Philanthropy

Doing What You Love Creates Good Karma

filmmaker, founder 360 Degree Karma

Catherine Gray

Filmmaker, Catherine Gray founded 360 Karma as a platform for her initiatives to inspire and empower women through her many film and event productions, including the “Live, Love Thrive” talk show and conference and her new “She Angel” investor program. Always reaching out for ways to help people who have no voice, Catherine produced the first documentary about gay marriage, called “I Can’t Marry You.” After pounding the pavement for years to get it aired and seen, PBS finally asked for it just after the first two cities in the United States legalized gay marriage. To celebrate Gay Pride Month in 2003, PBS aired it and shared the stories of long-time couples who had been denied basic marital rights in our society because of their life-mate choices.
Speaking for the underdog and empowering them through their stories is a recurring theme in Catherine’s work. She expresses amazement at the women she interviews on her talk show, especially for their ability to overcome obstacles and make a difference in the world. Catherine’s belief that we are here to use our gifts and do what we love guides her to use her gifts as a filmmaker and storyteller to help others use theirs. That is the secret of living a happy life and creating good karma. Her “Live, Love Thrive” guests benefit by being able to share their stories and the viewers benefit by being inspired to follow their dreams.

Take the Lead 50 Women Can

Serving on the advisory board for 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment is an extension of Catherine’s advocacy for the underdog. She is adamant about the impact of film and television on the way we see things. By educating people and showing them things that aren’t in their own sphere of life, these top 50 women will go back to their companies and help accelerate women into positions of influence, meaning more women writers, producers and directors. She sees it as a way to massively change the content of movies and TV in a positive way. Both she and Dr. Nancy note that with women currently representing only 4% of movie directors, the messages and stories are extremely limited. Creating a catalyst like Take the Lead’s 50 Women Can multiplies the opportunities to funnel more women into the filmmaking process, increasing feminine energy and empowering all women of all religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations and races. All women working together with men can create the most positive impact for positive change.

She Angels Investing Initiative

Originally named “She Tank,” Catherine’s new initiative to help women fills in the gap of the lack of investment capital for women-owned businesses. Although the statistics show that women businesses largely are more successful than those started by men, only 3% of venture capitalist dollars go to women and only 15% of traditional funding does. “She Angels” puts women together with women investors, giving them an event to pitch their business idea and get the funding and mentoring support they need. The first event premiered in Los Angeles recently and Catherine looks forward to expanding it to other cities throughout the United States.

More to Come

Live Love Thrive BookCheck out Catherine’s book of inspiring stories about women overcoming adversity and triumphing over trauma in her book Live, Love Thrive: Inspiring Women’s Empowerment. Tune in to “Live, Love, Thrive” talk show on UBN (Universal Broadcasting Network). Episodes are also re-broadcast on YouTube, social media, iHeart Radio and iTunes. Check out her website for upcoming events, https://www.360karma.com/, to join her community, to be a guest on “Live Love Thrive” or simply connect through e-mail or social media.
Listen to this interview for more of Catherine’s personal story and insights to how we can help empower one another through our stories.

Hear Her Song Honors 20 Women

Hear Her Song Performers

“Hear Her Song” Performers at The National Gallery of Art

Carla Canales, Founder and Director of The Canales Project recently created “Hear Her Song” to celebrate and give voice to stories of women who are changing the world for the better. I was honored to be among 20 women recognized by the Project, and was beyond humbled at the inaugural presentation on March 18 at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Presented in partnership with Vital Voices and my Leading Women co-author Linda Rendleman’s Women Like Us Foundation, an astounding array of songwriters, musicians, singers and artists created songs, performances and recordings to commemorate powerful insights into the nature of women’s leadership and the challenges facing women world-wide.

Hear Her Song Audience

“Hear Her Song” audience at the National Gallery of Art

Each woman honoree was asked questions about her story to reveal critical choices she had made to overcome obstacles and realize her vision of success. Jacqueline Suskin, The Canales Project poet in residence, then took that information and composed the lyrics to each song. Melodies were then added by emerging female composers under the guidance of Musical Director Kurt Crowley, best known as the music director of the Broadway musical, Hamilton.

More performances are planned, including one scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2018, 7:00pm at the Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose, California.

