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Springville resident crusades against human trafficking

Editor:
Too many times, it is the littlest things that sometimes make the biggest impact in our lives and the lives of others.

Recently, I was asked by Mr. Chuck Couture, president of the West Valley Chamber of Commerce, to come and be their keynote speaker, at their annual chamber dinner.

The topic of the discussion that evening was “Domestic Human Trafficking.” In 2011, in an effort to bring awareness to this horrific form of modern day slavery, I cofounded my charity, United Hands of Hope House Inc., a non-profit, 501(c)3.

Our mission is to provide WNY with its very first safe house, where survivors of domestic human trafficking can live and begin the long process of recovery ahead of them. Promoting their return to wellness and providing them with a safe place for them to heal is our primary mission.

I was honored to be asked to share my awareness program with Mr. Couture and the members of the West Valley Chamber of Commerce and was delighted at the turnout for the event. Every time that I get the chance to bring public awareness to our community and our surrounding communities about domestic trafficking and what is happening in our own country, cities, towns, villages, within our backyards and yes, even in our local schools, it is a victory and brings me one step closer to the possibility of saving one more person from this horrible form of slavery.

At the end of the presentation, the West Valley Chamber of Commerce took it upon themselves to take up a collection, to put towards the funding of United Hands of Hope House. I am thankful for every dollar that is donated, in support of United Hands of Hope House and ending modern day slavery.

Only through public awareness, training programs, law enforcement and stopping the demand can human trafficking be eradicated from our society.

The West Valley Chamber of Commerce took a huge step in this direction, by helping to shine a bright light into this dark corner. I wanted to sincerely thank them for recognizing me and allowing me the opportunity to speak to your members.

In closing, I was recently honored by Shared Hope International, one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the United States, to serve as an ambassador of hope and to help present their new awareness training program, “Chosen,” for high school students.

It’s a fact that over a 100,000 American children are exploited, through the commercial sex industry, each year, and the program Chosen takes direct aim at educating our most vulnerable: our children.

If you would like more information about this program or, to schedule an awareness program, please contact me directly at www.unitedhandsofhopehouse.org.

Karen O’Hara
Founder and director of the United Hands of Hope House Inc.
Ambassador of hope for the Shared Hope International
Mrs. New York International 2013
Springville
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