Vista, CA – Our Soroptimist 18th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Event and Walk took place under sunny skies on Saturday, January 27th at the United Methodist Church of Vista. We had a great turnout! Community members, leaders, advocates, and elected officials all came to help us raise awareness about human trafficking. In addition to our Soroptimist club’s info and registration tables, there were representatives from Alabaster Jar Project, San Diego HHSA (Health and Human Services), North County Lifeline, San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) Coalition for Justice, and TrueCare Community Health Services.

Event Chair Kaye Van Nevel welcomed all attending and invited the local civic leaders who were present to speak.

Our featured guest speaker, San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, addressed the dangers our youth face through social media exploitation. He announced his commitment to promoting education about human trafficking in schools, and emphasized the importance of teaching students to recognize grooming tactics and potential dangers.

California State Assemblywoman Laurie Davies discussed recent legislative efforts, like Bill SB14, aimed at classifying trafficking a minor as a serious felony. Davies also presented a plaque from the Assembly honoring our own Kaye Van Nevel, recognizing her tireless advocacy for the safety of women and children and her relentless pursuit of a safer community.

Vista Council Member and Deputy Mayor Katie Melendez (a new member of our SI Vista club) spoke about labor trafficking. She pledged to advocate for corporate accountability and supply chain transparency, and she stressed the importance of being aware of where the goods we purchase come from.

Others who spoke included Vista Mayor John Franklin, Vista Council Member Corinna Contreras and Vista Fire Chief Gerard Washington. Vista Council Member Dan O’Donnell arrived just in time for the walk, which was down Melrose Avenue from the Church to Sunset Drive and back. Vista Strawberry Festival Queen Serenity Serda and members of the Miss Bonsall Court led the way, holding our club’s big “Stop Human Trafficking” banner. The walkers held their HONK to STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING signs or held signs of their own making, and were rewarded by lots of honks from passing motorists.

Thanks to all who attended and helped out this year! Thanks Terri Haskins and SI Oceanside-Carlsbad for coming and supplying the water! Thanks to United Methodist Church for the beautiful venue!

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