Dr. Nancy’s song:

Maggi Castrey, Dr. Nancy O'Reilly, Jen Dethro at The National Gallery of Art

Maggie Castrey, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Jen Dethro at The National Gallery of Art

Without doubt, the clarity
of purpose comes like a divine definition,
feminine form to craft a foundation
for the finest feeling.
This communal consideration
collects between hearts that nurture,
under the care of each voice considered
and always reshaping myths that block
us from betterment. In unison
we find the balance, bright bloom
of equality that brings us
into steadfast union.

~Jacqueline Suskin, Poet in Residence
~Madeline Myers, Melody

Check out The Canales Project.com for information about future performances and a complete list of the 20 women honored in the project.

Hear Her Song by artist Rosemary Feit Covey

“Hear Her Song” by artist Rosemary Feit Covey

Speak Your Truth with Personal Passion

Laurie Coskey

Rabbi Laurie Coskey

Women should speak their truth about whatever incites their personal passion, urges Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., whether that is the environment, the homeless, prejudice against various groups—in whatever way you can. It may mean joining the Rotary in your community (Laurie is a long-time member); you might join the PTA; you could volunteer at a victim’s center. Whatever stirs your passion, reach out to others and work together to make positive change. As a social justice advocate, Laurie’s lifework is to obtain fairness and dignity for everyone and she works tirelessly to achieve it for people who don’t have enough power to do it for themselves..
Her commitment to improving the lives of those in need is inspired by her Jewish background, her chosen vocation of rabbi, and her belief that the greatest gift we have to give one another is our love. In that regard, she serves on various boards in San Diego including the Interfaith Worker Justice. Her work there inspired her powerful TEDx Talk about the San Diego interfaith clergy who reached out to officials to stop disappearing immigrants and their families in 2007.

To Create Real Change, We Must Change the Systems.

Laurie realized the importance of changing systems, which she chose as the subject for her doctoral study. She continues to win victories for the issues she is passionate about through negotiation and teamwork. As an advocate, she learned not to lead the people who need her advocacy, but instead to walk beside them and help amplify their voices.
In this interview, she tells a heroic story about janitorial workers in office buildings organizing for better working conditions. The women who do the work are often single mothers who may speak little or no English and they work for male supervisors at night, who can control them through rewards or penalties based on sexual favors. These courageous, powerless women overcame their fear and stood up and spoke out. They do not participate in the #MeToo movement, but the activists who are helping them did appear at the Grammy Awards this year. Things are changing, Laurie says, one squeaky wheel at a time.

Our Lives Will Change When Women Become Legislators

Dr. Nancy and Rabbi Laurie share their concern that women’s perspective is often ignored. The male perspective has created our current system and to change it women must get involved. Besides getting involved in our communities, Laurie encourages women to run for public office, while admitting that it is a huge commitment to serve in elected office. Things really will not change until we make different policies, which women can do by winning elected office at their community, state or national level. She stresses that with so few women at the top of our organizations, it’s time for women not just to integrate, but to lead. That is when we will see significant change that affects everyone’s daily lives.
Listen to this interview for more wonderful stories about Laurie’s life and experiences. She invites anyone who would like a personal rabbi (Jewish or not) to contact her via twitter, Facebook or Linked-In. She is happy to listen and reply. Check out this news video about Laurie’s work in San Diego for more inspiration about what a difference community involvement can make.

Superpowers Revealed at #50 Women Can

Tabby Elisa 50 Women

Tabby Biddle & Elisa Parker
Photo by Woods Photography


by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
It was amazing to see how women can make history by coming together and supporting each other while following their passion and purpose. On February 2, Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment  kicked off with a celebration at NeueHouse Hollywood. This gender parity leadership initiative was spearheaded by two powerful Take The Lead Leadership Ambassadors, Elisa Parker (host of the award-winning program “See Jane Do”) and Tabby Biddle (bestselling author of Find Your Voice). Overall, 50 women were chosen from the media and entertainment industry to participate in the #50 Women Can initiative. These women represented various aspects of the industry, including broadcasters, filmmakers, producers, performers, directors, media company founders and more. These are the storytellers who will change the way women and girls see themselves in the future by reaching gender parity in the media and entertainment industries.
50 Women Group

