Switch, a registered 501c3 charitable organization that resides in Greenville, South Carolina, is committed to combating the growing epidemic of human trafficking in our area of the Southeast. The organization thoughtfully services the entire upstate by implementing programs to create awareness, educate on prevention, promote advocacy, and to provide restoration services for victims of what has been likened to “modern slavery”.
Greenville, with its idyllic downtown, picturesque historic neighborhoods, and friendly milieu doesn’t “feel” like a community that would have an issue as unsavory as human trafficking. Despite appearances, human trafficking has become a progressively escalating problem throughout the southeast, with Atlanta, GA typically in first place for trafficking and Charlotte in the top 10. Zaina Greene, Executive Director of Switch, explained that, “There has been a big push in recent years to surrounding cities, including Greenville. Just one of the solicitation websites can publish upwards of 150 ads per day. Victims are everywhere and this is happening here at home, not just in other countries.”
Since 2012, Switch has worked tirelessly throughout upstate communities to educate young people around how to identify dangerous individuals and the common tactics that these predators use to subjugate. They foster programs to decrease demand in our communities by bringing awareness to sexual addiction and dependency on pornography. Most notably, they advocate for and provide case management services to identified victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Since inception, the organization has successfully transitioned dozens of girls and women out of “the life,” assisting identified victims on the road to rebuilding a new one.
Although the work they are doing is critical based on the mounting need, it is currently purely reactive due to limited resources and staffing. “We currently have one full-time and one part-time care coordinator on staff, but we really need 3-4 of each to properly support the demand,” shared Zaina. She explained that, more than anything, they need additional funding in order to increase victim services and to continue to spread the message. More resources and financial support is the only way to sustainably keep pace with the growing need of those who are being trafficked.That said, there is a terrific opportunity to support Switch and their invaluable work in our community on May 19th. The organization will host an evening called Vision: Performance with Purpose at the Poinsett Club, starting at 6:30pm. Courtnay Laws, coordinator for the event shared, “The event will feature local performers from the Carolina Ballet and Centre Stage as well as live painting by Jared Emerson and a fashion exhibition by Missy Perez, who was recently featured at NY Fashion Week.” There will also be a guest appearance by Steven Michaels, an agent with homeland security, who will speak to the need for counter-trafficking efforts. Performances will begin at 8:00pm, preceded by cocktail hour and an opportunity to bid on some fabulous silent auction prizes and packages.
Please come out for an evening of culture and a cause to support the incredibly important work that Switch is doing in Greenville and surrounding areas.
For more information on Vision event, or to purchase tickets, please visit: www.visionforswitch.com
For more information about Switch as an organization, or if you have interest in becoming involved, please visit: www.switchsc.org/