For The Madera Tribune
An unidentified woman, left, suspected of being sexually trafficked, is contacted by Madera Police officer Scott Roberts and a female police volunteer last year. The young woman was offered options out of a life of working on the streets.
Hoping to educate Madera residents about the realities of local human trafficking, members of the OLIVE Foundation are holding a presentation and fundraiser with dinner, silent auction and a live band on Friday, Nov. 1, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at The San Joaquin Winery, 21801 Avenue 16, Madera. All funds raised at the nonprofit event will be used to outfit a recently donated building that will be used as a local safe house and facility to help women transition out of sexual trafficking or prostitution situations.
Dinner tickets for the Nov 1 fundraising event are $50 per person and are available online at the link below. Walk-in tickets will also be available at the door.
The OLIVE Foundation was started in 2015 by Madera Police Lt. Dan Foss, in partnership with The Madera Police Department. Foss said OLIVE stands for Overcoming Limitations through Intervention, Values and Empowerment.
After years of encountering the situation on Madera streets, Foss was disturbed when he realized many women were being sexually trafficked locally as prostitutes, and also by how few local assistance options there were for those traumatized and vulnerable victims.
“Once this building is outfitted as shelter space,” Foss said,”our volunteers will be able help countless victims of local sex trafficking by providing an immediate, safe place off the streets for post traumatic triage. It’s a much-needed facility here. But we need to raise about $30,000 .... to add a shower to the bathroom, add a new air conditioning unit, fire sprinklers, doors and some other basic furnishings, and we could really use the community’s help,” he said.
Human trafficking can take many forms he said — forced domestic or farm labor — but the most prevalent and brutal is sexual trafficking in the form of prostitution.
“It’s all about manipulation,” Foss said. “Young, vulnerable local women are manipulated — isolated, seduced by promises of love and affection and then betrayed. Held by combinations of violence, intimidation, drugs ... and once they are prostituted they are blackmailed and prevented from going home to family because of drug use and shame. How do you go home and tell your parents or family you were a prostitute? Or that there’s video ...?” Foss asked.
Other young women, some from foreign countries, are recruited and told they will be working as nannies, household help or in the massage, hotel or restaurant industry in America, only to find on arrival they are being held against their will and forced into prostitution and sexual slavery. Physical abuse and drug addiction are also a common part of those victims’ entrapment.
Foss said all victims and situations of sexual exploitation and trafficking are different. “But most need intervention and options to get out. Support and a temporary, safe, judgment-free sheltered housing space in which to transition back to normalcy and obtain medical or other services to help them back on to their road to recovery. With this safe house we’ll be able to provide those options locally,” he said, and donations in any amount will help the effort to outfit and operate the women’s shelter.
A GoFundMe account has been set up at:
The Olive Charitable Trust, Madera, Calif.
To mail a donation please send to OLIVE C/O Madera Police Department 330 South C St., Madera CA 93638.
Tax deductible business sponsorships are also available.