One of the things I’m constantly grateful for is the gift of Choice. From being able to choose what I eat for breakfast, to whom I choose to interact with in my life, to the Faith I choose to embrace… everything we do in life is a choice. And yet there are many people who have no choices in life, except the choice of how they choose to think about their circumstances. For this reason, the victims of human trafficking weigh heavily and constantly on my mind and in my heart.
This modern day slavery is all too prevalent in every part of our world. The University of Texas reports there are currently 79,000 young adults and minors being sex trafficked in Texas alone! 💔 There are so many issues that need to be addressed to fix this problem that are beyond my capacity, but I have found an outlet that speaks to me: The Refuge for DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking).
The Refuge is a non-profit organization providing a long-term, residential, therapeutic community for 48 girls—minors through age 19—who have been rescued out of sex trafficking. This organization has built The Refuge Ranch on 50 acres in a beautiful and restorative setting outside of Austin, TX and provides psychiatric services from Dell Medical School at The University of Texas; education through the University of Texas-University Charter School; medical services by community partners; and various therapeutic programs uniquely designed for the development of a child survivor.
Helping restore broken young women to become change-agents in the world has long been my passion, and these girls and young women are the most vulnerable and in need of help. I think of how powerless these survivors have been and how in-the-shadows this issue feels and I want to change that. I can’t think of a better cause to put my efforts toward.
So here’s my first public step. I’ve added a store to my website to sell Miss Val gear. For a year I’ve been testing and giving away a variety of Life is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance swag: t-shirts, beanies, tank tops, etc.—as a small promotional tool. And time after time people have asked where they can buy it themselves. I was hesitant to offer any of it for sale because I didn’t want people to think that I had expectations of launching the next major apparel brand. None of that has ever been my intention. However, it occurred to me that if people are willing to buy this gear, maybe I can take some of those profits and give it to The Refuge. So that’s what I’m doing. According to statistics shared by The Refuge, only 600 beds are available nationwide for child sex trafficking survivors. We can change that one comfy t-shirt at a time. So with the launch of my store, I’m going to donate all profits to The Refuge. If my style isn’t resonating or if you’ve already maxed out your shopping cart and simply want to give, you can donate directly to The Refuge here. Thank you!