Photos by Woods Photography


The energy was electric with so many powerful women coming together focusing on a shared goal. With the help of WomenConnect4Good, Inc., CBS, HBO, a partnership with NeuHouse and others, this cohort of women can step forward in the coming year to make lasting changes in the industry that shows women every day how they should see themselves. Gloria Feldt, co-author of Leading Women, and bestselling author of No Excuses, conceived the initiative to move parity forward within individual industries.  The first 50 Women initiative, which represented the social-profit/non-profit and civic industry sector in Arizona, launched in 2016. With the model in place, Elisa and Tabby teamed up to launch this second initiative in Hollywood. Like the earlier 50 Women, this cohort will focus on empowerment through the use of Gloria Feldt’s 9 Power Tools for women with the goal of propelling women into parity in the media and entertainment industry by 2025.
Nancy 50 Women

Photo by Woods Photography


The real work began Saturday, February 10, with a two-day workshop at Mount St. Mary’s University, a Take the Lead Partner that produces a Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ highlighting issues of gender inequity across the state. The next statewide gender equity report will come out in March 2018, and include a discussion on how 50 Women really Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment.  Plans are for a one-year collaborative research study assessing the impact and efficacy of 50 Women.
These 50 Women will participate in workshops held at Mount St. Mary’s and in on-line webinars for the 50 Women cohort during the next four months. Curriculum will cover critical areas of professional change that includes asking for what you want  in regard to funding and financing, legal insight for women in the industry, tools for dealing with difficult people and situations, supporting and becoming an industry game-changer, and much, much more. Focusing on the already impressive talents of these 50 women, the program will arm them with super-tools to tackle the challenges they face every day in this male-dominated industry.
There were many inspirational speeches made at the launch. Ana Flores, the founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina Network proclaimed, “Being at the #50WomenCan Flagship Reception I felt like a fire was lit in me. The collective energy of the women in the room validated my vision of women helping other women grow and thus effectively changing the way business is done and content is created and distributed. I could feel the change is no longer a request, but a mandate and we’re all ready to play our role in it.”
Alica Ontiveros, Senior Producer, Q Creative said, “The industry is ripe for change, but it’s going to take true commitment from stakeholders at every level and sector of the business to make that change meaningful and lasting. I’m proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many successful women about how we can bring this industry into a new more equitable and profitable future. This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The time is NOW! I’m impatient and don’t want to wait until 2025 for women to reach parity. Each day we can do something to support another woman and help each other in all our communities to bring women forward into the leadership positions that both create the role models for our daughters, and make the world a better place. Using our voices and telling our stories in the world of media and entertainment gives us the loudest megaphone possible. Partnering with our sisters and supporting their vision of real women’s stories opens the door for untold possibilities. Parity is in our grasp and our most powerful tool is our stories. I’m convinced these amazing 50 Women Can really change the world.

Successful Premier at Sundance

Sundance Film Screening sponsored by AAWIC

Terra Renee with the Utah Film Studios Staff


 
Women Connect4Good is excited to have supported the special film premiere hosted by Terra Renee’s African American Women In Cinema at Sundance Film Festival this month. It was a great success!
Sundance Film Festival BannerThey screened Sinners Wanted, an independent film written and directed by Jimmy Jenkins and Joshua Jenkins and starring Clifton Powell, Lamman Rucker, Hope Blackstock, Beverly Sade and Roland Martin.
Jimmy Jenkins, Director, Gigi and Pastor Leo

Jimmy Jenkins, Director, “Gigi” and “Pastor Leo”


Utah Film Studios announced that they are getting an Award for the Best Program during Sundance! Congratulations, Terra and AAWIC!Film Screening Opening
Shania Brown Inducted into AAWIC

Shania Brown (12-year-old child prodigy) Inducted into African American Women in Cinema

Who You ARE Makes a Difference

Founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide

Helise “Sparky” Bridges

Helice “Sparky” Bridges had it all – a big house on the Pacific Ocean, fancy cars, beautiful sons and an emotionally abusive husband – when she hit the wall. She fell to her knees and cried, “Stop the world I want to get off!” and a voice answered,” You can’t end your life because you are going to sing and dance and write.”Later on she also understood that she must also make a difference in the world. The fact that she couldn’t sing, had never danced a step or written much beyond a real estate contract didn’t stop her. She left home with a potted plant and some clothes and did those very things in spite of apparent shortcomings because of what she IS–outrageous.
Sparky realized that everyone just tries to be the best mom or dad or teacher, but what everyone really needs is to be recognized and loved, just like she did.  She created a symbolic hug in the Blue Ribbon ceremony in 1980, now called “Blue Ribbons Worldwide” with a goal of uniting humanity through the power of love and within three months 35,000 people were honored with it. Sparky’s goal is to reach one billion people by 2020. That’s one in seven people in the world, the mathematical tipping point for social change.

