The past week and a half have been beyond inspiring for myself and the staff here at Thorn.  The outpouring of support and interest in our work in response to Ashton’s testimony has been overwhelming, humbling and provided a much needed boost in doing what is sometimes really difficult and heartbreaking work.

What excites me most about some of the messages we have received is the intensity in the desire on everyone’s part to get involved and make a difference.  This passion especially resonates with me because it takes me back to the first time I learned about the atrocities of child sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking. Some things just sit with you and won’t let go.  I was appalled, devastated and knew I had to do something. But for me the process of figuring out how to help wasn’t as easy as I had hoped.  We all want to be able to snap our fingers and make significant and lasting change, but I’ve found with issues like these — as with many things in life — true impact and change takes time. Time, commitment, and perseverance — because sometimes it feels like what you’re doing isn’t making a difference.

In my own journey, I learned that I just had to jump in where I was. I looked for local organizations fighting human trafficking and homelessness, rolled up my sleeves and got to work.  It wasn’t always easy, but it was incredibly rewarding to be helping on the front lines.

The changes needed to help our most vulnerable children require a lot of effort from all of us over the long haul.  We need commitment and focus from all of you who have reached out to help address both the “pipeline in and the pipeline out”.  And this is not for the faint of heart.  It takes dedicated, lasting effort — each of us willing to invest where we are and do the small things that collectively make a huge impact for these children.

For those of you wanting to jump in — do it!  Seek out local, grassroots organizations that deal with vulnerable youth, foster care and please, please find local survivor organizations doing great work.  I serve on the board of one of them here in Los Angeles, and I know from first-hand experience that these grassroots, direct services organizations are starving for your time and your talent.  They need help with computer systems, with marketing, strategic planning, peer mentoring, fundraising, social media, everything.  There is so much work to do.  There are a number of other things you can do to help.  Together we can get it done.  Let’s do this!