Category "Advocacy Program"

Bringing Hope and Resources to Trafficking Survivors during Operation Reclaim and Rebuild

May 21, 2024

Alexis is a ZOE advocate who recently had her first experience working with ZOE International’s Reclaim and Rebuild program. As part of the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, ZOE partners with law enforcement, social workers, and other government and community agencies to help recover children from human trafficking and provide ongoing support to the children and families.

While she typically works with minors who are being exploited, this was her first time interacting with adult women engaged in commercial sex work out of financial necessity.

Alexis went into the experience a bit nervous, unsure of what to expect. What she encountered was a stark reality – the vast majority of the women she met were doing this work not by choice, but simply to meet their basic needs and provide for their children. Many were young single mothers in desperate circumstances.

“It was so heartbreaking to see the desperation,” Alexis shared. “There’s just this big need out there.” Alexis was struck by how many women politely declined the offers of help and services, likely feeling there was no other choice available to them at that moment.

However, Alexis found working with the Reclaim and Rebuild program refreshing because ZOE aimed to provide immediate support and safety. Building a rapport and trust with the women, Alexis could directly ask them, “Are you safe? Do you need help right now? We can get you to a hotel tonight if you’re in danger.”

While most of the women declined assistance that night, Alexis was able to connect with one woman who seemed open to sharing and receiving help in the future. She provided her work contact information, hoping to build trust and offer support whenever that woman feels ready to pursue other options.

Alexis’ passion for this work stems from her love for people and desire to help. “I love supporting and having the opportunity to work in this field and provide some kind of support and help for these kids, just to love them…being able to share their stories and be a part of their life journey has just been a huge blessing.”

Alexis’ experience reinforced the importance of ZOE’s work to urgently address the vulnerabilities that traffickers exploit. Her compassion and persistence represent rays of Christ’s love and hope piercing through exploitation’s darkness. Every small connection plants seeds that can ultimately lead survivors toward freedom.

Right now, there are young girls trapped and in need of being rescued from traffickers. They thirst to experience “true love” that only comes from Jesus. 

Your prayers and financial support ZOE’s work in the following ways: 

  • The identification, rescue, and protection of child victims of human trafficking
  • The collaboration in rescue alongside Government and Law Enforcement
  • The assistance of child victims of human trafficking during the prosecution and citizenship process

Thank you for reaching and rescuing those in need for God’s kingdom today!



Reflecting on ZOE’s Advocacy Program Success

May 13, 2024

ZOE LA’s Final Graduation Ceremony and the Program’s Transformative Impact on Survivors

Five years ago, ZOE secured a contract with the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles County to provide advocacy services for children who have fallen victim to sex trafficking or are highly at risk of exploitation.

When a ZOE advocate connects with a youth, their primary focus is establishing a sense of emotional and physical safety with them. Often, these youth find themselves ensnared in the grip of traffickers, where they face coercion, manipulation, and threats. 

ZOE’s Advocates learn about the youth’s immediate circumstances, their physical, emotional, and social needs, and help the youth in navigating through dangerous situations.

Through weekly in-person meetings, meals, healthy activities, or simply being present in the youths’ lives, ZOE Advocates become a mentor and safe person whom the youth can reach out to in times of need. Advocates spend most of their time on the field driving as far north as Lancaster, as far south as Long Beach, and as far east as Pomona.

A social worker shared, “ZOE has a wide range of community partners and creative solutions that I haven’t seen before that contributed to the success of the child. I enjoyed working with ZOE’s team who is dedicated to going above and beyond to help the child.”

ZOE provides formal support to the youth for up to a year and a half. For youth who complete the program, ZOE hosts a graduation celebration to honor their achievements and strengths.

One youth shared, “I want to say thank you to my Advocates because if I didn’t have ZOE, I don’t think I would be here today. I think I would be in a very dangerous situation.”

As ZOE’s contract with the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles County came to an end, we held our final graduation ceremony for a couple of the youth and had a follow-up celebration inviting all the youth that we stayed in contact with and worked with in the past. We held an open mic for the youth to share about their experiences. 

Ester Yu, ZOE’s Assistant Western Regional Director, shared, “One of our girls went up and was preaching to the whole group. What she shared felt like it really exemplified the heart and the work of all the years of this program – sharing and showing the love of Jesus.”

This story, and many more heartwarming experiences that our ZOE Advocates have had with the youth, (ZOE served over 100 youth every year), is a testament to the power of God’s love and compassion working through the hearts and minds of the youth we serve. We could not do this life transformative work without supporters like you! Thank you for faithful prayers and support for these survivors.

If you’d like to continue supporting ZOE’s prevention and restoration efforts in LA, learn more here!



ZOE Los Angeles First Quarter Update

March 21, 2022

ZOE Advocacy Program

Thanks to you, our donors and partners, the children that ZOE serves in our Advocacy Program, and our ZOE Home for Youth experienced a wonderful Christmas, being reminded that they are loved and valued. More than 50 children in our Advocacy Program received items from their wishlists, gift cards, Christmas stockings full of gifts, and more, all donated! The holidays can often be a painful time for our children as they long to be with family they can’t be with or long to have a family of their own, often leading them to hurt themselves or engage in harmful activities. The youth were reminded by you how loved and precious they are. One child received a keyboard she requested to practice piano. Another child received a nail kit set to practice nail design, part of her future vocational goals. These are healthy activities to bring joy and positive coping skills. 

ZOE Home for Youth

At ZOE’s Home for Youth, the girls were all giddy for Christmas. “They asked if they could open their Christmas gifts at midnight instead of waiting until Christmas morning,” said Vickie McCoy, ZOE’s Residential Manager. As they opened the gifts they received, they screamed with excitement. The youth shared, “I have never received this many gifts before!” Material gifts cannot fill the pain and holes left by the trauma and abuse they have experienced, but celebrations with staff and each other, meaningful conversations, and messages of hope created a sense of family and belonging that they have not experienced in a long time or ever before.

Thank you to all our donors, churches, and partners who made this Christmas so special! 

Operation Reclaim and Rebuild

Operation Reclaim and RebuildAs part of the LA Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, ZOE partners with law enforcement, social workers, and other government and community agencies to help recover children from human trafficking and provide ongoing support to the children and families.

In February, ZOE took part in a week-long state-wide effort to combat human trafficking called Operation Reclaim and Rebuild. Sixty-five adult and 7 minor victims were recovered, 182 males were arrested for soliciting prostitution, and 30 suspected traffickers and exploiters were arrested.

We applaud the LA Regional Human Trafficking Task Force for doing a great job arresting traffickers and recovering victims of human trafficking during this week-long operation. “We need our police force to help us end child trafficking,” said Dave.

Please join with us and pray the survivors get the support they need and those who exploited others get the justice and resources they need to stop hurting others.

ZOE Advocacy Graduations

November 12, 2021

In 2019, ZOE was awarded a contract with Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services to provide advocacy services for children who are victims of sex trafficking or highly at risk of becoming victims.

When law enforcement recovers a child from sex trafficking in the North LA County area, they will call ZOE to respond within 90 minutes to provide victim advocacy support alongside a social worker. Or when a social worker or probation officer believes the child they are serving is a victim of sex trafficking or highly at risk of becoming a victim, they can request a ZOE Advocate to come alongside that youth to build relationship with to help the youth toward goals of safety, well-being, self-sufficiency, and a permanent home.

In 2020, ZOE served 112 youth through this program.These youth are served by an amazing team of about 12 ZOE Advocates including Case Managers, Survivor Advocates who have experienced and overcome commercial sexual exploitation themselves, and aParent Advocate whose child has recovered from sex trafficking.
Advocates’ primary focus in the beginning is to help the youth feel safe emotionally and physically. Many times, youth are in the midst of being controlled, influenced, threatened by traffickers so Advocates learn about the youth’s current circumstances; immediate physical, emotional, social, and other needs; and help the youth problem-solve their very dangerous situations. Through weekly in-person meetings, meals, healthy activities, and simply doing “life” together, Advocates become a mentor and safe person for youth to reach out to in times of need. Advocates spend most of their time on the field driving as far north as Lancaster, as far south as Long Beach, and as far east as Pomona.
ZOE is able to provide formal support up to a year and a half. For youth who complete the program, ZOE hosts a graduation celebration to honor their achievements and strengths. Due to COVID, ZOE had our first graduation in March 2021 and have since had two more graduations. We anticipate hosting approximately

five or six graduations a year.

At the graduations, youth are able to share any words of reflection from the past year while Advocates are able to praise them for their accomplishments. It is always an emotional, encouraging time to remember how far the youth have come. Youth have shared:
“I want to say thank you to my Advocates because if I didn’t have ZOE, I don’t think I would be here today. I think I would be in a very dangerous situation.”

“Looking at myself and comparing it to back then, I’m a completely different person. I know when I’m mad to talk to someone and use my communication. And I know how to have situations in a positive manner. I’m thankful for people who helped me through it all, every step of the way. But all the hard work was from me but I couldn’t have done it without the comfort, the motivation from my Advocate who has helped me in all the ways that she could. To all the Advocates and just the ZOE program in general, I personally would like to say that I appreciate all of you for changing this path and helping kids to thrive.”

At our most recent graduation in August 2021, a youth and his ZOE Advocate shared about how he struggled to engage in the beginning of the program. But with the persistent efforts and care of the Advocate, he began to meet, improve his relationship with his mother, and began to complete school assignments. He also shared about his dream to open his own clothing business. ZOE took him

 on outings to visit the fashion district, interview a business owner, and create a design for his own clothing line with a graphic designer. At the graduation, ZOE was able to present him with a tshirt and sweatshirt with his design. It was a physical representation and reminder of all the hard work he did in the program.

In addition, our Parent Advocate was also able to honor parents who participated in ZOE’s program by encouraging them to continue to love their children unconditionally and support them intheir journey toward healing.

Ongoingly, if individuals, organizations, or businesses wish to support the children served in ZOE’s Advocacy Program, the following are always in need:

  • Updated Amazon wishlist: https://a.co/elZDNLZ
  • Gift cards for birthday/graduation/baby shower celebrations or meals with Advocates: Starbucks, McDonalds, Wingstop, Panda Express, Subway, Chick Fil A, Michaels, Amazon, Ulta Beauty, Sephora, Target, Walmart, Foot Locker, Bath & Body, Uber
  • Grocery gift cards: Food for Less, Albertsons, Vons, Ralphs
  • Snacks: Fruit flavored cans of Arizona Iced Tea, cans/bottles of Coke, spicy chips, cup o noodles, Goldfish crackers
  • Help with special events (baby shower, graduations, shopping for gifts on child’s Christmas wishlist)
  • Church groups all over LA County willing to be trained to minister to some of our families who have basic needs and that we can connect our families to.
  • Be on emergency needs list: We can reach out when we have an urgent need if they are able to help
  • Vehicles/drivers to delivery donated furniture
  • Hosting support groups and events at safe settings like churches
  • Meals for support groups

We are so thankful for community, business, and church partners who have helped ZOE meet the needs of these precious children, including:

  • First and last month’s rent deposit to relocate in order to escape threats from traffickers
  • Extensive dental treatment allowing a youth to smile for the first time in two years after the loss of her front teeth from an assault
  • Emergency cell phones for youth to contact ZOE in crisis
  • Emergency hotel stay for 18+ youth who are escaping traffickers
  • Uber rides for 18+ youth who need last-minute transportation to their job or to escape traffickers
  • Furniture for families whose child is returning home after being reunified