“Bing!” is the sound of making dreams come true.

With over 40 million people and counting, Blue Ribbons Worldwide is working hard on its goal to unite the world through the power of love. Sparky calls it the glue that’s missing from our lives. The blue ribbon she created says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference” and the ceremony requires seven steps, beginning with looking the person in the eye and honoring them for the qualities that make them special, asking permission to place the ribbon over their heart and for them to receive the honor, and finally “Bing!” to signify making their dreams come true. Each blue ribbon presented is followed by two more with a request for that person to pay it forward to two others.
Blue Ribbons
Sparky tells her own story and the inspiring stories of how the Blue Ribbon Ceremony made a difference in people’s lives in her book, Who I am Makes a Difference: The Power of Acknowledgement, Stories that Connect People Heart-to-Heart and Ignite the Human Spirit. One story on how the blue ribbon prevented a teen suicide is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. That is at the heart of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to end teen suicide, heal the world by helping one person at a time understand how much she/he matters. Today more than 40 million people have been honored with blue ribbons, but 2020 is only a couple of years away.

#BLUERIBBONCHALLENGE

Sparky says that people need to have personal connections and not be in such a “doing” world, but in a “being” world, where we can see each other’s hearts and the beauty in people. She is inviting others  to join her in becoming sponsors of a new initiative to train 40,000 middle and high school students to discover who they are, why they were born and the difference they make. The students will be honoring each other, honoring their parents and writing stories about it to unite the community in supporting everyone else’s dreams. Besides reducing teen suicides, bullying and the other epidemics that are infecting our teens, Sparky says that it will elevate education in America by developing social and emotional literacy. Instead of concentrating our efforts on conflict resolution, the Blue Ribbon Ceremony will focus on elevating our relationships to a higher bond of respect and love. To learn more about Blue Ribbons Worldwide, contact Sparky directly at her e-mail: sparky@blueribbons.org.
Listen to this conversation for more inspiring stories and to hear the 7-step Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement Ceremony from Sparky to Dr. Nancy. Check out Sparky’s website and ways Blue Ribbons Worldwide is uniting the world through sharing love with 40 million people and counting.Find out how you can help make it One Billion by 2020 at Blue Ribbons Worldwide.

10 Life Lessons from Leading Women

Excerpted from Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com), by Nancy D. O’Reilly, PsyD
Business Meeting
To become part of the “women-helping-women” movement that’s sweeping the nation, and indeed the world, we first must access our personal power. This means we need to master our external environment (often, the workplace), tackle our own internal barriers, and learn how best to connect with other women. Here, excerpted from Leading Women, are 10 actions you can take right now. (Chapter title and the author of each chapter are listed below each tip.)
Learn how to manage interruptions. Men tend to interrupt women more than women interrupt men. As a result, women often don’t get their thoughts, ideas, and opinions heard. This can harm impact and credibility in the workplace. Develop a phrase, such as, “I’m not quite done yet,” or, “Hold that thought,” to help you manage these interruptions.

—“Power Up! Three Ways to Build Credibility and Make Yourself Heard” by Claire Damken Brown, PhD

 Leverage your feminine skills. As the world grows ever more complex and connected, there is a growing need for “feminine” skills, such as relational intelligence, emotional intelligence, inclusion, and empathy. Be clear about the skills you have to offer. Embrace them. They define a new kind of leadership, a more collaborative, interactive leadership.

“Soft Is the New Hard: The Hidden Power of Feminine Skills” by Birute Regine, EdD

Practice self-compassion. Ask yourself daily, What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? Sometimes it means forgiving yourself for mistakes or simply lightening up on yourself; other times it means taking a walk or a hot bath or calling a good friend. When you love and take care of yourself, you will find it inevitably serves everyone.

—“Do You Need a Reason to Love?” by Marci Shimoff

 Strive to carry yourself with poise. Poise is usually defined as dignity, ease of manner, or composure. It also reflects wisdom, an acceptance that things do not happen overnight and that there are certain things we cannot transform. The knowledge that life is not always fair and it’s nobody’s fault. Poise is an understanding that putting one foot in front of the other is part of the power we have as human beings, as women.

