingdom of God.

Impactjunkie.co may be a New thing but it is out there helping others and using the tools we have in our hands. Using our time

Talent and treasures today….get involved!

Interview with Rise Author, Hallie Schaefer

posted on: February 11, 2018

There’s a myth that has circulated for far too long. We all think we are too ordinary to make a difference and make a change. This author is an advocate, an Abolitionist and an author but what was her great win this week????

She learned a new recipe.

Let that sink in. She is just like you and I but she’s a voice. She is asking a change for something that matters. Meet Hallie Schaefer.

What is your career? 

– Right now, I’m a work-from-home mother of three. I do freelance writing when I get the chance and hope that writing and storytelling will be a career later on. Before this, I was a social worker for several years working with at risk youth.

What is a goal you have that’s worth working for, starting now? What are you passionate about?

– I’m passionate about stories. I think stories are what connects us to each other and makes us feel like we can relate to one another. My goal is to share stories of hope and that they encourage those that I meet along the way.

Can you explain what human trafficking in America means and looks like?

– It’s not the Hollywoodized version that many are used to seeing. It’s not the street fights, Liam Neeson style version. It’s quiet. It’s hidden. It could be someone falling in “love” with the wrong person, a person who forces them to do sexual things for money. It’s minors being abused and used as sex objects. It’s being emotionally, mentally, or physically abused by someone that forces you to do things you don’t want to do.

Tell us about your book. 

– “Rise”, while themed around human trafficking, focuses on hope. In the story, the girls face the realities of human trafficking, dealing with the guilt, pain, and shame. They find that God still loves them, no matter how they see themselves. This unconditional love helps them break free of the invisible bonds their traffickers held on them.

What exactly made you passionate about being an advocate and bringing awareness to human trafficking in America? 

– I learned about human trafficking in 2008, during my freshman year at college. I had never heard about it before, but after the summer reading requirement of Not For Sale by David Batstone, my passion for it just grew. I wanted others to know about it too. With more awareness, people are empowered to protect themselves from it and know the signs well enough to be able to save someone else from it.

What wins did you have this week?

– I learned a new recipe! Sweet potato flatbread. I’m pretty sure that I’m the world’s worst cook, so this was a huge win. Lol

Can you begin by telling me what made you decide to follow your career path?

– I’ve always loved to write. But when I was figuring out my major, writing wasn’t considered an option because it didn’t seem like a worthwhile thing to study, but more of a hobby. I chose psychology with the goal of one day getting my doctorate. After working in the field for a few years, I realized it was not my passion at all. I still longed to write. And now that is what I am doing, and I’m loving it!

What is there to be said of difficult life experiences and how can we transform them?

– Adversity shows us just how much we are capable of. We can choose to let it crush us, or we can grow from those experiences.

When was the last time you were out of your comfort zone?

– All of the time. Lol I have social anxiety, and when I’m presented suddenly with an unexpected situation that involves strangers, I tend to shut down. I had an interview with a human trafficking organization last week and when I was interviewing the CEO, everything was fine. But once she turned the interview around on me and started asking questions to get to know me and to learn about my book, I physically started shaking! I wasn’t scared, but my body just took over and I had to really fight against my natural flight response.

What is your favorite quote or mantra?

– It’s a bible verse. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I love that we are not defined by our pasts, but through Christ, we can be who we are supposed to be.

If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in your life, what would it be and why?

– Time. I would slow it down.

What advice would you give someone concerning Who they need to become in order to accomplish their wish/dream/goal?

– You already are that person. If you wait until you “have it all together” before you start your journey to accomplish that dream, you’ll never do it. Start now.

When do you feel like your true self?

– When I’m with my family. They’ve seen me on my best and worst days and still accept me for everything I am and for what I am not.

If you were the bravest version of yourself today, what would you be doing?

– I would be doing public speaking engagements, spreading awareness of human trafficking. And I wouldn’t be shaking while I do it.

What is keeping people from living their best life?

– Fear and self-doubt.

Do you have a nonprofit organization you admire or contribute to? 

