Today I get the privilege of introducing you to my friend Lisa. Lisa was one of our first friends when we moved to Edmonton--in fact, she was part of the team that hired me for the position that brought us here. Lisa is creative, thoughtful, and the type of person who makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
She also puts on an annual fundraiser to help fight human trafficking.
The Spero Gala is an evening of live entertainment (100 Mile House is playing this year), great hors d'oeuvres (catered by Drift), a silent art auction, and a few stories and reflections to help us learn more about human trafficking. (This is how we decorate our walls--we buy art at the Spero Gala). It's a fun night out--a chance to get a bit fancy and support a great cause.
This year, the gala is FRIDAY, MAY 6. I have a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky (and local) blog reader. If you don't win, you can get tickets here.
Steven Garber, in his wonderful book on vocation, asks the question, "Knowing what you know, what will you now do?" Lisa inspires me because she didn't learn about human trafficking and simply walk away. She did something. She used her passions, her gifts, and her resources to make a difference. I recently interviewed her. Here are her words about the gala...
1. What is the Spero Gala?
It's a fundraiser for ACT Alberta (Action Coalition on human Trafficking, www.actalberta.org). The word Spero was chosen because it is the Latin word for “hope,” and hope is what I want to bring to victims of human trafficking.
2. How much money have you raised in the past and what is your goal for this year?
Every year, I wish the cheque was much larger to give to ACT, thus far we have raised around $38,000, roughly $10,000 every year. This year I do hope for $10,00 again or more, but am well aware of the economy and people are watching their dollars a little bit more, so we will see.
3. Why did you decide to start the Gala? Why do you use art as part of the Gala?
I started Spero after attending a conference in Calgary on Human Trafficking. I was shocked to learn how much of it was happening right here in our province. While at the conference someone mentioned ACT Alberta to me and said I should check them out. As I began volunteering with them, I realized the lack of resources they had for such a huge social injustice. I felt overwhelmed, like we do with many huge problems our world is facing, but felt God strongly nudging me to do something to help with the problem.
I have a Fine Arts background, so I thought that making the fundraiser feel more like an art show combined with some great musicians would make a great night out for people. Thus, Spero was born. Along with a small handful of dedicated committee members we have managed to pull it together for our 5th year this year.
4. What is ACT Alberta and how does the money you raise help them?
ACT Alberta is a coalition of government ministries, non-governmental organizations, survivors of trafficking and volunteers working to identify and respond to human trafficking. ACT Alberta addresses international and domestic trafficking of men, women and children for labour and sexual exploitation.
The money that is raised from Spero goes directly to their “Victim Service Fund”, which can help out with a wide variety of needs, such as lawyer fees, plane tickets home for victims, passport fees, basic needs like food, shelter and clothing for victims, councillor fees etc.
5. Can you tell us something about human trafficking in Edmonton?
Human trafficking is often a hidden and underreported crime; it can and does occur anywhere. In Alberta, human trafficking charges have been laid in rural communities as well as major urban centres. People may be trafficked for labour and/or sexual exploitation. Traffickers may be intimate partners, employers, recruiters, family members or organized crime groups. Please go to www.actalberta.org to read more about specific cases here in Alberta and Edmonton area.
6. What is your hope for people who attend the Gala?
My hope is that people come away with knowledge about human trafficking here in Alberta. That the knowledge they gain helps them to be aware of the problem and changes how they shop and spend their money.
I hope they view this as something that does happen in our backyard, not just overseas. And that we become citizens who are on the look-out for it, so we can help victims.
Many jobs that people are in, such as health care and education, might provide opportunities to identity people who are being trafficked.
Not all of us are going to be skilled in helping a victim of trafficking, but we can contact ACT, bring the situation to their attention: we can be the eyes and ears for them. We are a large community that needs to work together.
7. Is there anything else you'd like us to know about the Spero Gala or about ACT?
If you have any questions about human trafficking, Spero and ACT or want to be involved in some way send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And please think about coming and putting some of your hard earned dollars towards this great organization who are bringing Spero-hope, to victims of human trafficking.
Okay, Edmonton and area readers...now is your chance to win a pair of tickets. Comment below to enter. Winner will be chosen at random this Friday.
NOTE: I had earlier indicated that you should leave your email address, but I had anticipated that you wouldn't have to post it publicly. So. If you enter the giveaway, and I don't know how to contact you, please check back to see if you have won. Sound good?