9th Annual Just Us for Justice Run

By Jessie Podolak

The 9th Annual Just Us for Justice Run was a huge success this July.  Despite dangerously high temperatures, runners (674 of them), volunteers (175 of them) and supporters headed to Carson Park to support Fierce Freedom and International Justice Mission.  Over $27,000 was raised to fight human trafficking and modern day slavery!

This year, Fierce Freedom began to transition into a new role for the race. Race founder, Jessie Podolak, approached Jenny earlier this year and asked her to consider having Fierce Freedom take over the leadership of the event.  This would allow many of the people who express a desire to “do something” to help fight trafficking to participate in a tangible event that IS making a difference globally, regionally and locally.  Jessie thought it would also take the race to the next level, bringing a fresh perspective and creativity to the table.

Fierce Freedom has accepted this challenge and is excited to transition into the role of “Event Coordinator.”  Some things will change in the upcoming years as Fierce Freedom takes on this role.  While International Justice Mission will still receive donations from the event, a higher percentage of resources will stay local, so we can fight trafficking here in our own back yard.  In addition, some logistical aspects of the run itself will change, as we hire out a chip timing company, and other details that will come together.

However, many things will stay the same.  Race leaders will continue to embrace a community driven event, with sponsors from various businesses and churches (multiple denominations) being represented.  We will continue to strive to put on an event that the entire family can enjoy, and hope to expand our children’s activities.  We will continue to use the event as a platform for educating our community as well as raising funds, and hope to inspire a new generation of freedom warriors!

This is a great step for Fierce Freedom and for the future of the Just Us for Justice Run!  As the 10th anniversary of the run approaches, we look forward to celebrating the work accomplished and pushing on to new goals ahead!


Freedom and Food

 Have you ever wondered what you can do to help fight trafficking but don’t know where to start? Join us for our Freedom and Food event and help raise money to fight trafficking here in the Chippewa Valley. The Food and Freedom event will be at the Altoona Family Restaurant (2000 N Hillcrest Parkway in Altoona) on May 16th and the Chippewa Family Restaurant (1701 Kennedy Road in Chippewa Falls) on June 9th. Enjoy the wonderful food at these restaurants and a portion of the day’s sale will be donated to Fierce Freedom. We will have staff and volunteers available throughout the day to answer questions about local human trafficking issues. Please join us!

Faith Community’s Response to Human Trafficking

On April 7th, Fierce Freedom will be sponsoring an event aimed at helping area faith communities identify and fight human trafficking. The event will feature talks from Pastor Steve Rutter, Pastor James Whatley, Jodi Emerson of Fierce Freedom, Lt Ryan Dahlgren of the Eau Claire Police and Jessie Podolak founder of the Just Us for Justice Run. The event will be at St Matthew Church in Eau Claire and will start at 10 AM. Registration is appreciated. Please contact jodi@fiercefreedom.org to register.

Looking Forward to 2016

Several years ago I was giving a presentation when I stated that I believe that modern-day slavery can be abolished in our generation. One person in the crowd was quite vocal about the impossibility of that goal. However, we at Fierce Freedom believe it to be completely possible and with your help, it is becoming a reality!

This year we have seen some very practical ways that the anti-trafficking movement is making a difference here in the Chippewa Valley. One example is that a young lady who volunteers with Fierce Freedom was approached by a trafficker in the parking lot of a local coffee shop. She knew the trafficking warning signs but just as important, she knew that “something just didn’t feel right.” Even though she educates youth about the trappings of sex trafficking, she was almost lured into a trap that could have endangered her life. I am so happy to say that she is safe and continues to tell her story to youth – helping them to see how this could happen to each of them.

Its stories like that which keep us going. Last month we had a young lady tell us that she heard us speak at her school several years ago, and because of that presentation, she realized that she was being groomed to be trafficked. She was able to make some safe choices, therefore taking herself out of an at-risk situation. We know that trafficking statistics are hard to come by, but we do know for sure that 50% of the time that we speak to any given group we encounter someone who is affected by trafficking. We can do that because of your investment into Fierce Freedom.

This coming year we have many exciting opportunities. In January we are partnering with the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire to give an anti-trafficking seminar to continuing education students and community members on how to combat human trafficking in rural Wisconsin.  We are also actively involved in training area law-enforcement, providing anti-trafficking training on university and college campuses as well as outreach into area school districts.  Along with those very exciting opportunities, we are thrilled to be part of the first ever State of Wisconsin anti human trafficking taskforce. In fact, here is a quote from one of our State Representatives: “…thank you for testifying at the public hearing on Safe Harbor legislation to protect children. You are very informed and an important voice on this issue… “       – Jill Billings

2016 marks our 9th year of educating the public about local human trafficking. We have made some good headway but this coming year looks like nothing we have seen so far, with state-level opportunities and trainings for organizations that will make decisions for thousands of children, women and men in the state of Wisconsin.  Will you join us in exposing modern-day slavery in our hometowns? We have so much opportunity to do so much good this coming year. You have the opportunity to make a difference with us to help the enslaved and exploited. Please join us!

With much gratitude,

Dave and Jenny Almquist

Fierce Freedom, Founders

Board of Directors Opportunity

Are you passionate about issues of Human Trafficking and looking for a way to help the cause? Fierce Freedom is looking for board members. The role of the Board of Directors is to set the direction for the organization and to approve policy. The board meets quarterly to conduct and be updated on the activities and financial status of the organize.

We are seeking a few individuals who are dedicated to the cause of exposing modern-day slavery in our hometowns and who will bolster the strength of the board by their personal strengths and professional affiliations.

If you would like to be considered for a position on the Board of Directors please contact the Fierce Freedom office at (715) 514-2890 or d.almquist@hotmail.com.

Dave Almquist

Fierce Freedom Board President

Birthday for a Cause

It’s true! Birthday for a Cause is back! Not just as a one-time event but as an event that can be easily replicated. Some of you might remember that several years ago, Joyce Orth decided that for her 55th birthday she wanted to do something with “purpose.”  Her goal was to raise $550 for her 55th birthday.  Our founder Jenny Almquist recently had her 50th birthday and hosted a similar event. The hosting of that event was with the purpose of launching “Birthday with a Cause” on a broader level.

Jenny, like Joyce decided that what she wanted for her birthday was more than the usual birthday gifts, she really wanted to do something meaningful that would have a lasting impact.  If this interests you, please call the Fierce Freedom office at 715.514.2890 and find out what you need to get started.

Also, you can help now. With Jenny’s event behind us we have until Nov. 23 for matching funds up to $7500. This is such a great opportunity to impact and expose human trafficking locally!  Your donation could double if you give before the deadline. Call the office at 715.514.2890 or click the Donate Now button on our Facebook page or visit www.fiercefreedom.org. Your gift helps us speak to local students, educate law enforcement and more.

How You Can Help

What can you do to help fight human trafficking?

  •      Talk about the reality of sex trafficking with friends and family

  •      Report suspicious activity to 1-888-3737-888

  •      Mentor at risk youth

  •      Follow us on Facebook

  •      Designate Fierce Freedom as your Amazon Smile Charity

  •      See if your place of employment has a matching donation fund

  •      Set up a monthly donation through www.fiercefreedom.org

  •      If you are a Thrivent Financial customer, make sure Fierce Freedom is recieving your Thrivent Choice Dollars.