My daughter was 10 the first time I heard that children were being bought and sold for sex in my community. These weren’t foreign children born in a foreign country, they were boys and girls born and raised right here in my own town. That day changed me.
Being a business leader gave me a natural platform to raise awareness about Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)—and I used it. I discovered Shared Hope International while preparing for a local panel on trafficking and I appreciated that Shared Hope was working on the issue internationally, nationally, and locally, going so far as to supporting a restoration home for female survivors in my region.
In 2016 I decided to go beyond speaking about DMST and actively do something to help make a difference in the lives of victims of this crime. My friend Lisa Stirrett is a local glass artist who uses her studio to host community events. She also has a heart for this issue. The idea formed for a Party with a Purpose, in which she would create glass butterflies that could be sold as part of a fundraiser for Shared Hope and those they serve. We sold about 50 butterflies, many of which were donated back to create a larger piece in progress. And we didn’t stop there!
Lisa has added the glass butterflies to her Products with a Purpose line as a way to continue the momentum and to provide a fundraising mechanism to give back to Shared Hope. Each butterfly purchased and donated back to the Lisa Stirrett Glass Studio will become part of a Butterfly Art Wall known as “Chrysalis,” with the net profits donated to Shared Hope. This wall will be a beautiful visual representation of the voices and lives of girls and women in trafficking being set free. We are currently in need of 50 more butterflies to complete the wall, and once it’s done, this will become a traveling art display housed in a public location to create ongoing awareness and to further the momentum of the cause. You can purchase them here.
This is our desire—creating an art movement of butterflies flying freely to represent an end to the pain and suffering caused to young girls and women because of the sex trafficking industry. In addition to collaborating with Lisa Stirrett Glass Art Studio, I am partnering with Shared Hope International because of the great work they are doing locally, nationally, and globally to educate and empower others to end sex trafficking.
So what can you do to end the demand of our children by traffickers and buyers?
I think the most important thing we as individuals can do is leverage our natural born gifts and talents where we’re already engaged. My background is business, Lisa’s is through art. Yours is uniquely suited to you. Whatever it is, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” as shared by Margaret Mead. Together, with our community, we are making a difference to end trafficking… and you can too.