Last September, during my involvement with Restore a Voice, my wife and I met and befriended Jes Richardson, which ended up making a huge impact on us both. Jes is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, sex trafficking and unimaginable grief from the loss of her parents, family, and many friends throughout her lifetime. Her father was murdered when she was just 10 years old, and she was later lured into the sex industry while working as a waitress at age 17. She shared many stories of horrible violence, beatings, rapes, and of how she recruited hundreds of girls for her pimp over the years (average age: 14). Her stories are both compelling and astounding, and she has truly earned the title of "survivor". In 2000, she became pregnant unexpectedly and fought against all odds to exit the sex industry.
Currently, Jes is a wife and mother of six, including an adopted 21-year-old daughter who was a fellow survivor. She has dedicated her life to changing our culture by teaching and raising awareness about what modern-day slavery looks like, particularly in the United States.
Frankly, Jes is one of the most heroic people I've EVER met.
Right now, she and her family are in dire need of help.
Recently, in an effort to follow God's plan for her ministry, Jes and her husband Reid relocated their family from Portland to Los Angeles in order to allow Jes to better provide aftercare services for a large population of survivors of trafficking in that part of the country. They've been there about 6 weeks so far. Unfortunately, all of their funding has now dried up and they're very low on funds. They're staying with friends and at a loss with regard to getting their own place without help. They've reached out to many friends and exhausted their resources.
Currently, Jes and Reid and their five kids are staying with another family of six in a 1200 square foot home (13 people total!). They are getting food stamps temporarily, and although they are homeless they don't want to register as "officially homeless" with the state, because the state would automatically want to put their children in foster care as they would be considered "unfit parents", which is, of course, incorrect. Having lived with 13 people in our (much larger) home for seven months, I can tell you first-hand how stressful this is.
They are willing to do just about any kind of work to get out of this situation, but they really need to live in the San Fernando valley, which is about an hour away (without traffic). If they get jobs in Orange County then Jes can't continue to establish the nonprofit, but if they're able to get a home in the San Fernando Valley then Reid and Jes and their oldest daughter can get jobs and pay the bills while working on the nonprofit in their free time. They are making huge progress with the nonprofit but it takes time to build the base of funding for aftercare services.
The bottom line: This family needs $7,500 to get into an apartment and pay bills and then purchase furniture from Craigslist. They sold almost everything in a step of faith to develop training and aftercare in Los Angeles counting on local funding that has since been delayed. Everything they own now fits into a 5' x 5' storage unit, and they have an $800 minivan for transportation. THAT is faith in action.
The breakdown: They need $1600 to pay bills for the rest of this month, including final bills from their old apartment.
Then they will need around $1800 for the first month's rent and equal for the deposit, so $3600 for that.
They feel that they can furnish the entire place for about $1000, using Craigslist, garage sales, etc.
That makes the total $6,200.
I am setting the GoFundMe goal at $7,500 to cover other small expenses and to cover fees for the platform itself.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime at 512-796-7653 (cell).