Noah Hanson is Fierce Freedom’s spring intern, a senior at UW-Eau Claire majoring in Social Work. Noah has worked hard on variety of projects, and has been a great asset to Fierce Freedom this semester. Some of the highlights include Cookies for Cops, planning the Super Bowl Rally, a trip to Madison to learn more about the legislative process, organizing the Night of Freedom & Hope, researching and presenting on labor trafficking in the chocolate industry as part of the Reducing Your Slavery Footprint series, and completing the first of five presentations of the Empower Youth Program at the local Juvenile Detention Center. We wish Noah all the best as he is graduating in May, and know that he will continue on as a force for good in the world!
Cat is thrilled to join such an amazing organization and work alongside an incredible team of social justice warriors. Her passion for this cause was sparked into flame during college while being part of International Justice Mission and after attending a Fierce Freedom hosted event at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She looks forward to advocating for victims of these crimes by working with both policymakers and the public to both spread awareness and bring hope to the hopeless.
Cat studied public relations during undergrad and received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2016. She is returning to the Midwest after living in Boston to work in her field and is excited to bring both her educational and professional experiences to Fierce Freedom.
By: Jenny Almquist, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Several months ago I was at a wedding where the groom stood at the front of the church just before the ceremony and personally welcomed the guests. One thing he said was “Please know that everything we do today in this ceremony is on purpose – we are not just going through the motions. We made every decision for a reason.”
That simple statement made the entire ceremony personal not only for the couple but for each person attending as well. In a similar way, I hope that at Fierce Freedom we never just go through the motions to get to the end of our mission. We strive to be intentional in what we do and that is why I want to share the following with you.
Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to issues around us in our world today. There are many! So I would like to ask you, is human trafficking and exploitation in our culture an issue to you or is it personal? Let me explain. Most of us these days know that human trafficking and exploitation is an “issue”. We hear about it on the news, our friends and colleagues may talk about it, we see billboards or posters. It’s an issue.
On the other hand, when I personally first heard of human trafficking in 2007 I had young children and I was horrified that this was happening in our world. I honestly felt like these people were coming for my kids. That is personal! I felt something and it now affected my world. This year at Fierce Freedom we would like to help you move from this being an issue that somebody needs to address to bringing it home to you, helping you see human trafficking and exploitation in your personal world and sphere of influence.
I would like to introduce you to our friend, Tia. She is a strong, smart young woman and she has a personal story of how she survived being exploited. Please watch:
It’s Personal has become a theme for Fierce Freedom this year. Has human trafficking and exploitation become personal for you? Do you have a story to share with us? We would like to hear about it. You can do that by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on facebook or call the office at 715.514.2890. Your story could be similar to mine or more specific and dramatic like Tia’s story. We would love to hear from you (we will not share your story without your permission).
By: Jodi Emerson, Public Policy and Community Relations
As Fierce Freedom continues to grow, we are always developing new programming. While we have primarily focused on awareness about sex trafficking in the past, we feel compelled to include some programming around labor trafficking and how that affects us in the Chippewa Valley.
In March, we started a new series called Reducing Your Slavery Footprint. Each month we are looking at a different industry and trying to give people actionable ways to ensure that they are not supporting slave labor with their purchases.
There are an estimated 46 million victims of human trafficking in the world today. While a majority of those people are not enslaved in the United States, purchases that we make every day do support those businesses that use labor trafficking to get their products to market.
We have chosen six industries to focus on over the next six months. We chose these industries both because they use a lot of slave labor, and because there are small things we can do to change our buying habits in each of these areas that will make big changes in the world.
If you have ever been in the Fierce Freedom office, you know that we usually have a chocolate supply on hand. In March, we held an event at the office focusing on chocolate, which included an educational presentation and a chocolate sampling. A significant portion of the chocolate produced in the world relies on child slave labor. When you think about how many child slaves are involved in the chocolate industry, it makes chocolate not taste as good.
The best way to avoid slave labor in your chocolate is to buy chocolate with Fair Trade, Rain Forest Alliance or Equal Exchange certifications on the label. Also, organic chocolate is grown in Latin America and most labor trafficking in the chocolate industry is done in Western Africa. Buying organic chocolate doesn’t guarantee that your chocolate is not made with slave labor, but if you can’t find Fair Trade chocolate organic is a good option.
Be sure to watch the Fierce Freedom facebook page and website for information and educational presentations in the Reducing Your Slavery Footprint series:
By: Jessica Reints, Fierce Freedom Neillsville Volunteer
Fierce Freedom of Neillsville is happy to announce its official launch! We are comprised of a small group of amazing people, with a variety of skills and knowledge. Many of us have worked in the mental health, medical, or corrections fields as well as having worked closely with youth victims of sex trafficking in residential treatment facilities.
While some of us were working at a treatment facility in Clark County, we received intense training about sex trafficking which completely opened our eyes to what a problem this issue is in our state. We knew that we couldn’t keep quiet with this information and had to educate our friends and families about it. We then got in contact with Jenny and Jodi from Fierce Freedom in Altoona and hit it off. Without these wonderful ladies, we would not be where we are today. They have supported and encouraged us in our efforts, and have recently given us the opportunity to become Fierce Freedom of Neillsville.
Fierce Freedom of Neillsville has been working hard the last few months educating community members about what sex trafficking really is and spreading awareness wherever we go. We offer presentations, literature, community events, and a toolbox full of other resources. In a short amount of time we have already done employee training and presentations for our Personal Development Center who works with victims of domestic violence, an educational presentation for a youth group’s confirmation class in Stratford, an interview with a local non-profit Dylan’s Den, attended the Tattoos for Triumph event in Stevens Point, did an educational presentation in partnership with Fierce Freedom at Lutheran Social Services in Eau Claire and attended events with Fierce Freedom like the #Notinmytown Super Bowl Rally to continue the fight against this issue. Fierce Freedom of Neillsville is continuing to reach out to possible clients in Clark, Jackson, Wood, Eau Claire and LaCrosse Counties. Our group is passionate about this cause! We are striving to broaden our knowledge and educate as many people as possible.
If you’d like more information about Fierce Freedom of Neillsville, you can contact us at fiercefreedom.org or on our Facebook page Fierce Freedom of Neillsville.