– There are way too many to name. For this entire year, all proceeds of my book “Rise” will be going to human trafficking organizations dedicated to helping victims. Each month, I will choose a new one, highlighting them on my website.

How can people know more about that nonprofit? 

– I will be posting information about each organization each month so that others can learn about them.

How can individuals achieve goals without sacrificing their values?

– By keeping true to themselves and prioritizing.

How do we make our values a reality?

– By making a plan and a commitment to do so.

What are a few of your new year goals? 

– Figure out a better work/life balance and to do things I’m afraid to do.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what’s the easiest way(s) to reach you???

– Either my email info@hallie.schaefer.com or message me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/hallieschaefer.author/

Thank you for helping with exposure!! 🙂

https://hallieschaefer.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hallieschaefer.author/

https://twitter.com/HallieSchaefer1?lang=en

https://www.instagram.com/hallie.schaefer/

Girl, Taken – An interview with Author Elena Nikitina

posted on: February 6, 2018

Name:

Elena Nikitina

Age:

To me, age is a state of mind.  Depending on the day, I can feel myself anywhere between 18 and 90.

What are you passionate about? 

I’m an artist at heart.  I enjoy writing, painting and photography.  My other passions are Latin dance and shooting weapons at the range.  I love to work out and create things as well.  I love to design new stuff from scratch or transform ugly things into beautiful ones. I love fashion and my dream is to create a fashion clothing line one day. I’m also passionate about real estate – I’m a licensed agent in Ohio.

What human trafficking looks like and how does it affect American youth? 

Human trafficking is illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor.  Behind those words there are many broken human lives.  Each story is an incredible tragedy of a person who is torn away from his normal life and deprived of his freedom and human rights.

Young people are particularly vulnerable, as criminals can find victims and manipulate them through internet, social media and private chats. One report cited “13 years old as the most common age in Ohio for youth to become victims of child sex trafficking”.

What motivated you to write a book and more importantly what inspired you to get involved with bringing awareness to human trafficking? 

The book Girl, Taken – is a true story about kidnapping and survival.  The plot of my book took place in real life and I just described it in my own words.

I saw and experienced things no one should have to go through.  I’m sure that right now, right at this particular moment, there is someone who is suffering from being a victim of kidnapping or trafficking or facing a similar ordeal in life.  I wanted to deliver a message to those who seek hope or to those who are about to give up. Hope and faith should never leave you, even in the moment of total and all-consuming despair.

Every human trafficking story looks similar to mine.  The incredible tragedy that involves not only one person – it’s an adversity for all family members.  Unfortunately, most people consider human trafficking as a problem of the past or believe that it is limited to being outside the United States only. Only by bringing awareness and education about this problem taking place everywhere there will be a chance to fight this crime.

Tell us a few statistics concerning human trafficking in your city and the surrounding areas. 

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including Ohio.  Ohio ranks number five in the nation for the most human trafficking cases. Last year, 375 Ohio trafficking cases were reported based on calls to the national hotline–according to Polaris, a nonprofit organization that tracks human trafficking cases in America and across the world.

If any readers might think a loved one is in harm’s way what would be a few actions you would suggest so they can get the help they need?

The professional help from the therapist and a good family environment are the best sources, in my opinion.

What steps did you take to begin bringing awareness and getting involved?

I’m at the very beginning of my journey at the moment. I think social media is the best way to bring the awareness.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? 

Through the horrifying months of my captivity – witnessing atrocities, surviving bombings and sexual violence, and trapped in a land where countless people were dying every day, I fought desperately to stay alive, stay sane and not lose the one thing that kept me going – my hope.

We never know what we are capable of until we are placed in a situation when you have to make a choice – stay strong or break down.  Choose to remain a victim or choose to become a survivor.

At some point, I decided for myself – I wanted to be a survivor and not a victim.  I like to believe we can all make this choice, no matter the hardships we face in life.

What advice would you give to parents of youth? 

Pay attention and talk to your children.  Be proud of what they are accomplishing.  Love them.

