Today we’d like to introduce you to Angie Goeke and Alicia Maroney.
Angie and Alicia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Our journey began a few years ago when we attended a small presentation in the living room of a friend. We were left in shock, having our eyes opened to the reality of sex trafficking within our own community. For the first time, we grasped that sex trafficking was not just happening in other countries, but in the United States. We were devastated to know that American children were being bought and sold for sex within American borders. From that moment on, we knew we must do something. We spent the next year researching other non-profits in the area and across the country, learning more about the complexity of the underlying issues, and seeking wisdom on where we could fit into the solution.
Now, we find ourselves zeroing in on awareness, preventative education for students, teachers, and parents, and resourcing our neighborhoods with the tools to prevent, respond, and recover from the 2nd largest transnational crime today. We work alongside many other NPOs and seek to build a collaborative and supportive attack on traffickers and a viral movement of awareness. We are developing a mobile VR gaming experience that will raise awareness of Domestic Sex Trafficking and guide participants through a unique look into how traffickers manipulate, blackmail, and brainwash victims.
The desire is to shed a light on the issue within the general public while also equipping youth and parents with the skills to identify potential red flags. We also are working with NEST Foundation out of California to pilot a 6-wk trafficking curriculum for 8th graders in Katy in the Spring of 2018. The class will conclude with a student-led forum, where the 8th graders will sit across the table from policymakers. They will learn to be the catalyst for change for their generation. We are also busily planning our first Annual gala and golf tournament set for April 2018, designed to not only raise funds for these projects, but to raise awareness among the community, business, and entertainment leaders.
Has it been a smooth road?
Our first year of research into the issue was tough. We heard the stories of so many parents whose children were now missing. We spoke with parents who were in a state of panic and confusion, not knowing where to turn or who to trust in order to get their child back. It was an emotionally rocky road that we were a little unprepared for.
As we’ve learned more and more about the issue, our despair has turned to hope as we meet more and more activists who are willing to join resources to fight back. Being two moms with no experience in the non-profit space, we’ve definitely hit some bumps as we have learned to navigate the ins and outs. Hurricane Harvey also took us a little off-course and delayed some of our progress, but we are still moving forward with a momentum that we could never have expected. We’ve been very blessed to find ourselves in the right place at the right time to build our place in the fight.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are trying to take a new and unique approach to awareness and prevention. There has been a well-fought battle to get speakers into schools and progress in that area is being seen. We are seeking for ways to creatively present the issue to teens and parents. We are really excited about our virtual reality mobile experience.
We believe that this digital approach will reach more of our community, not only with its creative design but also with its ability to cross language barriers. The NEST curriculum that we are introducing to Katy in the Spring of 2018 is also creative and different in its approach. Rather than an hour presentation on the facts, this curriculum addresses the underlying societal issues that allow the sex industry and trafficking to survive. It goes beyond what previous presentations have provided.
Our desire is to also be a non-profit that doesn’t just seek out funds for our own operations and projects but to truly support others in the fight by hosting events that fund their efforts as well. We hope that this philosophy and methodology will strengthen the anti-trafficking community as a whole, making it a force that traffickers cannot stand against.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
We have been accepted and supported by the non-profit community with open arms. We’ve also been encouraged by the spirit of Houston to come together in the midst of struggle and be an example for the rest of the country on issues such as this.
Our Texas Governor’s Office has been extremely supportive of the non-profit community in regards to sex trafficking. For non-profits, Houston is a safe and supportive city. For anti-trafficking non-profits specifically, Houston is ranked as one of the main trafficking hubs in the United States, so the issue hits close to home for Houstonians.
Therefore, Houston has the opportunity to change the entire country by making a difference at home and setting the example for cities across our nation.
- Website: www.notinourcity.net
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