—“Poise, The Final Ingredient” by Linda Rendleman

 Realize that who you are is different from what you can accomplish. Many of today’s women feel we must do something “amazing” before we die, but “amazing” is never defined. As a result, we are in constant pursuit, wandering from job to job, goal to goal, and relationship to relationship. Ask yourself: Who am I beyond my skills and knowledge? If I did not have to be great, what path would I take? What is my highest potential?

—“The Burden of Greatness” by Marcia Reynolds, PsyD

Find a healthy balance between feminism and narcissism. True beauty is a combination of what’s inside and what’s outside. We need to connect the two. Don’t waste time trying to stop the inevitable. Our clocks tick on no matter what we do—or do not do—to our faces and bodies. Finally, stop judging yourself regarding your appearance. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself like you would a good friend.

—“The New Beauty Paradox” by Vivian Diller, PhD, with Michele Willens

Brand your daughter with words of strength. Do you want to brand your daughter as a princess waiting to be rescued or do you want to brand her as a hard worker, or good problem solver, or smart, or willing to try new things? Take every opportunity you can to notice, to praise, and to strengthen those genuine skills and talents you want to foster. She will believe you and these traits will grow.

—“Seven Keys to Unlocking Female Leadership” by Janet Rose Wojtalik, EdD

Don’t let the divisive label of “feminism” stop you from supporting women’s equality. There are steps we can take to create a world where women have equal opportunities and rights and live in a world free from violence and oppression. Here are three ideas: 1. Become more aware of legislation and how it affects women. 2. Champion women and girls in your company, profession, and community. 3. Think globally. Stand up for women who have few rights and live under oppressive conditions in other parts of the world.

—“You Don’t Have to Be a Feminist to Support Women’s Rights” by Cheryl Benton

Avoid philanthropy based on handouts. Instead, support efforts that give women information and teach them how to use it. This is the approach taken by women like Wallis Annenberg, who helps fund community education and innovative projects; Melinda Gates, cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which facilitates people’s access to information; and Oprah Winfrey, a vocal and active supporter of education and teachers.

—“Information: The Best Form of Philanthropy” by Shirley Osborne

 Cherish the hard times. Often, they, not the good times, lead to your purpose, passion, and life’s work. Part of this is learning how to see obstacles as stepping stones. Go over them, under them, or through them, but don’t let them knock you down. They are an important part of your legacy and help you become not just a survivor but a sur-thriver.

—“Live Your Legacy: Leadership, Philanthropy, and Transformation” by Aurea McGarry

~

Originally published in Imperial Valley News, an online publication for the Imperial Valley Weekly, a weekly newspaper serving the El Centro, CA area. http://www.imperialvalleynews.com/index.php/news/living-and-lifestyle/1260-10-life-lessons-from-leading-women.html

Reaching Out to Help Women Like Us

Linda Rendleman, Author, Speaker, Philanthropist

Linda Rendleman

Fueled by a heart that is definitely big enough to change the world, writer, speaker and philanthropist Linda Rendleman has always worked to lift women up. In 2012 when the Super Bowl came to Indianapolis, Linda learned that the epidemic of sexual trafficking was not a world away, but in her own backyard. That knowledge appalled her and drove her to act. This year, her foundation, Women Like Us, Inc. is raising $25,000 through crowdfunding to fight sexual trafficking where it lives—in your town and on the streets around  the world.
In this conversation, Linda reveals that the market for sex relies on supply and demand and crosses all socio-economic boundaries. Children (girls and boys) are taken at the ages of 10-15 and sold into slavery. Once there, they find themselves in a lifestyle where they are victimized three ways: by the pimps who own them, the customers who use them and the police who arrest them for breaking the law. But there is a way out and many organizations are working hard to help free the victims of this horrifying industry.

