Volunteering: Extending Arms of Love

It is no secret that our volunteers are the backbone and foundation of this organization. The precious time and talent they sacrifice provides tangible hope for rescued and at-risk women. A few hours a week makes it possible to offer women and children places of safety. war-volunteer-03   Over time and with enough volunteers, OKthose few hours multiply into hundreds, adding value and impact beyond imagination. The volunteers at WAR, Int’l serve selflessly each week, giving themselves and their energy for the wellbeing of others. This is one way arms of love are wrapped around at-risk women.

war-volunteer-02At WAR, volunteers are also a source of blessing and inspiration. One of the greatest joys of volunteering here is experiencing the relationships that form between staff members and fellow volunteers. As weeks pass those relationships mature and bear fruit. We are a family of WARriors. Each member plays a different role, but all work towards the same goal; being a voice for the voiceless. Together we are stronger—and louder. Our volunteers encourage and lift the spirits of WAR, Int’l staff members on a daily basis. When asked how she would describe her experiences at WAR, Mary, one of our devoted volunteers said, “Wonderful. You are surrounded by very caring people all working towards a common goal; to help women who need rescuing. You are part of a bigger cause while being blessed with wonderful friends. It’s like a big family.” Our volunteers are an integral part of this organization and are greatly appreciated and esteemed.

Volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes. This is a small list of the work available for volunteers of all ages, talents, and abilities:

  • Use your organizational talents and administrative skills to help WAR be more efficient and in turn, allow us to reach more women
  • Restock handmade products that directly empower and provide a living for rescued and at-risk women.
  • war-volunteer-01Help out in our garage where products arrive and are shipped out to different events and product parties.
  • Research risk-issues or possible venues for WAR to speak at and spread the word.
  • Through simple data entry, make it possible for WAR to communicate with more people, businesses, and organizations in order to raise anti-trafficking awareness.
  • Tag and package jewelry and other handcrafted products as a way of supporting women who need to make a living and have a place of safety.
  • Organize a variety of donated goods that provide comfort and encouragement to rescued women and their children.

Whether you live near or far there are ways to volunteer your time, talent, or treasure:

  • Partner with your a local soup kitchen, domestic abuse center, or school
  • Donate online or through the mail, regularly or as a one-time gift
  • Pray for the endeavors of WAR and the women who are beginning a new life
  • Host a WAR party or a community event
  • Vote on new products via email
  • Become an intern
  • Create unique cards of encouragement for rescued women

lyn-vanderLaan-groupDo you want to get a group involved? Are you hoping to volunteer? Join our family of WARriors! All you have to do is contact Michelle Griffeth, our Volunteer Coordinator, with any questions you may have. Once you are ready she will help schedule a day that works for you. Do not hesitate to call her at (616)-855-0796 or email her at volunteer@warinternational.org.

Here are some of the thoughts shared by staff members when asked to share their appreciation for our volunteers:

“I love our volunteers! It is so encouraging to see so many wonderful people selflessly giving of their time and talents. They are an encouragement and offer a breath of fresh air!”

“I enjoy walking through the volunteer center, meeting volunteers and getting to know them. It’s so neat that you give your time. You inspire me. I think, “I should volunteer too!”

“I deeply thank each of you for your commitment and hard work for WAR. Thank you for your countless hours of service which bless our rescued and at-risk women around the world. We have the best volunteers around!”

“There is nothing that warms my heart more in this building than to walk through the volunteer center and hear the wonderful buzz of volunteers cheerfully filling the room. I love how they have bonded and built friendships over projects and tasks that serve wounded women around the world. The thought of it just makes me smile.”

“You keep our building running. Without your day in day out, detailed work, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

“Thank you for giving your time, talent, and treasure. You make it possible to provide women and children places of safety.”

“Each day I find myself taking a sanity walk right into the volunteer center. I feel it is one of the safest, warmest places in this building; one I run to for encouragement and a gentle reminder of why we do what we do. Thank you for being the light in my day!”

“I think of the Greek word parakaleo. It means to be called to one’s side. Our volunteers have truly come alongside and partnered up with us. That means so much.”

Quench Your Thirst for Freedom

Party with purpose!

This summer, keep cool and party on by hosting a product party with Women at Risk! You’ll receive a free hostess tumbler as our thanks to you. Hosting is easy—we send you all the products and displays, and it’s a great way to beat that summer boredom with family and friends. Our products are fashionable, practical, and support women’s safehouses and enterprises all over the world. Whether you choose a handbag or a one-of-a-kind jewelry piece, you’ll know your purchase has a purpose in helping lift at-risk women to dignity and freedom. So what are you waiting for? Call us today to plan your party and receive your free hostess tumbler. Quench your thirst for freedom with a Woman at Risk product party!