So many people have dreams and want to start nonprofits or businesses because they have a burning desire to change the world. They want to be men or women of influence with a powerful message. Then doubt sets in or failure happens. 

-What are your thoughts about this? 

Robert Kiyosaki – famous American businessman and author – once said: “Winners are not afraid of losing.  But losers are.  Failure is part of the process of success.  People who avoid failure also avoid success”.

Pursuing things that truly matter gives people a sense of purpose and this, in turn, will help people persevere in their pursuits.

-What would your message to these people include? 

Take a risk to make a difference.  If you win, you will be happy.  If you lose, you learn.

What is your favorite quote or mantra?

This too shall pass.

My favorite of all times, meaning that nothing is permanent.

When everything is good, remember that it won’t last forever. So, enjoy and cherish it while you can. When things are bad, remember that it won’t last forever. Have faith, bad times eventually will pass.

What motivates you?

Achieving the desired results motivates me.

When was the last time you were out of your comfort zone?

A few days ago, I was honored to give a public speech about my book Girl, Taken.  That was something I have never done before and had zero experience with. I was way out of my comfort zone.

What are your most important gifts you have to offer your city and state?

Every voice has an influence. Many voices have the power to change the world or to stop a crime.  To be involved in the organization or a group with like-minded people – is a gift that every citizen should offer to their community to improve the quality of life.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what would be the easiest way to reach you? 

The best way to reach me is through one of my social media accounts:

www.girltaken.com

https://www.facebook.com/elenaleonidovnanikitina

https://www.facebook.com/girltaken.truestory/

https://www.instagram.com/elena.l.nikitina/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsURhjE6wpOR_yo9ANWWAw/videos?view_as=subscriber

Is there anything else you want me to know that will help me write this article?

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a book Girl, Taken – A True Story of Abduction, Captivity and Survival.  In 1994, just after my 21st birthday, I was drugged and abducted from my hometown in southern Russia by a group of gangsters. The idea was to hold me for ransom, but an unfortunate thing happened.  Soon after my kidnapping, the first Russian-Chechen War broke out…

I would love to share my story with the readers of your blog.

Readers love Girl, Taken.

Here’s a small sample of what they are saying:

“This book will astonish and inspire you.  It is the harrowing tale of a young woman who saved her own life through nothing more than courage, determination, and inner strength.”

“One of the best books I’ve read in the past few years…”

“Girl, Taken kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.  She is lucky to be alive.  Very intense, hard to put it down.  I would definitely suggest you enjoy the book for yourself and feel what it’s like to be kidnapped…”

Girl, Taken – A True Story of Abduction, Captivity and Survival.  You can check it out on Amazon

Human Trafficking Awareness Interview with Michigan State Police Trooper Steven Kramer of Flint Post

posted on: January 29, 2018

Interview with Flint, Michigan State Trooper, Steven Kramer

Steven A. Kramer, age 44 is a community Service Trooper of Michigan State Police-Flint Post. For over the last four years, Trooper Kramer has pledged to do something to change the dynamics of the way human trafficking is viewed and dealt with in Flint, Michigan. Flint is well-known as the city drowning in so many other problems and fighting so many difficult obstacles. Studying online recorded the racial make-up of Flint consists of 57% black; 37% white while 42% of Flint residents live below the poverty line. The average household income is only $39,000.

Flint has ranked as one of America’s most dangerous cities for several years based on FBI crime statistics of violent crimes per capita.

Human Trafficking is just one more nightmare this city is trying to combat.
Human trafficking is both sex and labor trafficking.  It is a form of modern-day slavery that occurs around the world and in the United States.  It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person through the use of FORCE, FRAUD, or COERCION.  ANYONE can be a victim of human trafficking and ANYONE can be a trafficker. Flint and Michigan State Police are hoping to bridge the gap with Flint neighborhoods.

Below is an interview with one of the heroes on Flint, Michigan streets.

 
How long have you worked in this field?
I have been with the Michigan State Police for twenty years.  I have been in my current role as a Community Service Trooper /Recruiter for almost five years.   I have been involved with Human Trafficking awareness for about the last four years.  My partner, Trooper Amy Belanger  also works in this field and is heavily involved with human trafficking.  We have been partners for about three and a half years.
 
What are you passionate about?
I would say I’m very passionate about my job, especially  the work I am currently doing with the community. One message I want the world to understand is there is no such thing as a juvenile prostitute! If they are under age, it is trafficking!

What does Human Trafficking look like and how does it affect American Youth?
This is a tough question to answer, because it can look like so many different things.
Human trafficking is a crime that affects victims of any age, gender, race, or immigration status. Human trafficking occurs in all parts of this country – from cities, to suburbs, to rural areas.

Traffickers/Pimps are constantly coming up with new ways to lure our youth into this lifestyle.  They prey on desperation, curiosity, and naivety. 

Pimps/Traffickers can be girls, women, boys, young men, and older men.  Many kids are runaways at the time of recruitment.  Between 100,000 and 200,000 of United States Children are taken into trafficking each year.  The desired starting age is twelve to thirteen for girls and twelve years old for boys.

What motivated you to become a state trooper and more importantly what inspired you to get involved with bringing awareness to human trafficking?
My main motivation to become a State Trooper was my father.  My father worked for and retired from the Detroit Police Department as a Detective Sgt.   For as long as I can remember, being a police officer is all I ever wanted to be.  I look up to my father and have much respect for him.  I guess I wanted to follow in his footsteps.  It was his suggestion to join the Michigan State Police if I really wanted to be a police officer.
I would say the more I learned about human trafficking and how it happens everywhere, I became interested in seeing what I could do to help.
I joined the Genesee County Human Trafficking task force and began to learn more about it.   I also attended presentations from victims speaking about their experiences.   I see how it happens and how it affects our communities.  I felt that helping to educate the community was a great way to help.

Tell us a few statistics concerning human trafficking in Flint, Michigan and the surrounding areas.
It happens in Flint, Michigan the same way it happens everywhere in the United States.
Some interesting statistics:

  • 62% of victims are tricked into trafficking by someone they know and trust (boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, ect.).
  • 35% of victims are sold into human trafficking by their own family.
    Only 3% of victims are kidnapped.
  • Every year, 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Every minute, two children become victims of sexual exploitation.
    A trafficker/pimp will know within seconds of contacting their victim if they “got them”.
  • It takes as little as 8 minutes for a trafficker to win over his/her target.
  • 90% of all the children trafficked for sexual purposes are American children.
  • There are as many as 2.8 million runaway children each year in the U.S.
  • Within 48 hours of a child being on the street, 1 in 3 will be approached by a sex trafficker.
  • The most common approach is the “lover boy” approach.
  • This is where the trafficker will appear interested in a romantic relationship while gradually coercing the victim into prostitution.

If any readers might think a loved one is in harm’s way what would be a few actions you would suggest so they can get the help they need?
Be aware of and look for the warning signs.
Some warning signs of a victim include:

  • unexplained absences from school,
  • inability to attend school,
  • runs away from home,
  • makes references to frequent travel,
  • sudden changes in behavior or material possessions,
  • makes reference to sexual situations that are beyond ages specific norms,
  • drug addiction,
  • signs of physical abuse,
  • Avoids eye contact,
  • fearful of authority figures.

There is a lot of valuable information online at sources like the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Polaris project, and many more.

The National Human Trafficking hotline number is 888-373-7888
 

What steps did you take to begin bringing awareness and getting involved?

I am a member of the Genesee County and Shiawassee County Human Trafficking task forces.  I give presentations on human trafficking awareness at:
churches,
schools,
community action groups,
neighborhood associations,
Law enforcement,
Fire stations,
EMS,
Medical professionals,
and anyone who requests one.

What advice would you give to parents of youth?
Monitor your children’s activity!!!  I can’t stress that enough.  Kids today have cell phones, tablets, computers with basically unlimited access to the Internet.  Parents are too trusting of their kids.  We should be keeping tabs on what our kids are doing!
There is no such thing as violating your kids privacy when they are under 18!! 
You should know what your kids are doing online including:

  • Who they’re talking to,
  • Apps on their phones,
  • Online places visited.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what would be the easiest way to reach you?
The best way to contact me is via Email: KramerS1@michigan.gov
Storytelling is never going to go away. I am honored to have the opportunity to be an outlet of sorts to bring honor to

Michigan State Police Trooper
Steven A. Kramer
Flint Post
Community Service Trooper/Recruiter

Men like Steven need to be recognized for all they do to help open eyes and bring awareness to the crisis of human trafficking in Flint, Michigan and around our country. Together as a community and as a country we can make small steps to help bring awareness and support to those affected by human trafficking.

One person that has been personally impacted by his actions is Rebecca Huey. I’ve spoke with her many times. She’s a phenomenal person.
She had the privilege to meet Michigan State Police Officer Trooper Kramer, Flint Post when she was a special guest speaker as a Christian Actress for a Human Trafficking event held by the Genessee County Medical Society Alliance in 2015.

Now as an Entrepreneur, Actress and Motivational Speaker, Rebecca Huey’s life has been changed for the positive by being able to share her story with Trooper Kramer which gave her the opportunity to begin to heal. Over time, she was able to share with Trooper Kramer her story and journey and how she is overcoming and excelling today.
Rebecca is an American actress known for her award-winning role Store Clerk “Best Cast” in redemptive romance feature film Providence that came to theaters in February of 2016. She was nominated and chosen Top 10 and Top 3 in 2015 and Top 1 in 2016-2017 by fans from across the world and Faith Flix Films, Tennessee for her press release interview.
Faith Flix Films released her interview in 2015 and it has traveled around the world bringing many others hope – the only hope that can be found in Jesus Christ.


Rebecca is also a female business entrepreneur that holds a business degree from a private college and is the owner of Education Creation LLC with Trademark Cursive Kidz™.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8830953/

So in her words concerning Trooper Kramer:

He is a voice for me and so many others that don’t have the strength to speak right away. He has gone above and beyond his job. He deserves to be honored and recognized for his sacrificial hard work, tireless effort to help others, superior dedication to combat human trafficking and for being a loyal trusted voice for those that don’t have the strength to speak. 
He is doing so much to help so many others in human trafficking in Michigan. He has helped me more than he will ever know and he deserves to be recognized for all he is doing. -Rebecca M. Huey 

America tips her hat to you, sir. Thank you. Keep up the good fight. We stand with you.

Written by Author Laura Aranda who published her first novel titled, Pushing Back the Darkness in April 2017. This novel brings awareness to human trafficking in America. You can find the book on Amazon or at her blog: Www.authorlauraaranda.com

For speaking engagements email: lauraaranda@owlofhope.com

Helping Families Succeed-my interview with Carrie Dean of Calcasieu Parish Police Jury/ Office of Juvenile Justice Services

posted on: January 23, 2018

I am doing a happy dance about sharing this incredible lady’s interview with my readers today. Carrie Dean is an incredible woman, visionary, mentor and friend. I truly am glad God allowed our paths to cross several months back when I first published my novel. Enjoy learning more about what she does.

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month and this is one of the people I wanted to introduce my readers to.

Meet Carrie Dean.

What is your career? I am employed by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury/Office of Juvenile Justice Services. I have been a counselor, probation officer, supervisor and grant manager. My career is helping children, youth and families for the last twenty-eight years.

What is a goal you have that’s worth working for, starting now? To develop an effective task force to educate the public and to assist victims of sex trafficking with services to reduce the effects of their trauma.

 What are you passionate about? Helping struggling families and helping youth realize they can succeed despite family history.  I am especially passionate toward making a difference in youth’s lives.

Can you explain what human trafficking in America means and looks like? It means modern day slavery.  It is the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. Human trafficking with minors is child abuse as they cannot consent to sexual activity.

