A Word From Mark
Dear Friends of WTLC,

For many years, WTLC has approached our domestic violence and human trafficking work with a distinct philosophy: rethink our policies that minimize barriers to our services and truly catalyze our survivor-driven advocacy.

Anchored in this idea, our programmatic focus areas have inevitably intersected with some major injustice facing our community at large: racial injustice – where black and people of color experience negative impact in every facet of day-to-day life. Income gap – where we are seeing the largest gap it’s ever been in 50 years.

Yes – we have made significant programmatic improvements so that survivors can receive high-quality, inclusive, and trauma-free services. Calls to our 24/7 helpline went up by 74% from before the pandemic and we served 1,537 survivors and their families with housing, counseling, legal support, supervised visitation, and community education.

However, we also needed to examine our own internal policies and standards that are embedded with inequity elements unintentionally favoring those who are white, cisgender, and straight individuals. We have doubled up on our effort to create a working environment where every staff can be their true selves, made changes to our recruiting process to diversify our leadership team and board of directors, and adopted our living wage compensation standard to ensure that no one makes less than the living wage needed to survive in Orange County.

 This is just a one of the myriad ways needed to make changes at the organizational level so we can continue to provide effective survivor-driven advocacy. The prospects for 2022 are limitless. We have big plans in the new year – more to come on that soon. However, first thing is to set our personal new year resolutions and stick to it! 
With appreciation,

What's In Your Closet
Nearly 21 million people – three out of every 1,000 people worldwide – are victims of forced labor across the world, trapped in jobs which they were coerced or deceived into and which they cannot leave. 

One contributor to “forced labor” is fast fashion, which is defined as cheap, trendy clothing that transitions directly from the catwalk or celebrity culture to retail stores for consumer purchasing. Its purpose is to get the newest styles on the market as quickly as possible so consumers will purchase them at the height of popularity. 

Since labor typically is cheaper in countries overseas that have lower wages, less strict labor laws, and operate under fair trade agreements, the United States outsources a significant portion of its fashion products to foreign producers. Check the label inside your shirt, and you may find “Made In” Bangladesh, Vietnam, or India printed inside. If consumers desire cheap prices and care little about the origin of their clothes, few incentives exist for clothing companies to produce domestically, even though the ethical standards may be higher.
A Journey Back Home
Shelia was living in the great state of Texas- as she claims- when she first met Luke. He was in town for business when they struck up a conversation waiting in line to place their coffee order. What started as a quick conversation to distract from the long wait, turned into hours which stretched into days. When Luke left to return to CA, Shelia was already certain this was her person. Even with the distance, their love continued to blossom, and then Luke asked her to move to CA and live with him. Nervous and excited about what the future held for her in CA, Shelia knew that this was just the start of a wonderful journey.

When she arrived in CA, Shelia was introduced to a completely different reality. Although Luke looked like the man she has been in a relationship with these past months, he was the not the man she had come to know as “her person.” As the relationship became more violent, Shelia walked on eggshells trying to not set him off, doing whatever he asked- giving up her cellphone and wallet to reassure him that she wasn’t cheating on him or going to leave him at the first chance. Weeks turned to months and Shelia soon found herself trafficked, trying to bring in the amount assigned to her for that day so she would have food, access to a bathroom, and avoid being beaten.
The Power of 50 is a group of community leaders committed to engaging solutions that promote healthier and safer futures.
With the vision to end the cycle of violence, Power of 50 members pledge their time, expertise, and money to the work and mission of WTLC.
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