By Julie Pendray
IDYLLWILD, Calif. — A sheriff’s investigator and a safe house representative will speak at an art auction here April 14 designed to raise awareness and funding to help victims of sex trafficking. It’s another event in ongoing efforts by Soroptimist groups across the country to aid people caught in the globe’s fastest growing criminal industry.
Celebrating Women in the Arts, presented by Soroptimists International of Idyllwild, will feature a silent auction of work by as many as 20 local women. The beauty of nature and the imagination will be juxtaposed against the backdrop of the evening’s topic: the dark under belly of a world that targets young people from all kinds of backgrounds and socio-economic groups.
Any child is vulnerable because of the grooming techniques used by traffickers, according to a member of Riverside County Anti Human Trafficking Task Force, Opal Singleton, who spoke to Idyllwild residents at a Soroptimist event last year. She is the author of “Seduced: The Grooming of America’s Teens.”
Both of this week’s speakers serve on the multi-agency task force. Kristen Dolan from Operation SafeHouse will talk about the emergency shelter provided to victims at two locations in Riverside county: Riverside and Thousand Palms.
“Though Operation SafeHouse has two locations, our Anti-Human Trafficking department reaches across the entire county of Riverside,” she said in an interview by email this week. “We go to wherever the victim is and provide resources to them in their area.”
Operation SafeHouse also holds community Protect and Prevent education events every month in Riverside, Thousand Palms and Murrieta.
Net proceeds from Thursday’s event in Idyllwild will help provide education opportunities for clients served by the organization, Dolan said.
Some of the money also will go toward a community education event in Idyllwild in September, according to the Soroptimist group.
Artists Kathy Luber, Shanna Robb, Erin O’Neill, Mimi Jacaruso, Darcy Gerdes, Donna Elliot, Das Seastrand, Martha Lumia, Karen Johnston and others have donated their work for Thursday’s event.
Wine, cheese and other refreshments will be served in the first part of the evening. In the second part, sheriff’s investigator Brian Robertson will speak, along with Dolan.
Celebrating Women in the Arts will be held 5:30 to 8 p.m. April 14 at Rainbow Inn, 54420 South Circle Drive, Idyllwild. The suggested donation is $20.
Soroptimist International of Idyllwild is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. For more information, go to their Facebook page or call club president Karen Doshier (951) 452-4599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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