A “CELEBRATION” POST IRMA
Written by: Julee Ferreira
I pray everyone survived Hurricane Irma with minimal damage. It seems phone calls, insurance estimates and hours of clean-up are inevitable after the eye of a hurricane crosses over, but with God’s help, Floridians returned to life, work, fellowship and giving.
Just six days after Irma swept through our state, the “One More Child Celebration Ball” was scheduled to take place. This exciting event was designed to celebrate the ministry of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH), The Porch Light and Orphan’s Heart and their mission to meet the urgent needs of children. The celebration’s goal was to raise One Million Meals for FBCH feeding programs. Approximately 500 guests were scheduled to attend the event, and then, Irma happened. However, Irma could not stop the desire to provide one more meal for children in foster care, survivors of sex trafficking, malnourished children internationally or local students who have no access to food on the weekends. Therefore, we are still holding a One More Child Celebration fundraising event. The event will now be held online and through social media featuring stories, live videos and more. You will not want to miss seeing the impact a single meal can have for a child in need. Please join the online campaign, “Journey to One Million Meals” from October 27-31. For more information or to provide meals, click the button below.
I also wanted to provide you with a compelling story from The Porch Light. Please continue to pray for this important ministry.
Recently, The Porch Light director of community relations received a telephone call from a partner and victim advocate from a domestic violence shelter. The victim advocate reported she had an 18-year-old Muslim female who had been on the internet speaking to an older adult male who had befriended her. The male sent her a burner phone and money for a one-way airline ticket and instructed the young woman to board a plane in Tampa to leave the country. The male offered her a better life. The young woman was enroute to Tampa to board the plane. The victim advocate sought direction on how to intervene.
The Porch Light director provided the name and number for a Homeland Security agent and suggested the victim advocate call the agent. Several telephone calls later, between numerous agencies, the young woman was detained by customs and border patrol at the airport. The young woman did not board the plane. The victim advocate responded, and brought the young woman back to Lakeland.
After this, follow up conversations between the victim advocate and The Porch Light staff took place. The young woman and her family responded to Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and met with The Porch Light director and clinician. We were able to provide education and awareness to the young woman and talk through what happened. The young woman recognized that she had been groomed and was in the process of being trafficked. She stated she knew this in her head but in her heart she didn’t want to believe it because he (the trafficker) told her that he “loved” her.
The young woman and her family were scared for her safety as she had given the trafficker a copy of her passport and social security card, and he knew her home address. The Porch Light director telephoned human trafficking service providers and identified a safe home for the young adult woman to stay pending the criminal investigation.
Because of human trafficking training, awareness and identification of signs as well as partnerships between The Porch Light, various law enforcement agencies and community shelters, everyone came together to initiate an intervention to halt the heinous crime of trafficking. Celebrate with us…this one young woman did not fall prey into the hands of evil doers who wished to exploit her for financial gain.
Women of Compassion Council