What do you do that helps a girl that has runway? Listen and believe, find a safe place, set up counseling with a trained therapist in trauma.

What exactly made you passionate about being an advocate and bringing awareness to human trafficking in America? I have been interested in human trafficking for several years, but seeing firsthand the young girls in our area being victims opened my eyes. It is here, it is NOW.  

What wins did you have in the past few weeks? I guess during the holidays and being on vacation gave me some time for reflection. It was time to regroup ideas, efforts and goals for 2018.

Can you begin by telling me what made you decide to follow your career path? I have always been interested in psychology and I’ve always communicated well with children and youth.  I didn’t know where these interest would lead me, but after college and a few different jobs, I ended up at the juvenile office and after 28 years, I still love what I do.  

What is there to be said of difficult life experiences and how can we transform them? I had quite a bit of difficult life experiences in my youth that could have resulted in different outcomes. It’s a choice you have to make and good choices are a lot easier when you have a good support system.  Good support and mentorship can come from family, friends, churches and community, and this is so important, especially to our youth.   

 

When was the last time you were out of your comfort zone? I think this happens every day if you act on your beliefs and don’t change for others.

What is your favorite quote or mantra? This is a hard one. I love quotes. I have two taped to my desk.

1. You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins. 

2. You should never treat people in different ways because of their outward appearance.

If you had a magic wand and could change one thing in your life, what would it be and why? There are too many ramifications to change one thing in your life. If you change one factor, it changes more than that one thing. So, no I wouldn’t change anything due to consequential changes of other factors. It is tempting, but not worth the risk.  

What advice would you give someone concerning Who they need to become in order to accomplish their wish/dream/goal?Don’t “become” anyone. Be yourself and your dream/wish or goal will appear and you can work toward it.

When do you feel like your true self? Helping families succeed.

If you were the bravest version of yourself today, what would you be doing? Probably the same thing, only being more assertive on what I believe in and want.

What is keeping people from living their best life? Fear of failure or ridicule.

Do you have a nonprofit organization you admire or contribute to? The ones that monies go to the cause and not in someone’s personal pocket.

How can people know more about that nonprofit? AWARENESS

How can individuals achieve goals without sacrificing their values? Stay true to yourself and never compromise values. It is not worth it. Research your goals and put in the hard work.

How do we make our values a reality? Never stop!!

What are a few of your new year goals?  To find additional funding for Human Trafficking services and obtain additional training in this area.

If anyone is interested in contacting you further what’s the easiest way(s) to reach you?  cdean@cppj.net  or 337-802-1813

📝Interview with Khaliah Williams on 🛍️No Spend 🛒January, mentorship, 🎊New Year goals 2018🎊

posted on: December 24, 2017

Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. Can you tell the readers a little more about yourself? 

       Hi Everyone! I’m Khaliah Williams. I was born & raised in Pensacola, FL. I am a Full-time Mom, Wife, Worker, Student, Couponer and Contest Enterer! (I’ve entered more than 300 contests this year and so far, I have won 36.) I am married to the love of my life and we have 2 small children. I enjoy journaling, writing, reading and helping my community in any way that I can.

Explain No-Spend November to the audience.

     No-Spend November is a no spend challenge that anyone may take part in. It is where you make a commitment to not spend any extra money outside of your monthly written budget. This would include but not be limited to, not eating out, no coffee stops, no Target trips … (I love Target, though!). But you should commit to not spend anything outside of your normal month to month bills/budget that you have created previously.

Why did you decide to participate in the event?

    My husband and I decided to take on this challenge because we recently started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Course & Baby Steps for the 2nd time. We originally started in Summer 2015, but quickly lost motivation and our purpose at that particular time. We are more than READY, and more than willing to do everything possible to live like no one now, so we can live like no one later, as Dave Ramsey says.

How can someone get involved with that event if they wanted to? 

    If you would like to join the No Spend Challenges, and be able to be involved in other frugal living & budgeting lifestyles you can join several Facebook groups that will help you reach this goal. A list of these groups will be provided at the end. And if we can do it, I do believe that anyone can!