The Key is Awareness

Linda admits that she was clueless in thinking that sex trafficking was the problem of 3rd world countries and poverty and drugs. As she rode along with a woman working to rescue kids, she saw everything from a top-of-the-line Mercedes to older cars amid the traffic shopping for sex. The real problem is with the user. They pay more for younger bodies and that’s when the victims are the most vulnerable. One attorney Linda spoke with said that she had never met a prostitute who hadn’t been sexually abused as a child or trafficked. Linda’s goal now is to create awareness of the problem and develop volunteers and funds to fight it head on.
Women Like UsHer most recent book, WOMEN LIKE US Together Changing the World contains a section with stories written by women who have found their mission fighting sex trafficking in different ways. One of these women is Washington State Congresswoman Linda Smith. She created Shared Hope International when she visited Mumbai to see the human trafficking problem for herself.  When she became aware that the industry was the second most profitable in the world and stretched into her own back yard, she vowed to  fight the laws that makes criminals of victimized American children, and today  rates the states on her website. Linda was shocked to find that California gets a D on Shared Hope’s state grade card.

Rescue, Restore and Recover

The organizations work with the victims through a three-part process. First, they rescue them from the streets or houses where they work. They house them through mentoring, social work and psychiatric process, then finally help them into recovery. There are many success stories where women are getting degrees, working to retrieve their children from the foster system and moving on to have happy, healthy lives.
Linda’s organization supports many  organizations that  are working daily to lift other women up, one woman at a time. She produced a documentary to tell the story and show the viewer what it’s like to ride along with those who are reaching out to help. Check out her website for more. Add your own donation to help her reach her goal of transforming lives. And listen to this conversation for more of Linda’s story and how Dr. Nancy says we must all work together to end this crime against the most vulnerable of us. And we can end it—together.

Shared Hope International Is Saving Children Worldwide

Little girl suffering form bullying
For four long years, Stephanie was known only by the name her trafficker gave her when he enslaved her at age 13. Her trafficker beat her and continually manipulated her emotionally. He constantly warned that he would enslave her 10-year-old sister unless Stephanie kept the customers satisfied.
Her story is, in many ways, sadly typical: the older boy taking an interest in the younger girl, persuading her that their relationship is “fate,” promising to marry her, buying her nice things, and then demanding that she dance in a strip club to help him out of a financial jam.
“It was degrading, but I did it ‘for us,’” Stephanie says. When he demanded that she sell herself for sex, she refused — and he threw her out of the house on a bitterly cold night. She could sell, or she could freeze to death.
Arrests and returns became a cycle. At one point, the trafficker brutally assaulted Stephanie in front of her own home. While she was hospitalized, a probation officer asked Shared Hope International to find a safe place where professionals had the skills to address her many needs. The closest such place was 3,000 miles away. Shared Hope moved her across the country, and gave her a new name for protection. Having been loved, cared for and counseled, she now shares her story to protect other girls.
Stephanie’s story is not unique. In fact, sex trafficking is a booming industry in America. It thrives because there is a serious demand for commercial sex with minors. Every day in America children are being bought and sold for sex. This is not a problem that is limited to third world or developing countries, it is happening right here at home in every state in the nation and crosses all socio-economic boundaries.
Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act. That act can include prostitution, pornography and sexual performance done in exchange for any item of value, such as money, drugs, shelter, food or clothes. The worst part about it is the fact that the industry continues to grow and thrive because there’s serious demand.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 13,897 calls to the hotline and 4,460 cases of human trafficking reported in the United States this year alone. Of those cases, 3,186 were sex trafficking, and of those cases, 1,438 involved minors.
Sex Trafficking Infographics and FlowchartApproximately 1.2 million girls and boys are trafficked each year. The victims are not all runaways or previously abused minors. Traffickers find their victims through social networks, home neighborhoods, clubs or bars, the internet, and even school. They lure these victims through promises of protection, adventure, love, home, or opportunities and once they have them under their control they use violence, fear, threats, and intimidation to keep them in line. The common age that a child is lured into service is between the ages of 10-16, when they are far too young and naïve to realize what’s actually happening.
In efforts to stop trafficking once and for all, Shared Hope International works hand in hand with federal lawmakers to strengthen laws so buyers and traffickers go to jail and victims are protected. This contrasts with laws in many states that penalize the child sex slave and let the customers escape without penalty. The organization works to teach minors the tactics of traffickers so they can avoid dangerous situations. They also train professionals on the ways to interpret the signs of trafficking to identify victims. Shared Hope focuses on protecting children on a local level by working with parents, youth workers, community leaders, and teens on how traffickers operate and how they can protect themselves and their friends.
Shared Hope’s story began in 1998 when U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith traveled into the heart of a notorious brothel district in Mumbai, India. The brutal sexual slavery and exploitation of women and children she witnessed there inspired her to establish Shared Hope International to help bring healing to devastated lives.
“I found children younger than my granddaughter, not even teenagers, being sold by the sex act and by the minute. I couldn’t believe it.  I had to do something,” Congresswoman Smith said. “It was the search for answers and the need for justice that guided my decision to start Shared Hope International.”
According to Shared Hope’s 2016 Annual Report, last year the organization was able to supply grants and technical assistance to 11 partners in the U.S., supporting their ability to provide the following services to survivors:

