Shared Hope International established the Ambassador of Hope program to educate, equip and connect dedicated activists to meaningful service opportunities so they can impact their community and the movement of sex trafficking.
Shared Hope Ambassador, Wendi Russo, decided to use her skills, talents and influence to make a difference. Wendi Russo has been a host on ShopHQ for nine years, presenting fashion, beauty products, and jewelry. Wendi was named Mrs. Minnesota United States in 2010.
Wendi learned about the prevalence of child sex trafficking through Facebook.
I didn’t understand how laws were just changing to name a child as a victim rather than being arrested for prostitution. I see so many walks for breast cancer and every kind of cancer, but not a lot of publicity and action taken to create awareness around child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
As a mother, Wendi related to the grave fear of losing a child to the violent and consuming commercial sex industry.
Reading the stories of victims, seeing women who were victimized as children stepping forward after horrific experiences to tell their story and help others, broke my heart for all of the children who continue to be abused and manipulated. As a mother to a 9-year old, my greatest fear is for her to be abducted, manipulated or sold. I imagined the pain of a child having their own family use them to produce pornography and physically sell them… I wanted to do something.
Despite Wendi’s desire to contribute towards the anti-trafficking movement, she didn’t always have support in her efforts.
Being a former pageant competitor, I would have pageant coaches tell me that [sex trafficking] was not a topic that judges wanted to hear about in the interview room, but I feel it is one of the most important problems facing our children today. They need protection. They need education on how to avoid being manipulated and laws that also protect them…
Using her experience in the fashion industry, Wendi started an online auction through A-List Treasures to help raise money. Thanks to the help of friends, all expenses are covered, allowing 100% of the proceeds to be donated to Shared Hope International.
I love fashion and chose to host an online auction with Celebrity Auction Website A-List Treasures (http://www.alisttreasures.com/). I have listed designer or pageant clothing, accessories, makeup artist lessons, makeup, jewelry, and recruited help and donations from national and state titleholders to help bring attention to the topic across pageant systems, with the goal of raising more money.
I hope to make a small financial impact in what Shared Hope International does…but more than that, I hope to raise awareness, help remove the stigma of talking about sexual abuse issues, and give hope to those who feel no one cares about them. Because guess what? I do.
If you are interested in participating in the auction, visit: http://alisttreasures.com/Browse/R159831/Pageant_Queen_Auction