Guest blog post by Daniela Castro about the Freedom Outreach:
I have had the pleasure of working with the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center’s Freedom Outreach since October of 2017. Christie Arnold, who founded the Outreach and continues to pour her heart and efforts into this, came to Florida State University’s International Justice Mission general body meeting to inform us about this initiative. Many members were eager to aid, including me. Often times, college students involved in human rights organizations want to do so much to stop and prevent further human trafficking within the United States and internationally, but the extent to which we can do our part is often times limited to advocacy. Thanks to this outreach, we get to do work that comes alive in our neighborhood.
Since our inception we have established eleven partnerships with local hotels and motels. It is amazing to be a part of something that continues to grow and make an impact. Each month we restock bins at our established partnerships and attempt to create new partnerships. After re-visiting certain lodgings, we have been told by receptionists that they have witnessed prostituted women come through their quarters. While it is heartbreaking, it is comforting to know that the lip balms labeled with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number 1-888-3737-888 have the potential of helping a victim escape. That is our dearest hope.
Late January, a few members of the outreach went to the Imagining Freedom Culinary Tasting at the Turnbull Center where we were able to learn about our roles as consumers through food and drink, in effort to raise awareness about sex and labor trafficking. There, Christie was able to recruit more members and inform the public about the work we do. I was honored to be invited and learn about the work being done throughout Tallahassee. Just after that event, many members also attended the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights Evolving In the U.S. Anti-Trafficking Field Conference.
We held another labeling party early March. It was wonderful to see the vast amount of lip balm donations get readied for the outreach and converse about our future goals. As the number of partnerships increases, our hope is that we can strengthen these relationships and begin labeling bar soaps so that every person has the potential of being reached, not just those who pass through the front desk of hotels.
If you are interested in joining our team, we welcome all and encourage you to come out. Please reach out to Christie Arnold via email if you have any interest or questions. Feel free to contact me as well via email if you are a student with questions about involvement or information on human rights student body organizations on the FSU campus.