As the Valley welcomed football and golf fans from around the world last week, Arizona nonprofit New Life Center has been ramping up its efforts to combat one of the most exploitative crimes society faces today — human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is an enormously prevalent form of human rights abuse happening in the United States right now,” said Myriah Mhoon, CEO of New Life Center, one of Arizona’s largest domestic violence and sexual assault shelters.
“It takes many forms including forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, forced child labor, sex trafficking and child sex trafficking.”
Using a trauma-informed approach to serve more than 1,000 children and adults each year, New Life Center provides comprehensive emergency shelter and outreach services to aid human trafficking survivors through temporary stays at hotels depending on survivor needs and safety, travel expenses to reunite survivors with family or loved ones, basic needs assistance and more.
“Unfortunately, when we welcome tourists and out-of-town guests to the Valley for major events like the car auction that just ended, the week-long golf event in Scottsdale and the big football game in Glendale, so come those with ulterior motives,” Mhoon added.
“It’s our mission to be out there in the community to identify, respond and support victims of human trafficking to help them start new journeys as survivors where they can live and succeed independent from this traumatic abuse.”
Recognizing the anticipated influx of human trafficking victims that will be in need of help, Valley of the Sun United Way recently partnered with New Life Center by providing an emergency grant of $50,000 to support the organization’s increased response efforts surrounding the Valley’s events.
“Human trafficking is such a devastating and often overlooked human rights abuse happening right here in our community,” said Carla Vargas Jasa, president and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way.
“One of the greatest misconceptions about human trafficking is who are its victims. It’s women, it’s men, but the overwhelming majority are children in their early teens. We need to be doing better and we need to be doing more.”
The grant funding provides New Life Center with immediate and actionable resources for enhanced outreach to victims who are currently being trafficked, emergency shelter for those who are able to escape, trauma-informed case management, diversion and supplies such as blankets, clothing and hygiene products for survivors.
“We’re hopeful that people throughout the Valley are more educated and aware of this widespread issue as a result of local PSA campaigns and media coverage during January’s National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, but we also recognize that there’s a lot of work to be done to eliminate this problem and support survivors on their paths to newfound freedom. It’s going to take our entire community to get there,” Jasa added.
Valley of the Sun United Way’s goal is to create a community where every child, family and individual is healthy, has a safe place to live and has every opportunity to succeed in school, in work and in life.
In working with community, corporate and nonprofit partners to implement its five-year plan for Mighty Change by 2026, Valley of the Sun United Way will put all of its efforts toward reaching Bold Goals for Maricopa County in health, housing and homelessness, education and workforce development. Learn more at vsuw.org.
New Life Center believes that every family has the right to live free from violence and serves more than 1,000 children and adults annually through its emergency shelter and outreach support programs. More than 70% of New Life Center’s shelter population is children. In 2017, New Life Center served more children and provided more bed nights than any other single facility providing emergency shelter to domestic violence survivors in Arizona.
To learn more about New Life Center’s fight against human trafficking and other programs and services, call 623-932-4404 or visit newlifectr.org.
Additional crisis resources include New Life Center’s 24/7 Mobile Crisis Line, 623-215-8072; the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, 877-4AZ-TIPS; the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888; the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-7233; and Teen Lifeline, 602-248-8336.
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