Libby Mahoney, President of The Cooking Activist Company with fellow abolitionists at a human trafficking awareness event at Florida Blue, Jacksonville Florida. Libby is in the polka dot dress. From left to right: 1st picture; Paul Restivo – JSO, Crystal Freed, Libby Mahoney, Maricel Alaras, Michelle Clowe, Silvia Almond and 2nd picture; Libby Mahoney, Michelle Clowe, Maricel Alaras, Bernard Alaras, Seth Johnson, Crystal Freed.
So, I came across this publication while on Facebook the other day. One of my fellow abolitionists posted this and asked the question, why isn’t the church doing more to help these youngsters?
Monica, our vice president, and I have a mission and a goal, and we are working on the plan to reach our goal. This pdf really brought home the dire needs of foster kids in Florida! The most devastating statistic in this publication is that 70% of kids trafficked in Florida are foster kids! I can’t really wrap my brain around that. It is staggering. How can we make a difference? How can the church do something about this?
One of the things that we are passionate about is helping the youth in our city. The girls aging out of foster care that have no where to go. The kids being abused and trafficked that are lost in the system. The homeless kids that are sleeping in the woods in the most affluent areas of Northeast Florida. The orphans and throwaway kids that have no families. How can a parent just throw their kid out onto the streets? One frightening statistic is that within 48 hours on the street, a runaway is approached by a trafficker. There has got to be something that we, as a community, as a church, as citizens and humans can do to make a difference.
Our first step, that we have already started, is to raise awareness about it. The Cooking Activist Company has attended many events over the last 2 1/2 years with the purpose of raising awareness about human trafficking and modern day slavery.
I’m known around this circle of friends and abolitionists as The Cooking Activist. Above is a picture of my table and next to it is a picture of Michelle Clowe’s table from World Relief. We’ve been doing events together, Michelle and I, with some of the folks pictured above for the last 2 1/2 years. We are joining forces to get the word out about what is going on in the dark places of our city, our nation, and our world.
Our next step is to raise money for our future plans. The Cooking Activist Company is now a cottage food operation that sells homemade baked goods with fair trade and organic ingredients. Monica and I are starting from scratch, no pun intended, without much seed money to really get things going, because we need a way to fund our plans. We decided that a for-profit social enterprise was the way to go! I am the baker and personal chef and Monica is the networking guru and event planner. Monica is the one who organized this Florida Blue event from the pictures in this post.
On the panel of this Florida Blue event are (left to right):
Paul Restivo, a JSO detective who works on human trafficking cases in Jacksonville; Seth Johnson, a volunteer for Transitions Global; Crystal Freed of The Freed Firm and former co-chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force; and Michelle Clowe of World Relief and current Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force.
So we’ve got the awareness thing going really well and we are working on raising money to implement our plan. Our ultimate goal is to build a boarding school/residential home for these kids I mentioned above. How do we help the kids that are lost in the system? How do we reach out to those kids before they are kicked out of the house or within that 48 hour window? What about the foster kids who are being abused chose to runaway as a means to escape? We face a daunting task, that’s for sure!
My church, Celebration Church of Jacksonville, is taking the Gospel to the streets! We want to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and bring Jesus’ love to those feeling unloved! Celebration Church is passionate about local outreach and they are starting a new initiative called Serve Your City. This is the next step for Monica and I, to get in the trenches and serve the youth in our city. I’ve been serving with Sisterhood in the City, Newtown Outreach and I will begin serving with Shine Girls, a local outreach for middle school girls. Monica serves at the Hubbard House with the Zonta Club of Jacksonville and she serves with Shine Girls. I can’t wait to see where God places us and our company and the many lives that will be changed through our efforts.
Our next awareness event will be on July 12th. The Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition is putting on an event to show a new documentary called “Dreams Die Hard”. It will be held at UNF in Jacksonville. For more information please visit the Coalition Facebook page.
We have more things in the works and we are looking for some like-minded people to join our team! Please email Libby at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can help us reach our goals!