PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland non-profit is holding a fundraiser starting Monday to help continue its efforts to provide free legal representation to human trafficking survivors.
The Trafficking Law Center, which provides survivors with free direct legal services and offers trauma-informed training in the Portland area, is partnering with Ki Coffee in Beaverton from the end of June through July for the fundraiser. The coffee shop will feature photos for sale by a local photographer. All proceeds from the photograph sales will go directly to the non-profit.
Each photograph will be listed for about $125. Ki Coffee is also planning to ask customers if they’d like to round up on any food or beverage purchase they make, with those donations also going to the Trafficking Law Center.
“We’ll also have an option if you want to go to the website and donate a larger amount. And all that money will go to helping survivors of human trafficking,” said Melissa Pepitone, legal intern at Trafficking Law Center.
The Trafficking Law Center plans to use the money it raises to continue offering free legal services for survivors.
Pepitone said their services can make all the difference for survivors.
“I think you give a survivor a little bit of that power back in some form, especially in the legal sense. I think it really empowers them to take that step in recovery to get back out there and start their lives over,” she said.
Executive director of the Trafficking Law Center, Joel Shapiro, said it’s difficult to tell if human trafficking has become a greater problem during the pandemic. However, Shapiro added when people are placed under stress and pressure, as many have been during the pandemic, it can lead to an increase in violence and coercion.
One thing he knows for certain is that human trafficking along Interstate 5 and throughout Oregon continues to be an issue.
“There is a misnomer though that trafficking means you get moved from place to place, which does happen, but it’s not a requirement. So, somebody can be trafficked just within Portland,” he explained.
Shapiro said the Trafficking Law Center also networks with other services and agencies throughout the area to help provide survivors with housing and career support and counseling.
Shapiro hopes the fundraiser that starts Monday will be a success and said if people can’t donate, they can still help by keeping their eyes and ears open for any potential instances of human trafficking and by spreading awareness with their family and friends.
The Trafficking Law Center provides free presentations on human trafficking awareness on its website.