In 2018, there were 383 reports of human trafficking to the Human Trafficking Hotline from the state of Michigan. This number only represents reported cases; therefore, the actual number of trafficking victims is likely to be much larger. As Grand Rapids is thriving and growing, hundreds of people walk the streets, creating the need for our community to become educated on the topic of human trafficking. One way we do this is by hosting an annual event that not only provides education but also involves the community in our anti-trafficking efforts.
Held on September 7, this event is co-hosted by The S.O.A.P. Project (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution). The S.O.A.P Project was founded by anti-trafficking advocate and survivor, Theresa Flores. Flores, who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit in the 1980s, was trafficked out of her own home at the age of 15 without her parents’ knowledge. Her traffickers were a classmate and his cousins. Driven by the pain of this injustice, Flores started the S.O.A.P. Project to reach out to women and girls who desperately need to escape the sex industry but lack the resources to do so.
S.O.A.P. is a project that includes wrapping bars of soap in labels that have the national human trafficking hotline (1-888-3737-888) printed on them. Hotels are hotspots for trafficking. Victims and customers are easily hidden among those who come and go from their many rooms. The labeled bars are distributed to local hotels to be placed in bathrooms, creating the opportunity for victims to seek necessary help. Along with these bars, posters of missing children are handed out to hotel staff members, encouraging them to report any suspicious activity that could occur at their place of employment.
We invite you to join us on Saturday, September 7, as we drive around to Grand Rapids (MI) area hotels and offer them these complimentary labeled soaps. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear from WAR, Int’l founder and president, Becky McDonald, and from Theresa Flores herself. The cost is just $15, which covers your lunch (catered by our own Tea Trade Cafe).
Let’s make the most of ArtPrize this year by creating circles of protection and becoming modern-day abolitionists for women at risk in the greater Grand Rapids area. We have an opportunity to be advocates and catalysts for change. Mark your calendars and invite your friends to join us! Registration for this event is required prior to Wednesday, September 4.
Time: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: WAR, Int’l Headquarters, 2790 44th St SW, Wyoming, MI
Tickets: $15 (includes lunch catered by the Tea Trade Cafe)