“I’m not law enforcement or a social worker. Is there really anything I can do to end human trafficking?” We often hear this from members of the community, who become passionate to see trafficking end, but do not know if there is a place for them in this work. At Araminta the answer is a resounding, YES, we need everyone and that includes YOU!”
Our greatest resource is our volunteers. We have volunteers from all different backgrounds, professions, and each have been inspired to join Araminta in a different way. Each volunteer contributes to furthering Araminta’s mission using his or her own strengths and gifts. We know that our mission to see the end of domestic minor sex trafficking will require the entire community coming together and taking a stand. Our volunteers and supporters have given so much to this mission and we are so thankful for them.
Each month, we highlight the story of volunteer that has joined us in our mission. Their story may be the beginning of your story becoming a part of Araminta.
Meet Tara, AEM Training Team Coordinator
Tara was part of Araminta’s first volunteer training in March of 2012. She quickly became an integral part of our Awaken Equip Mobilize (AEM) training team and is currently the team coordinator for AEM training. If that wasn’t enough, Tara has been competing in various running, triathlons, and swims throughout the year. During 2014 Tara has completed (or will complete): 4 open water swims (including a 9 and 10 mile swim!), a 5k, a 10K, a sprint triathlon and a winter indoor tri relay as the swimmer. She has used these races as a platform to raise awareness about domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and raised almost $1,000 for Araminta. When asked why she swims and fundraises, Tara answered, “The victims of DMST that I volunteer with Araminta for, that Araminta exists for, have had freedom stolen from them. When I swim in open water the feeling is almost indescribable but freedom is pretty accurate. No lane lines, no walls to stop or turn at, just water and sky. The symbolism of that action in contrast with those who cannot just go is why I keep going… Everyone doesn’t have to, nor can, swim for 5 hours in the ocean. But nearly everyone can give $20. My pitch is I’ll do the swimming if you do the giving. Do what you can is the clear message.“
How do you volunteer with Araminta?
I am the AEM Training Coordinator working with a volunteer team on curriculum design and logistics to equip future volunteers with the information and tools necessary to volunteer with Araminta in many different ways.
What fundraising races have you done? How close are you to your goal?
I filled my year with races this year, so far 6 events have been completed including 3 open water swims, a 5k, a sprint triathlon and a winter indoor tri relay as the swimmer. All of these have been in support of Araminta through raising awareness and funds. I’m close to hitting the $1,000 raised mark through 20 different donors from all across the country.
Why did you decide to do all of these races?
It started with one goal of completing the Chesapeake Bay 4.4 mile swim in June, which included work last year to qualify. As I researched other open water swims for the rest of the year, a 10 mile river swim October 4th caught my eye as a new kind of challenge. I had to apply in the winter and I did not expect to be selected to participate in the inaugural event in Richmond. When I got the email that I had been selected my jaw dropped. At that point the longest distance I had completed in an open water event was 1 mile. But this year the plan was to go from that 1 mile to 3 miles in May, 4.4 miles in June, 9 miles in July and then the 10 miler in October. It’s going to be a crazy adventure for sure.
What motivates you to do the fundraising races and how do you share your passion with those you are asking to give?
The victims of DMST that I volunteer with Araminta for, that Araminta exists for, have had freedom stolen from them. When I swim in open water the feeling is almost indescribable but freedom is pretty accurate. No lane lines, no walls to stop or turn at, just water and sky. The symbolism of that action, in contrast with those who cannot just go, is why I keep going. For many of the people I reached out to for support, hearing about DMST was news. Over the months of emails and social media posts, I’ve made anyone reading the information at last aware that this is happening here. For some of them giving financially has been the next response. Everyone doesn’t have to, nor can, swim for 5 hours in the ocean. But nearly everyone can give $20. My pitch is I’ll do the swimming if you do the giving. Do what you can is the clear message.
Why do you volunteer with Araminta?
When I attended the very first action night I already knew I wanted to be a part of the mission. Hearing the mission statement, “As we ourselves cease all active and passive participation in the many forms of the exploitive sex industry” – accountability for our own actions, specifically PASSIVE – struck a chord with me. We all have to do our part to move the mission forward and never settle for just ok. Beyond the mission statement as someone who works with Diversity and Inclusion focused initiatives in my full time job, the unifying principle of “Provide a platform for unity among all those who join in the effort” was a cementing statement for me. As a Christian, I have very strong beliefs that I base decisions on but I am keenly aware that my foundation is not the same as everyone else. Recognizing that and stating it as a principle for the organization was something else I could easily stand behind. Having been aware of human trafficking in the states on a very basic level for several years, it wasn’t until Araminta that I knew the breadth of the issue in our own neighborhoods.
I had recently completed time volunteering with conferences and conventions in the northeast and was looking for a way to plug into a non-profit locally that I could really whole heartedly support the mission and vision of and that could use me. The timing was perfect as my event management and training and curriculum design backgrounds could fit with the volunteer training team. The past 2 years have gone by quickly but we’ve been able to do so much. But of course there is still plenty of work to still be done. The planning and moving forward never stops.
What is your favorite part of being a volunteer?
It’s the “aha” moments I get to see while I sit in the back of training. Sometimes it’s from another member of training team listening in on a session for the 3rd time and something new hits them. Other times it’s from the future volunteers realizing what we are doing isn’t just a “pie in the sky” dream but a real mission with teeth to it that will mean their grandchildren may be reading about DMST in their history books as a thing of the past in Maryland.
We are so thankful for Tara and all that she has contributed to Araminta! If you would like to become a certified volunteer with Araminta, our next training session starts Oct. 23rd. Registration is now open at: http://aramintafreedom.org/volunteer-training/