Letter from our President and Founder, Linda Smith
I was recently asked how Shared Hope defines success. It’s a good question, but one so difficult to answer. For Ruthie, a young woman who fled from her trafficker to protect her newborn child, success means one more day in our care at Terry’s House and one day further from her former life of exploitation. Yet for others success looks so different. Success means graduating after working 13 years toward a bachelor’s degree, a pursuit so tragically interrupted by trafficking. Success means marriages, graduations, the birth of a child, holding a full-time job, no longer relying on drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, seeking help, helping others out, living in freedom.
We claim victory when our advocacy support results in the passage of new laws that strengthen state and federal response to trafficking. We celebrate when law enforcement and prosecutors from across the nation begin to implement new techniques and operations to recover children and criminalize perpetrators, inspired by the training they receive at our JuST Conference. The pride we felt in introducing friends and supporters at the Night of Hope events to the four young adults from Nepal who are thriving because of our longstanding commitment to fund their Village of Hope – a living reminder of our success.
But this success was not possible without you. We rely on the generosity of our supporters—donating their time, talent, money and influence to advance the movement and bring lasting change.
Thank you for standing with us as we reflect on our past success and look boldly forward to what we will achieve together in the coming years.
President & Founder
If we are serious about eradicating trafficking, we have to start at the source. We carried our youth sex trafficking prevention resource, Chosen, into schools, youth groups, and community events to equip parents and youth to identify trafficking and stand against it. We equipped law enforcement agents, prosecutors, service providers and other professionals in the field with the knowledge and network to tackle trafficking through our training programs.
Today, departments have formed new collaborative groups to run operations to recover victims and capture buyers and traffickers. In response to the emerging trend of gang sex trafficking, we released Gang TRAP, a training video for law enforcement agents and prosecutors, and Chosen Gang Edition, an awareness video for students and parents, to explain how gangs recruit victims, why gang trafficking is becoming increasingly common, and how they can identify and respond to this new threat.
Our “Children Aren’t Playthings” dollbox awareness exhibit, created by Brunner, and hosted at the 2013 Sharing the Hope event in Washington D.C., took Gold in the 2014 Atlanta ADDY Awards for Public Service Non-Traditional advertising. This would not be possible without our growing team of dedicated Ambassadors of Hope who bring awareness to their communities.
We offer shelter, medical and mental health care, spiritual renewal, education, life skills, job training and vocational programs through 12 grant partners in five countries. We continue to build confidence and financial independence for women enrolled in our Women’s Investment Network (WIN) job skills training program operating in the U.S., Jamaica, Nepal and India. We opened the doors of our first domestic shelter, Terry’s House, to welcome young women into a safe, loving home as they pursue education or job training.
In 2014, we launched the JuST Response to bring together Shared Hope’s research on services for domestic minor sex trafficking victims with its analysis of state statutory protective responses to inform legislative efforts and the implementation of existing responses. We convened experts from around the country to explore emerging practices in shelter and service provision and hosted a Congressional Briefing in partnership with the Victims’ Rights Caucus that was attended by more than 100 individuals and included representatives from Congress, the White House and the Administration of Children and Families.
In October 2014, accompanied by Asha Nepal founder Bimala Thapa, four young people – Manisha, Pooja, Ajay and Savita – traveled from their Village of Hope in Nepal to the U.S. to celebrate Shared Hope’s 16th Anniversary at Night of Hope events across the country. They were honored to meet the supporters who have faithfully contributed to their care for the past decade. Meeting these four kind, healthy, thriving young adults inspired donors to see the lasting impact of their ongoing support.
Shared Hope is committed to bringing justice to victims of sex trafficking by supporting the development of federal and state policies and legislation. We provide comprehensive research, expert testimony, coalition support, and advocacy initiatives to strengthen trafficking laws and build better policies to protect victims and prosecute traffickers, buyers, and facilitators.
In 2014, we released the 4th Annual Protected Innocence Challenge Report, finding that 37 states enacted 123 bills related to domestic minor sex trafficking which allowed 8 states to raise their grade!
- We brought legal and advocacy assistance to 21 states and saw 8 states strengthen their laws and raise their Protected Innocence grade!
We celebrated the passage of the Federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care Act. Shared Hope advocates sent letters to their congressional representatives through our Legislative Action Center and our staff participated in federal working groups to help implement the new legislation.
Shared Hope International joined National Crime Victim Law Institute, Covenant House New York and Human Rights Project for Girls in filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the Washington State Supreme Court to allow the case of three juvenile sex trafficking victims, who filed a lawsuit against Backpage.com, to proceed, giving the child victims the right to seek justice and have their day in court.
In August 2014, we released The Demanding Justice Project, a landmark study on buyers of commercial sex with minors and corresponding website. The research documents the outcomes of federal and state arrests, charges and prosecutions of buyers of sex acts with children to inform advocacy efforts to strengthen anti-demand legislation and enforcement.
2013-2014 Board Members
- Marjie Austen Physical Therapist Assistant Kaiser Permanente
- Sandra Goh Director of Business Management, Singapore Microsoft Corporation
- Sue Hotelling Senior Program Manager Microsoft Corporation
- Dan O’Bryant SHI Chairman of Board Consultant Eickmann Group LLC
- Nick Lembo Pastor Generations Church
- Linda Smith Founder and President Shared Hope International
- Vernon Smith Engineer Burlington Northern Railroad
- Curtis Lind, Jr. SHI Secretary/Treasurer Int’l/Global Mobility HR Manager Columbia Sportswear Co