In San Diego County there are over 8,000 identified trafficking victims every year. Their average age at recruitment is 16. There are a variety of efforts being led by local Rotarians and the District Attorney's office to help reduce the number of victims entering this nightmare. This grant project aims to help those who have escaped captivity to pursue a path toward recovery. We are supporting the ongoing efforts of a well-established 501c3 based in North County San Diego.
Project Living in Freedom from Exploitation (LIFE) has worked tirelessly to rescue victims of this modern-day form of slavery since it was created by North County Lifeline (NCL) in 2011. LIFE is committed to identifying and saving all human trafficking victims, regardless of age, gender, gender identity, country of origin or specific type of trafficking (sex, labor and/or domestic servitude). This program, with only fifteen paid staff, has quietly become the largest provider of victim services in San Diego County. From their headquarters in Oceanside they provide 24/7 call support as they work with 30 federal, state and law enforcement organizations to rescue, protect and serve this vulnerable population. LIFE counselors and case managers work with victims from the initial crisis intervention through to their empowerment, helping them secure employment, educational opportunities and sustainable housing. Last year, they aided the rescue and recovery of 110 victims. This year, the current pandemic has eradicated many job opportunities in the service sector, increasing the number of desperate victims who have fallen prey to trafficking schemes and creating an extended need for shelter and assistance as they work to rebuild their lives.
The Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club is committed to partnering with project LIFE in this important work. We realize that their success rests on the effectiveness of their highly trained counselors and their relationships with organizations such as Just in Time for Foster Youth and the Community Resource Center. With this grant, we will support them financially by helping fund the implementation of these proven approaches. This work extends our ongoing support of their partner organizations and creates new avenues of service for our club. At an upcoming club meeting, LIFE will teach us to better understand human trafficking and develop skills to identify these abusive relationships. When other outreach efforts are possible, our Community Service team will pursue more "hands on" endeavors, providing supplies, toiletries, clothing and assistance on request for the survivors rescued from contemporary slavery by project LIFE. This grant for LIFE is a vital step to change the narrative and positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable among us that have been victimized.