Trafficker Minds

A Look into the Psyche of Traffickers

In September 2005, a new crime show was aired on TV. Rather than focusing on the “whodunit” alone, the program delved into the minds of society’s worst, striving to understand why they would commit heinous murders or serial rapes. These insights helped law enforcement snare the bad guys. Quite fittingly, the show was dubbed Criminal Minds, and ten years later, it’s still going strong. You could argue that its success stems from compelling plotlines and loveable characters, but there may be another element to it: criminal psychology piques our curiosity. We shake our heads when we watch the news and wonder how a person could bomb a building or sexually assault a child. Criminal Minds answers those questions.

When we talk about human trafficking, we often focus on the victims, and rightfully so. They have suffered unimaginable trials and need our love, sympathy, and attention. But understanding the characteristics and minds of traffickers is important, too. Not only is it intriguing, but, as is the case in Criminal Minds, it can also help us fight their brand of organized crime.

We can begin our study by looking at the basics. Traffickers are typically adult males, but a shocking amount of participants are female. In fact, courts see more women for human trafficking than for most other crimes (convicts are 10 – 15 percent female in most crimes and 28 percent female in human trafficking [UN Trafficking in Persons Report, 2014]). In addition to being actual traffickers, these women may work as recruiters—an effective tactic because society’s dangers are usually framed as being male, whereas women are typically viewed as trustworthy. Women in the industry may be current or former victims (as is the case with Sweetie’s Madame), but they can also act on their own accord. The most disturbing type of trafficker, however, is the one that’s close to home: a mother, father, brother, sister, or significant other. Families often become traffickers during times of financial strain, when people will do whatever it takes to pay the bills—even if it means sacrificing a loved one’s health, safety, and overall wellbeing for the sake of survival.

Men who sell their girlfriends, however, may have developed the relationship as a means to an end. That’s a common strategy of traffickers: deception. Sometimes they will pursue girls or women, showering them with love, acceptance, and gifts. Their attention-starved victims—typically runaways and those sexually abused—bask in the romantic warmth. Other times, traffickers will offer work opportunities to the impoverished, lying about the job’s tasks and features. Whatever the case, traffickers “exploit the vulnerabilities of the victims,” as the Polaris Project says. By the time victims realize what’s going on, it’s too late; threats, abuse, and manipulation bind their wrists together, imprisoning them with emotional, mental, and physical chains.

The reason traffickers exploit fellow human beings? Greed. The crime teems with money, raking in $32 billion every year (UNODC, 2005). People—unlike drugs—are a commodity that can be used again and again, which stuffs pimps’ wallets with serious profits. As an anonymous federal prosecutor stated, “One of the pimps said he got out of drugs and into prostitution because you could make more money and wouldn’t get as much time in jail” (Busch-Armendariz, Nsonwu, and Cook Heffron, 2009).

Most of us can’t comprehend how a human being could exploit and abuse another for the sake of cash. The thought disgusts and baffles us. And it’d probably do the same to traffickers, if it weren’t for their twisted attitudes and worldviews. These individuals shrug the blame off their shoulders with self-serving logic. They may claim to be helping their victims, saying that they “rescued” them from poverty and the streets. They may dehumanize their workers; one trafficker in the Czech Republic stated that his girls were “’more like things that [he] own[s]’ than employees (qtd. in Copley, 2014). They may place the blame onto those who condemn their actions; a Chicago pimp stated in an interview, “I see no one trying to stop this lifestyle, so why condemn the people who survive doing this? Don’t knock a woman who is struggling” (qtd. in Copley, 2014). Through all these methods and more, traffickers are able to justify their heinous actions and live with themselves.

There are ways you can end their crimes. First of all, learn to identify traffickers, and be on the lookout for them. Watch out for sketchy job postings on Craig’s List. Pay attention to the people you come across, as well. According to Airline Ambassadors International, traffickers may speak for their victims and pretend to be their relatives, among other things. Of course, a controlling person may not always be a trafficker, which is why you should also be able to identify victims. If the evidence you find lines up, don’t hesitate to call law enforcement or the human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888). You can learn more about perpetrator/victim identification through WAR International’s Civilian First Responder events.

While their logic is warped, pimps are partially right in saying that society allows trafficking to flourish. But this doesn’t have to be the case, and change can start with you. Stem the demand for commercialized sex. Refuse to look at porn and seek help for addictions. Don’t support companies that use sex to sell their products or services (e.g. Carl’s Jr., Hooters, Abercrombie and Fitch, etc.). Boycott films and music that objectify women. When you do these things, you create a cultural shift within the United States, changing our country from one of exploitation and slavery to one of mutual respect and freedom.

