Hope For Freedom by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

As part of our Florida church’s “Hope for Freedom” team, I am in training to be part of the speaker’s group that warns middle and high schoolers of the dangers of human trafficking. This past weekend, our group joined with the A21 anti-trafficking organization to hold a silent, single-file walk in support of the millions of men, women, and children who are trapped in slavery today.

Over 600 carried signs to bring attention to what is going on in our communities, and even though Florida ranks 3rd amongst states in which trafficking occurs, our Midwest towns are not immune. Hand-held signs explained the urgency: “Only 1% of trafficked individuals are ever rescued.” “Human trafficking generates an estimated $150.2 billion-dollars annually.” “There are millions enslaved in the world today.”

Hope for Freedom has been a huge blessing for me. Krysten, the head of our team, works tirelessly to fight this ongoing battle, no matter what size the venue. Last month we spoke at two sessions (one for boys aged 10-17 and one for girls age 10-16) for a Christian organization called “I Am Royal.” My job as a “newbie” was to pass out material and listen to our speakers reinforce the powerpoint and answer questions. I was thrilled to do that much.

I Am Royal” is run by mothers who are determined to save at-risk youth. The event culminated in a celebratory, semi-formal gala to which Hope for Freedom was invited. Renee—a veteran of our group—was the only one who could attend, and since they needed someone to take Renee’s picture accepting our group’s certificate, they reached out to me.

The participants, dressed in frills and bowties (furnished by the group leaders), walked the royal blue carpet to receive their certificates and crowns for completing the class. There were speakers, singers, dancers and presenters, all there to encourage the participants to stand apart, know who they are in Jesus Christ and live for him.

That evening I learned that Terra Kennedy, a woman who saw a need to help boys and girls lead a violence-free life, started “I Am Who I Am,” an organization with this motto: “Violence and Abuse is Never Your Fault.” “I Am Royal” is only one of the groups with whom she has partnered to inspire youth to make good decisions.

Kennedy, like Krysten, is passionate about making a difference…one person at a time. They know that none of us can tackle all of abuse’s horrors, but we can do…something. They have inspired me to question what would happen if we all were the “somebody” who started to do “something” “somewhere.”

Could we co-op to take a meal to those who protect our community or help fund-raise for benefits to serve those in need? Could we volunteer as a reader to pre-schoolers, plant a tree, paint a public trash can or pick up litter? How about driving a cancer patient to his/her treatment, clean up a river bed or meet a neighbor? Or at a deeper level, what if we asked God to show us where we can be used…and then do what He lays on our hearts?

One person at a time.

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