Ever since I graduated from high school, in 1993, I have longed to be a part of something bigger than myself, something that could affect people locally, or even globally. I just couldn’t find that thing, that group, that cause that felt right. So I became a yoga instructor, teaching, among others, young women at the Lithia School, a residential treatment program for teens in placement in Ashland. Most of these girls happened to also be at risk for sex abuse and sex trafficking.
In 2011 a friend sent me a book called “The Road of Lost Innocence”, about sex trafficking, a phenomenon I knew pretty much nothing about of which I was horrified to read. It wasn’t until 2 years later that I learned of its local prevalence which was even more horrifying, and yet still, what to do?
In 2014, my good friend Cecily Palzewich and her partner, Nadejda Razi-Robertson, began a non-profit, Wake Up, aimed at the prevention of and rehabilitation from sex trafficking. Another good friend, Angela Fleischer, testified before congress, about new protocols SOU is taking in conjunction with the local police department in response to sexual abuse cases on campus. And then, of course, Mary Rogan asked me to be a teacher for Shine A Light. All along the way I’ve been standing in the sidelines, cheering on my peers, in awe of the great strides they have made.
I’m not sure that I would have had the gumption to start something as ambitious as Shine A Light, but I have been given the chance to follow in a great leader’s footsteps. The path has been layed out before me, and the gauntlet dropped. I have promised to do my best, and Mary says that my best is “good enough for the Emperor”. Now in my 2nd year of directing Shine A Light, it is still my sincerest wish to make her proud.