Are there any more events like that one coming up soon? 

Yes! No Spend January will be starting Jan. 1. You can take part of the challenge by joining the noted Facebook “No Spend” groups at the end of this interview.

Do you see a positive change in the way this has helped your family?

       Yes! It has forced us to become more accountable for our spending habits. It has helped us become more caution of where all of our hard earn money is spent. It has also made us happier to know that there are support groups and other families just like us who all have the same financial goals in mind! You are never alone in this.

How has this event changed your family’s spending habits?

We have cut back on all of our “extras”, for example .. I’ve cut my Sirius Radio Subscription, two educational apps/websites for our oldest, and my Chegg’s Study subscription that I used for school. It has been 1 year since we cut our cable bundle as well! Our bundled bill decreased from $202 down to $104 and just recently to $94/month for just internet. This is currently the best promotion that our provider has to offer with their fastest internet speed. So in my book, it’s a win win for both of us.

What are your goals spiritually, financially and even emotionally for 2018? 

   Spiritually – I’d like to attend church more often. We have committed to attending church at least three times a month, if not four. We have vowed to pray more, and worry less in 2018!

    Financially – Recently my husband & I sat down and wrote out our financial goals for 2018 and a few of them are; Maintain a zero based budget each and every month. This means that every single dollar that we have has a “name” and place to go. This will help hold us more accountable especially while doing the No Spend Challenges. We will continue to vow to always pay ourselves first, meaning our savings and 4-Walls first then pleasure later. We have made goals to not only double our Baby Emergency Fund per Dave Ramsey, but to become consumer debt free! All credit cards, all student loans and even our leased phones will be PAID IN FULL by 12/31/18.

    Emotionally – I vowed to pray at least twice a day, everyday to help me remain strong and focus within myself and my faith. I have also decided that I will take 5-10 mins each and everyday to read my devotional and continue my journaling as planned, along with this I’d like to implement some type of mediation time to rejuvenate my mind, body and soul and remain focused on what my purpose in life is.

You are in college? What do you go to school for? 

  Yes, I am. I am in college for my AS in Business Administration. I am currently on track to graduate on May 7th, 2018. I then plan to take 1 class during Summer 2018, and pick up in the Fall with another 3-4 classes in pursue of my Bachelor’s in Human Resources/Business Management.

You told me a really great story about your extra income.

Can you tell me a little about your extra job babysitting? 

About 2 months ago, I was asked by a old high school friend if I would be able to watch her kids for her while she worked. I told her sure, I didn’t mind. Not expecting to be compensated at all for this, my kids and her kids had a play date. I provided pizza, drinks, snacks and they all hung out together, played and watched movies. Upon the arrival of my friend, she handed me an envelope and said “Thank You”. Little did I know, there was cash in the envelope as a sincere “Thank You”. She knew that if I would have seen it beforehand, I would have given it back to her as I wouldn’t have charged her at all. This happened a few more times, and each time she refused to allow me to say “No”. The funding provided covered the cost of the food and other items that I purchased for the kids while on their play date.

I was compelled to talk about your part time extra job because of what I have written concerning human trafficking. Do you think there is any correlation between the two? 

     After our first play date I then became aware that my friend was an exotic dancer at a Gentlemen’s Club in our area. I never judge anyone, and I’d never judge her so it didn’t bother me at all, nor was I shocked or even surprised. At that point, I actually felt really good about watching her children as everyone else she knew, judged her, wouldn’t help her and so she was forced to allow borderline strangers watch her kids while she worked. I knew that her kids enjoyed coming over, and that my kids enjoyed them and that they all were in a very safe environment.

     I do think there is a correlation between human trafficking, and exotic dancers etc. And that correlation may include things like, the fact that some younger girls may find themselves just dancing at a local club but in reality they are more at risk to be picked up by someone whose into human trafficking. By being in those types of places, especially during late nights and other peak times is one thing that may put them more at that level of danger. I believe that our young women who are a part of human trafficking were first introduced to it either in a club setting, or in a similar environment. This is why it is so very important to educate our young girls and women on the signs and reg flags to look for in order to avoid these things and to help save more lives.

