Tue. Apr 16th, 2024
Ed Royce, Lita Mercado, Marty Simonoff, Oree, a human trafficking survivor, Pastor Alan Frow, and Brea Police Chief Jack Conklin
U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, Lita Mercado, Brea Mayor Marty Simonoff, Oree, a human trafficking survivor, Pastor Alan Frow, and Brea Police Chief Jack Conklin


At the Aug. 1 FREE OC Fundraising Dinner and Auction, The Task Force Debuted Rising Above, OCHTTF’s New Scholarship Fund for Trafficked Survivors

Brea, Calif. (August 3, 2015) – Southlands Church in Brea, the newest faith-based member of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF), which is administrated by nonprofit Community Service Programs (CSP), hosted FREE OC, a sold-out dinner and auction fundraiser for OCHTTF on August 1, 2015 that raised $15,000 to support survivors and help restore dignity to those rescued from sex and labor trafficking in Orange County. In addition to helping bring hope and freedom to survivors, proceeds from FREE OC kick started Rising Above, a new OCHTTF scholarship fund.

The OCHTTF is a virtual organization of multiple agencies organized to stop human trafficking, also called modern-day slavery, in Orange County. These human rights violations occur in the forms of commercial sex (sex trafficking) and forced labor, such as domestic servitude, factory or agricultural work. Since 2004, OCHTTF has assisted more than 450 victims of human trafficking from 36 countries.

“We are thrilled to welcome Southlands Church to the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force as our newest faith-based member,” said Lita Mercado, program director of Community Service Programs Victim Assistance Programs. “The Task Force is deeply appreciative of this successful fundraiser to help trafficking survivors.”

Southlands Church hosted 200 people at FREE OC, which included a dinner, silent auction and addresses by OCHTTF and community leaders. The list of speakers included Lita Mercado, program director of Community Service Programs Victim Assistance Programs, Alan Frow, Southlands Church senior pastor, U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.), City of Brea Mayor Marty Simonoff, City of Fullerton Mayor Greg Sebourn and Oree, a human trafficking survivor. Silent auction items included diamond earrings donated by Mr. and Mrs. Dave Mushegan (an $800 value), a diamond necklace from Mimi’s Jewelry Inc. (a $500 value), and five nights in Cabo San Lucas donated by Mr. and Mrs. Greg Larkin (a $1,500 value).

“Southlands Church is passionate about helping the community and those facing adversity, particularly supporting victims of trafficking,” said Jacquelyn Nethers of Southlands Church. “We are honored to join the incredible OC Human Trafficking Task Force in tackling the issue of human trafficking in Orange County.”

Beneath the beauty of Orange County, something very ugly is taking place: human slavery. But the OCHTTF is tackling this underworld of sex and labor trafficking by aiding survivors and restoring dignity to those rescued from modern-day slavery in Orange County. The enormity of this mission is almost unthinkable, as eight new victims of human trafficking are identified and assisted every month.

Volunteers, such as Southlands Church, complement OCHTTF’s direct victim services by supporting survivors of human trafficking to move towards self-sufficiency and helping them re-integrate into mainstream society as effortlessly and trauma-free as possible.

The success of the OCHTTF is due in part to the collaboration of over 80 law enforcement, victim service providers, nonprofit organizations, community groups and other faith-based organizations. OCHTTF has focused on expanding its network of faith-based organizations to create an environment sympathetic to human trafficking victimology and poised to take the extra care needed to reduce harm as survivors begin life free from slavery.

Given that education is critical means toward self-sufficiency, OCHTTF debuted Rising Above at the dinner and fundraiser. The task force created the scholarship fund to help survivors of human trafficking reach their educational goals. All recipients of scholarship funds will be screened for eligibility based on pre-determined criteria. Donations may be used to support a survivor’s educational goals by buying school supplies, study guides and books for one semester; fees to register for the GED test; community college tuition for one semester; and living expenses for one semester.


About the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force

The Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) is a multidimensional anti-human trafficking effort of over 80 agencies including law enforcement, victim service providers, nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, government agencies and the community. The OCHTTF is committed to combating all forms of human trafficking, prosecuting offenders, advocating on behalf of victims, raising community awareness, and strengthening collaborative partnerships. For more information on the OCHTTF and resources, visit ochumantrafficking.com.

About Community Service Programs

Community Service Programs (CSP) is a nonprofit agency committed to serving children, adults and families living in Orange County. CSP’s model programs assist over 100,000 community members annually, including abused children, struggling families, victims of crime, and those in need of mediation services. For more information on CSP and its programs, visit www.cspinc.org.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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