David Raether went from having a extremely well paying job as a comedic writer for television, to losing absolutely everything and spend a few years homeless (on-the-street-homeless). Why? Because he decided to take a year off of work to address problems in his family. The house was paid for, they had money in the bank, it was a perfectly reasonable financial decision and exactly what his family needed.
Unfortunately, in the United States, taking time off of work to make positive changes in your personal life is tantamount to professional suicide. At the end of his 12-month sabbatical, David Raether was unable to find work. Since he and his wife were committed to keeping their children enrolled in the best school system in the United States, their cost of living remained where it had been when he was pulling in 100s of thousands per year. Without an equally good paying job, their savings dried up and things went from bad to worse.
This is an important story to be told about poverty (in general) and homelessness (specifically) within the United States. The far majority of Poverty Survivors are good, hard working people who hit on hard times.
Drug addicts and criminals are neither exclusive to, nor most prevalent among, the poor – there are plenty of addicts and criminals (white collar and otherwise) among the upper classes. But that’s a topic for another day.
David Raether has my admiration for surviving homelessness, pulling himself out of that tragedy, and having the courage to talk about it.
Rex Hohlbein started allowing homeless people use his office as a place to hang out during the day. This grew into a small and semi-official drop-in-center service where people could come to get out of the weather or pick up needed supplies.
That alone is admirable. Yet, what really stood out to me was the way this project got started because Rex took the time to get to know individuals. He didn’t just set up a charity, he started building relationships with poverty survivors and the network of donations grew out of those relationships. That is truly worthy of admiration.
I have great admiration and respect for victims of horrendous crimes who find the strength and courage to speak about those crimes publicly. Nacole is one such brave soul who gave a TEDx talk about child sex trafficking – and what it’s like to be the mother of a child who has been lured away and sold.
Jesse Bach is a self-described freedom activist. He is the founder of the Imagine Foundation, which works to fight human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide. He is on my admiration list because of all of these things.
He is also on my admiration list because his speech uses both superhero analogies and the assurance that everyday people can make big changes in small ways…while wearing spandex (if they so choose). Of course, that spandex must be ethically made and traded but, otherwise, spandex is OK.
His TED talk is about the ways that everyday people can make a real difference in ending human trafficking. I encourage everyone to watch it.
I have great respect for people who escape a horrible situation and then choose to fight the criminals that created that situation. It takes a lot of courage to stand and face people who have perpetrated unspeakably vile crimes. Simply facing these people in a court of law, under the protection of armed police officers, is extremely difficult. Continuing to fight after gaining freedom and establishing a life – that takes both courage and dedication.
Catalleya Storm survived human trafficking in Ohio, was freed through the help of law enforcement, and continues to speak out against human trafficking and sexual slavery. Her TED talk is focused on her own experience, the prevalence of these crimes in the United States and the very simple fact that combatting modern slavery and human trafficking of all kinds is everyone’s responsibility.
Catalleya is someone I would love to meet and/or hear speak. She is one of many people who I would add to my list of speakers at a slave-free city conference…if I were planning such a thing.
Kris Wade is the founder and executive director of the Justice Project in Kansas City, which has the following description posted to their website:
The mission of the Justice Project, a peer-based nonprofit human rights organization, is to provide criminal justice and social systems advocacy and navigation for women in poverty who may be suffering from a multitude of challenges, including homelessness, discrimination, addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation. Since 2007 the dedicated volunteers at the Justice Project have helped positively change the lives of more than one hundred women from the streets of Kansas City.
This is an amazingly difficult job anywhere in the world. In Kansas City, the challenges are exacerbated by the mistaken belief (all over the United States) that these kinds of things don’t happen in Kansas – or anywhere else in the Midwest or similarly agricultural-heavy regions of the United States).
Ms. Wade’s Ted talk clearly explains why and how these things happen all over the United States, even within the heartland.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet Ms. Wade and learn more about the work her non-profit performs. I also would like to hear her thoughts on the slave-free city project.
Lisa Kristine is an international humanitarian photographer whose work is breathtakingly beautiful. One of her areas of focus is modern day slavery, which has led her to extremely dangerous places and situations, where she has photographed the slaves themselves. Her TED talks covers the reality of modern day slavery and her own experiences as a photographer investigating this horrendous crime:
I must admit to feeling both admiration and envy over Ms. Kristine’s career. Her work as a photographer documenting indigenous cultures is itself worthy of admiration. The fact that she takes the opportunity, and the risk, to document human rights violations and the manifestation of evil that is slavery is highly commendable. I would welcome the opportunity to meet Ms. Kristine or hear her speak in person.
Dr. Transchel gave a TED talk on the issue of slavery in the United States, which is something American citizens tend to believe does not exist. Actually, many people believe it cannotexist in the USA and any incidents uncovered by the police are some form of freakish anomaly. As Dr. Transchel’s talk illustrates, nothing could be further from the truth:
At the end of this speech, she provides a phone number and URL for the Polaris Project and the slavery hotline. Please visit this website and take not of the hotline because reporting slavery is everyone’s business and responsibility: