We've been part of the push for a while. The Hope Project of Muskegon works to help those who are victims of human sex trafficking and they provide shelter, support education and advocacy for those who've been victimized by this dreadful version of modern day slavery. The assumption is that it's "like you see in the movies", but chances are, that trafficking happens much closer to home than you'd ever think and it only adds to the nightmare of living with the reality of the fact it happened to you.
Trafficking here more often than not happens within a close circle, maybe even a family. It's forcing someone to perform an act of sexual behavior against their will and making money from it. It could be a "significant other" who forces it to happen, maybe a spouse of relative. It's more than just the act. It's control and domination and the effects on the victim leave a lifetime scar. The Hope Project began in 2006 and has grown to not only offer the counselling and advocacy services they do, but they have added Hope Village. It's a secluded, and private living center for victims 11-25 who need the safety and mentorship it takes to get past the harsh reality of what's happened to them. 11-25. Imagine that? It's a level of pain that's past the bearable point.
The Hope Project holds only one big benefit event annually, and they do it more than right. The "Behind the Mask" Ball is an elegant affair with purpose. November 11th at the Trillium Events Center on VanWagoner Road is the date and you are invited for not only an evening of mission based purpose and education, you are invited to celebrate the work done and hear from some of the women who've been helped by the Hope Project and had their lives turned around through the generosity of a community working to better understand something most would rather avoid. A full spread of dinner, refreshments and desserts is provided as well as entertainment and items to auction off or bid on. It's really one of the more elegant events we see yearly, to go is a great night out.
Mary Suarez with the Hope Project invited us down to hear a bit more, and our good friend Nate Johnson from Fresh Coast Alliance joined in. Nate is the emcee and part of the entertainment of the evening at the Behind the Mask Ball. Make sure you GET YOUR TICKETS while you can and help support the work done by so many to help end the scourge of trafficking. We are thankful for the team at the Hope Project and all they do for those who've been victimized.