For three weeks each fall, ArtPrize, one of the largest art events in the world, takes over the city of Grand Rapids. More than 500,000 people visit this city to embrace creativity and vote on which art piece deserves the grand prize. During this time, hundreds of people walk the streets, creating the perfect opportunity for Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) to inform our community on the topic of human trafficking. Each year, the streets of downtown Grand Rapids become our platform for raising awareness about the prevalence of this injustice in our area. These efforts include an annual event to help involve the community in anti-trafficking efforts.
Held this year on September 15, the 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 WAR, International on September 15 as we drive around to hotels in our area and offer them these labeled, complimentary soaps. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear from WAR Founder and President, Becky McDonald, and 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 September 12.
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: WAR, International Headquarters, 2790 44th St. SW, Wyoming, MI
Cost: $15 (includes lunch catered by the Tea Trade Cafe)