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Solana Beach residents win golf tournament while bringing awareness to human trafficking

Winning team members (l-r): Kristi Day, Dominique Nielander, Hedi Allen-Hydo, Michelle Moraga, Theresa Hill
Winning team members (l-r): Kristi Day, Dominique Nielander, Hedi Allen-Hydo, Michelle Moraga, Theresa Hill
(Courtesy)

A group of concerned Solana Beach residents became aware of the prevalence and repercussions of the tragedy of human trafficking, and decided to research and learn more, according to a news release. What they found was alarming statistics as to the current rise in human trafficking, the involvement of movement of citizens across borders, entrapment, and forced labor or sex through exploitation or coercion. Even if victims are rescued or escape, these survivors often have difficulties integrating back into society.

The Department of Homeland Security has declared this as a crisis, a violation of human rights and has developed an educational “Blue Campaign”. “The Blue Campaign” not only tracks statistics, addresses misconceptions, they also provide educational videos on this crisis, including not only the way and means used by traffickers to entice young people (male and female), but also what signs and situations you can be aware of in your own community to help someone in need.

Many organizations exist in San Diego that are specifically helping victims of trafficking get a fresh start with support and education after their rescues. One of those organizations is the Alabaster Jar Project, which provides not only a safe house for rescued victims with food and shelter, but also a place where individuals can receive mental, substance abuse and legal counsel. Education, support, employment skills and a means to provide for themselves in the future are also provided. This nonprofit organization has a group of tireless workers who have recently expanded their housing to be able to help more victims from local areas. They provide long-term housing, as well as a Drop-in Resource Center for immediate needs and supplies, with healing and coping skills training included.

The Alabaster Jar Project held its annual fundraiser golf tournament on Aug. 6, 2021 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course.

“A last-minute decision to participate in this tournament and fundraiser to support this organization led to us quickly assembling a team. We had no idea that we would win the Women’s Division of this tournament and would then qualify to participate in other nonprofit tournaments for other good causes,” said resident Dominique Nielander in the news release. Another member of the team and Solana Beach resident Kristi Day added, “It was such a pleasure to support this worthwhile organization and meet the directors, the supporting police force, and the brave victims themselves. It was a very rewarding experience.”

“The subject of human trafficking can be very difficult to see and talk about, and often is one that is easy to assume does not pertain to young people in our local area,” stated event volunteer Hedi Allen-Hydo in the news release. “Unfortunately, the statistics that were shared with us indicated out of the 25 million victims annually worldwide, and that includes U.S. residents (approximately 15,000 this year), California is the #1 state in the U.S. with the highest numbers of people falling victim to human trafficking, with Southern California being the top of that statistic. $150 billion are generated annually for organized crime through human trafficking. This includes both sex and labor trafficking, both forms of slavery through force, fraud or coercion. It is important to raise awareness in our local communities.”

Michelle Moraga, Solana Beach resident and golfer, also added in the news release, “There are signs that we can watch out for, there are clues that we can pick up on, and there are organizations that are ready to help if we can spread the information to the members of our community.” Golfing alongside members of the police force was also a humbling experience for these Solana Beach residents. “These officers were rescuing victims, but when they were released from custody there was nowhere for them to go. Often estranged from their families, survivors may feel lost and guilty, with no direction or support. Programs like the one offered by the Alabaster Jar Project give these individuals the support and the direction they may need to claim back their independent life,” says Theresa Hill. “It was a pleasure to support this organization and we hope to continue to do so.”

For information on the Alabaster Jar Project visit www.alabasterjarproject.org. Opportunities to be educated, donate or purchase products are available. For more information on human trafficking for sex or labor exploitation can be found at the US Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign website: www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign. Sex and/or labor tips or concerns can be called into: www.ice.gov/tips.

The winning golfers participated in the “Randy Jones Tournament” on Jan. 19 at the Sycuan Singing Hills Golf Course to raise funds to support children of military families.
— News release


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