You mentioned your home church was Apostolic. Can you talk about your days in church. How does church positively influence your life and walk with God?

Yes, our home church is Holiness/Apostolic Faith. Both my husband and I grew up in church. I remember sleeping on the back pews at Wednesday night services, helping my grandmother cook, dye eggs and make other various things for church functions as well. Over the years, we haven’t been attending church as much as we should have or as much as we would have liked, but it positively influences my life and my current walk with God because I know that he is real, he hears all, and he sees all. He sees the good, bad, ugly and uglier. But regardless of any of that, he still shows his continuous love and support for us as his children. When I keep reminding myself of that, my heart smiles!

You mentioned your grandmother. Was she a mentor of yours? How did she affect your walk with the Lord and what church means to you?

Whew. I get goosebumps as I speak about her as she went home to be with the Lord on 10/13/2013. Yes, she was my #1 Mentor right next to my Mom. We loved her and still love and miss her VERY much. She was always very positive, well spoken, loving, god-fearing and church driven. She constantly talked to me about doing the right thing, giving back, praying, and seeking Jesus. I must admit that I attended church more when she was alive than I do right now. She encouraged me to go, and be involved. This is another reason why I believe that this is the perfect time for me to get back into church and continue my walk with the Lord. 

Church means various things to me, It means that you believe in something, you have a ‘place’ you can go and worship what you believe in, I also refer to it as a “gathering” and “fellowship” with brothers & sisters of Jesus Christ. I also like to think of it as, a learning and teaching environment. You are learning more about Jesus, his word, his works and his purpose.

Do you have any advice for someone who doesn’t feel like church is as important in their life?

One of the things that I say a lot is, “Everything is not meant for everyone.” You will know when it is right for you as you may change the way you feel, and your outlook on things. So, I’d suggest firstly to surround yourself with positive, like minded people. Find a community based event or group that you would like to be involved in, neighborhood watch, workout groups, mom/parenting groups etc. Once you find it, and begin to build relationships … you may be asked or given the opportunity to attend a religion based event, such as Easter Services, NYE Services etc and at which point, if you feel comfortable enough … give it a shot. Prior to this, you can also ask your friends or neighbors that you have gotten involved in about churches, support groups etc. Make the decision for yourself, but don’t knock it until you have tried it. 🙂

You have been on the news. Can you talk about that?

   Yes, I’ve been on the news several times. A few times in my younger days and more recently in January of 2016. The interviews/stories were centered around the School Choice Program/Florida’s A+ Plan that Former Governor Jeb Bush signed in 1999. I was the first student in North West Florida to be given a full scholarship to attend any local Private School chosen by my Mother. This was made available to me because all of the public schools in my district were failing schools. It was a great experience, it gave me opportunities that I have not have been given before, I made a ton of new friends and associates all while receiving a great education and then being accepted in the Law Academy in 2007 in High School. I believe that opportunity has helped, mold and shape the person that I am today.

Where can we find out more about your business(es)? Websites? Blogs? Social media platforms? How can readers stay in contact with you?

I am Founder/Admin of 5 Facebook Groups but the following are the groups closely related to Frugal Living, Budgeting, Meal Prepping and all of the support you need to take on the various challenges.

– Gulf Coast’s Frugal Family Life. (My own personal group)

– No Spend

https://www.facebook.com/groups/166364437436087/

– Frugal Family Food

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1171483046225309/

– Frugal Family Life

https://www.facebook.com/groups/frugalfamilylife/

I hope you all will take on the various challenges with me!

If you ever need anything or have any questions you can contact me at Khaliah.Williams@aol.com

Pray more and worry less.

Happy Hoildays.

                       – Khaliah

  Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. God bless!

Public Speaker & Author of Pushing Back the Darkness,

a faith-based novel concerning human trafficking in America.

http://www.mydamselpro.net/AuthorLauraAranda/

www.AuthorLauraAranda.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraAranda/