Recently, at one of our Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Coffee Club events, there was a speaker from an organization called Vista Maria. Vista Maria is a safe harbor for girls who need help. There are a great variety of reasons that a girl might end up at Vista Maria, but the bottom line is that does provide a place where they can go to be safe, get help and start the journey back to a more normal life. Vista Maria provides a physical shelter and a range of programs and services to help girls get back on track and prepare for life.
One of the issues that the representative from Vista Maria discussed was human trafficking. In our supposedly modern and sophisticated society one would seldom think of that problem as happening here, but it does. Michigan has a human trafficking problem and its location next to Canada makes it an easier target for traffickers. We are not one of the top four states for human trafficking, but likely are in the top-10 list. The top states are California, Texas, Florida and New York.
In the U.S. much of the human trafficking is for the sex trade, but a significant amount is still to be found in forced labor amounting to slavery. We’ve had cases of both in the news this past year in this area. To read a report from the Polaris organization that tracks this problem and works to get state laws enacted to combat it, click here.
Drug addiction, either directly or associated with the girls’ parents is one of the biggest problems that lead girls to Vista Maria. Many come from broken families or families that have been forced into homelessness. Some come to the shelter as children with children of their own already. Most have been forced to drop out of school due to their circumstances. Vista Maria offers shelter, services, educational opportunities and programs to get them back on their feet and headed in a better direction. You can find out more about Vista Maria at its web site – www.vistaaria.org or call 313-271-3050. Vista Maria is located in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, at 20651 W. Warren Ave. 48127.
Vista Maria was at the Coffee Club because they are one of the causes that are supported by the Affinity Foundation for
Michigan Kids (see www.agcu4mikids.org ), the charity foundation of the Affinity Group of Credit Unions – www.myagcu.org – which was the host for the Coffee Club. Affinity Group Credit Union is a group of 6 credit Unions in Southeastern Michigan. This Coffee Club was held at the Kensington Valley Community Credit Union location on John St in Highland, Michigan.
Another children-oriented program that the Affinity Group has going on right now is aimed at making a local Kid’s Holiday Brighter by filling a stocking for Christmas. One may donate $5 or any of the items on their list of things for children of various ages. Click here to view their flyer on that program.
The Affinity Group is just one of many area companies and organizations that support local or national charities. The company that I work with – Real Estate One – is a big supporter of the Michigan Special Olympics and the American Cancer Society, among others. Our company encourages employees and its associates to run local fund-raising events by matching the monies collected from those event 50 cents on the dollar, through its Real Estate One Foundation. Does your company have a charity program? Find out how you can help.