Bringing Light into the Darkness of Sex Trafficking

This story originally appeared in the July issue of Park Ridge Living, a neighborhood magazine published by the company behind N2GIVES. To learn more, visit N2 Publishing.

Selah Freedom and the annual Park Ridge Trot Against Trafficking 5K

Heather Martin is the founder and race director for the Trot Against Trafficking 5K held annually here in Park Ridge. The Trot Against Trafficking benefits Selah Freedom. Every year, N2 Publishing's N2GIVES donates and raises awareness to fight human trafficking. Last year, N2 Publishing donated $3 million dollars to organizations like Selah Freedom. Park Ridge Living is an N2 publication.

How long have you been with this organization?

I’ve been with the Trot Against Trafficking since its inception six years ago. We have been supporting Selah Freedom for the last four years which was founded in 2010 and opened their Chicago chapter in 2016.

Tell us about this organization. Why is it so important in this community?

Trot Against Trafficking benefits the non-profit Selah Freedom, which is a national organization with the mission to end sex trafficking and bring freedom to the exploited through advocacy and awareness, prevention, outreach and residential. Currently, there are over 3 million children being sold into the sex trade each year. Selah confronts the issue of sex trafficking and focuses on bringing solutions to survivors of trafficking and exploitation. The issue is close to home. Sadly, Chicago is one of the top five cities in America for sex trafficking and before Selah arrived, there was only one small home for minors and zero beds for sex trafficking survivors over the age of 18. Selah has confronted this issue head-on and opened the first midwest safe house in Chicago, offering a safe place for victims to stay and recover, receive education, job placement, trauma therapy, life skills, medical and legal assistance as well as holistic restorative care. Women in their programs have an opportunity to dream again; to discover who it is they were created to be.

How can others get involved or support this organization?

There are so many ways to get involved in this cause from hosting a party with a purpose, volunteering or donating directly to Selah. On June 8, 2019, we hosted our 7th annual Trot Against Trafficking 5K, one-mile walk and kids dash right here in Park Ridge. 100% of the proceeds were donated to Selah. You can also sign up to fundraise or donate directly to Selah.

What benefits do you get from volunteering with this organization?

The way to end the horrific injustice of sex trafficking is through advocacy, awareness and education. We have the means to end this and for me, this race is about bringing that education into our community. It’s about dispelling the myth that this type of thing doesn’t happen here. It’s about getting those that are broken, lost and victims new hope and a safe place to recover and be restored through the amazing programs and outreach of Selah.


A Father's Fight for Justice

Join us in reading a heartfelt Father’s Day message from Love Justice International Global Ambassador, Doug Dworak.

I still remember visiting with family members prior to the birth of our first child about my desire to be the father of four boys. I was quite sure our first impending birth was going to be the start of the fulfillment of that desire. Well, God had other plans. Much to my surprise, not only was our first child a girl, but over the next six years, three more little girls followed! Four daughters…how they changed my life and my heart forever!

unnamed (2).jpg

When I held my daughter for the first time, I knew, without question, that I would do everything in my power to ensure my little girl would feel loved, cared for, and protected. I knew at that moment that being a father would be my greatest and most important calling in this life. Little did I know how God would use that time of being a father to prepare me for another calling…that of being part of a ministry that protects and cares for young girls all over the world!

I’ve had the privilege of visiting with fathers all around the globe who have the same protective love for their daughters that I do. Unfortunately, oftentimes due to extreme poverty and cultural obstacles, those fathers are limited in their ability to completely provide that protection, and it breaks their hearts.

I remember a time when I was visiting one of our safe houses in Nepal to learn more about how our staff protects the girls that they intercept until they can be returned to their families. During that visit, the parents of a girl staying at the safe house arrived to take their daughter back home. I watched as they entered the house, fell at the feet of one of our staff, and wept. Looking up, the father profusely thanked our incredible team member for rescuing and caring for his daughter. His love for her was palpable.

In that moment I couldn’t help but silently weep to myself as I thought about the wonderful privilege of being able to stand in the gap for thousands of parents like these, by protecting their daughters when they can't.

unnamed (1).jpg

That’s what we get to do at Love Justice. That’s what you allow us to do! Together, we have been able to protect and care for those who are the most vulnerable, oppressed, and marginalized. Together, we have been able to intercept thousands of young girls to prevent them from being trafficked and then unite them back with their families.

So, on behalf of all those fathers and mothers, whether they live in Nepal or South Africa or somewhere in between, from the bottom of our hearts...thank you! If you'd like to make a donation today in honor of Father's Day, you can give here.

Fighting for all of our daughters,

Doug Dworak, Global Ambassador
Love Justice