Once a year, on the first Saturday of March, all the Soroptimist Clubs worldwide devote one Saturday to some kind of hands-on community service. March 5 was the second annual workshop for “Stop Human Trafficking.” This event was held at Temple Baptist Church and sponsored by the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County, Soroptimist International of Lodi and Lodi Sunrise, and the Lodi branches of the Salvation Army, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation and American Association for University Women.
Since human trafficking has become such a fast growing activity in this country, the local Soroptimist clubs have donated their Saturday of Service to this event for the past two years, in hopes of becoming more involved in helping these victims.
Saturday’s program was opened by Susan Hitchcock, who is a Lodi Unified School District elementary school principal and an educator for 30 years. Hitchcock also served on the Lodi City Council, where she served as mayor twice. Prior to that she served 13 years on the city of Lodi Planning Commission. She stressed the importance of making a difference in one’s community through involvement.
The guest speaker was Kay Buck, executive director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, based in Los Angeles. She gave the 150 people who were present an overview of what is happening in our communities, country and around the world. California has the highest numbers of sex trafficking and forced labor victims in our country. Buck stressed that there are 123 million victims worldwide and that this is a $9 billion business as well as a very fast growing problem. The trafficking affects all of us in some way, through the goods or services we purchase.
Buck spoke of the many organizations that help the survivors, such as CAST and the programs they use. There are several Senate bills addressing this growing problem as well. For more information or to see how you can help locally, visit www.free2work.org, www.consumerreaction.com or www.castla.org.
Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women and girls. New members are welcome to join and are encouraged to call the membership committee at 369-8589. For more information, visit the Soroptimist website at email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. SI Lodi will be having its spring fundraiser, Rollin’ in Ribs, on May 14 at the Elks Lodge in Woodbridge. For tickets, email email@example.com.