March for Freedom

March Against Human Trafficking 1Summer blesses us with a renewed sense of freedom. We dust off our shorts and flip flops, swing open the prison doors of home, and venture into the warm sunlight to eat barbecue, go swimming, and dangle marshmallows over roaring bonfires. For many of us, this time of year is filled with life, joy, and memory-making.

Yet the season can be a challenge for rescued women and children. During Christmas, hordes of shoppers stream into WAR Chest Boutique to purchase products. In February, boyfriends, husbands, and fiancés scramble to find their significant others the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Children pool their money together in May to buy their mom a pretty piece of jewelry for Mother’s Day. But after that, a lull in sales strikes, and life gets a bit trickier for women and children in our safehouses.

But you can make a difference in their lives this season: encourage your community to shop with a purpose by rallying in your local Fourth of July parade! Whether you belong to a group like Boy Scouts, or whether you simply have a passion for empowerment, you can take part.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some steps and ideas to get you going!

  1. March Against Human TraffickingSnag a spot. Complete an application to participate. To do this, contact the Parade Association or your city’s Chamber of Commerce. Parade spots often fill up fast, so sign up today!
  2. Find your people. Grab your friends, family, church, neighbors, or anyone else you can find to join you on the March for Freedom!
  3. Make a scene. Stroll down your streets with WAR, Int’l banners and signs lifted high. Sit in style on a fancy float adorned with red, gold, and black trim. Sing, dance, shout, play an instrument, make some noise. Your march can be as simple or elaborate as you want; no matter what you do, your presence will raise awareness and stir the audience to take action!
  4. Let us help you. WAR, Int’l can provide you with materials to make your march awesome. Email us at volunteer@warinternational.org to receive printable images for signs and banners. If your local parade will allow it, shoot us another email for coupons and pass them out at the event.
  5. Become a model. Adorn yourself with jewelry, clothing, purses, and more from WAR Chest Boutique. You’ll support a woman with your purchase, as well as advertise the beautiful products they make.
  6. Embrace other cultures. Check out the different countries that WAR, Int’l supports and don the clothes that they might wear during festivals and special events. Declare that freedom and justice is for all—no matter where they live or work!
  7. Don’t forget to snap some pictures! We’ll post them on our website for all to see.
  8. Have any other brilliant ideas? Let us know at volunteer@warinternational.org.

If you’d like to know more, call our office to receive an informational packet about this great opportunity. Parades can be a powerful mechanism for change, and on a day when we already celebrate our country’s liberty, you can help make freedom a reality for everyone—both nationally and internationally.

Rescue without Thinking

Giving in everyday life

Sometimes giving can be tricky. When you’re already paying for food, clothing, heating, internet, water, gas, education, insurance, and anything else you may need to get by, it’s easy to forget about charitable donations. Several retail companies have invented solutions, constructing programs that seriously simplify the process of helping your community. Here are some programs that allow you to give women and children a hand-up. Best of all, each one has a signup fee of $0.


  1. Gordon Food Service’s Fun Funds
    WAR, Int’l’s Organization Number: 2553356

Nowadays, giving can be as easy as buying groceries, especially through GFS’s Fast Funds. When you sign up for this program, you will receive a card. Present it to the cashier, and each item you purchase will earn WAR, Int’l anywhere between 1 and 10 percent rebate. As an added bonus, you’ll receive monthly emails that feature specials and coupons. To sign up for this program, either visit GFS’s website and fill out the form, or talk to a GFS Store Manager. Customer service will then give you a card that you can use every time you shop at GFS.


  1. Amazon Smile
    WAR, Int’l’s Listing: Women at Risk International Inc

Whether you’re buying a college textbook or a birthday gift for your nephew, Amazon Smile offers an easy way to give while you shop. Simply stop by their website (smile.amazon.com), sign in with your usual Amazon account, and type the name of the organization you’d like to support. Every time you make a purchase through Amazon Smile, a portion of the proceeds will go to WAR, Int’l.


  1. Meijer Community Rewards (MCR)
    WAR, Int’l’s Code: 515687

If you prefer to do your weekly grocery shopping at Meijer, MCR is a great option for you. Sign up online or in-store to receive a Meijer 1 Card, which you can swipe when paying with cash or a debit card. You can also take advantage of MCR with a Meijer credit card (which offers greater rewards). Apply for one online or in-store, or call 1-800-962-7011 to add an MCR account to an existing Meijer credit card. Either way, Meijer will send along a portion of their sales to WAR, Int’l.

However you choose to give—be it a direct donation to WAR, Int’l or an indirect donation through one of these programs—know that every penny counts in the struggle to save at-risk women and children.