  • outreach and counseling
  • shelter and therapeutic care
  • textbook scholarships
  • virtual mentoring where services may not be available locally
  • bi-lingual case management
  • group case management
  • therapeutic foster care

The organization was also able to reach 2,229 first responders, service providers and community members through 33 trainings, and train 228 new Ambassadors of Hope from 42 states. Overall in 2016, Shared Hope was able to reach 779,413 people through prevention education events, and the organization was able to partner with 16 shelter and service organizations in four countries to bring education, job skills, housing, medical care and freedom to 431 survivors.
Shared Hope International is just one example of the amazing work that is being done to rescue and empower survivors. Human slavery is wrong, and sex trafficking of children is absolutely not acceptable. Leading Women co-author and founder of the Women Like Us foundation, Linda Rendleman, has started a crowdfunding campaign to support Shared Hope and many women-led causes and charities who are fighting sex trafficking in their communities or nationally. All of the work that is currently being done is proof we can eradicate these horrifying statistics, but only if we work together.
If you feel that someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.  To learn more about sex trafficking and ways you can help, check out our post with resources and partners.

Human Slavery Makes Me Angry

By Dr. Nancy O’Reilly
Crime Victim
It’s time for all of us to wake up and come together to end the worst of our society’s crimes against human beings. I’m talking about sex trafficking. In my conversation with Linda Rendleman, founder of Women Like Us foundation and one of my amazing Leading Women Co-authors, I was shocked to find out the sheer numbers of children here in the United States and world-wide who become victims of this horrendous crime every single year.
1.2 million girls and boys are trafficked every year. Sex trafficking is the second most profitable business in the world, taking in over a billion dollars in business every year.
This problem is at the core of our society and needs ALL of us to step up to end it. This is not a woman’s issue; it’s a human issue. It’s estimated that 30% of the children who are trafficked are boys, but that figure is probably low. Approximately 99% of the users (those who pay to have sex with these children) are men. We must all be outraged and use that anger to really make a difference.
All of us can do something. Click here to access Women Like Us crowd funding page. This campaign is working to raise money to help the women’s organizations rescue children from the streets, house them in safe places and help them become valued members of society. Any small amount will help, especially if we all help. The organizations cannot be sustainable and continue their important work without help. The need us; they need YOU in whatever small way you can contribute.

Want to report sex traffficking? Need to call for help? National Hotline is 1-888-373-7888

Each generation of children who are stolen and sold in the streets creates a new generation of prostitutes. Our children believe what they are told. If they lack self-esteem because they are not empowered with positive language and told they are amazing and can do amazing things, they look for it in potentially harmful places—online in relationships that are false and manipulative, in older boys who profess romantic love to trap immature girls into doing what they want, and with others who only want to entrap and abuse them. We must reach out to protect them with positive environments and a belief in their own precious value as free, self-reliant young women and men.

Waiting For You To Notice from Shared Hope on Vimeo.

Our judicial system makes these vulnerable victims criminals and punishes them rather than the men who pay to use them and the pimps who stole them away in the first place. We must work from both ends of the problem. Linda Smith founded Shared Hope International after being introduced to sex trafficking in India, then finding out that it was so prevalent in the United States. Most shocking is that the primary victims in our country are middle-class middle school kids. And the younger the children, the more the men will pay.  Linda’s organization is working on the judicial system in every state and recruiting men to come forward in the fight and recruit others to get everyone involved in, not only legislating for and rescuing victims, but eradicating the unhealthy demand for sex with children.
I am convinced that every person we help, helps three more people. Imagine if each of us helps just one of these victims, how that will spread to make a difference in the world. Every person only wants to be loved. Reach out with your love to help end this cycle of modern-day slavery today. It is at the heart of social justice in our world and will do more for raising us all up than any other single action you can take. Help Women Like Us exceed their funding goal and support these organizations working every day to free a new generation of children.

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