Forever Found Hygiene Drive

Kristin Rosenmund, Administrator

According to the U.S Department of State, around 14,500 to 17,500 people experience human trafficking each year in the United States.  For many victims, it can be incredibly hard to recover from this experience, or get the right resources to find comfort and knowledge on all they have gone through.  Forever Found is a non profit organization that is aimed to educate youth victims as well as give community members a way to support those who have gone through or been affected by human trafficking.

At the beginning of this school year, senior Emilia Centeno found herself assuming the President position of the Teal Club here at Rio Mesa, a club that works towards providing information and support on sexual assault.  While working her club rush booth, Emilia was approached by Deputy Rodriguez who asked her if she would like to become a Freedom Ambassador for the Forever Found Organization.  Knowing this was an important cause to her, Emilia agreed.

Along with attending trainings and helping give back to survivors in the community, Emilia was able to provide a presentation in the library at lunch from Leah Haynes on January 18, 2023 from Forever Found.  Leah manages all community engagements and volunteer work for the Forever Found organization.  As a group of over fifteen students gathered to listen to this presentation, Leah provided information on human trafficking in Ventura County, and more on what Forever Found really is and the resources the organization provides.

In order to help human trafficking victims, Emilia Centeno and Elissandra Hernandez, the two freedrom ambassadors from Rio Mesa, have set up a hygiene drive that will run until February 10, 2023.  Students are encouraged to drop off all items in the office which aside from hygiene products also include items such as gift cards, chapstick, socks, and clothes.  The organization has asked for contributors to refrain from donating makeup as it may remind survivors of the life that they left behind.  All of these donated items will be sent to human trafficking survivors as many of them currently lack these commodities due to the circumstances they are under.

While the Forever Found organization has already opened up Emilia’s eyes to a movement she aspires to support for the rest of her lifetime, she hopes that other students are able to experience these same realizations through the Forever Found organization.

“I hope that people are able to define human trafficking and its realities, not just what is described on a screen. I hope that through Forever Found people become more aware of human trafficking in our community and encourage them to educate themselves on the topic. I hope that students are encouraged to join the fight against child human trafficking and volunteer at organizations like Forever Found.”

Even though Forever Found was an organization Emilia knew nothing about at the beginning of this school year, she is extremely grateful for all she has learned and experienced throughout her time as a Freedom Ambassador. This serves as a great reminder that it is rewarding to take the opportunities that come at you, as they can lead to a newfound mindset and appreciation for what the world has to offer.