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Servitium Project raises alert on human trafficking

By Vicky O. Misa | | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star
Servitium Project logo.

A recently formed local group, called Servitium Project, is taking action to battle sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Though Servitium has just become organized within the past few months, the group has hit the ground running with steps to address the heinous epidemic head-on.

Founder Leslie Phillips, with encouragement and backing from a handful of very supportive friends, is spearheading a call-to-action local residents can join to fight back.

Phillips said when she realized how bad the crisis of human trafficking is, she was shocked.

“I didn't realize it was as big a deal as it is,” she said.

And though she wanted to do something about it, she — like countless others — didn't think she could create much of a change by herself.

“I needed to get people to help,” she said.

With already nearly 500 members in Servitium's private Facebook group, Phillips and her friends are well on their way to making a difference.

“I hope to offer people more opportunities to be aware of the issue,” she said. “I want to empower youth and children to be strong, learn how to navigate situations and guard themselves, as well as reach out for help.”

Phillips said she wants to create programming that can help the community more-readily identify symptoms of sexual abuse and grooming of victims, as well as teach and encourage children to speak up when something inappropriate is happening to them.

A Safe Day at the Park is the group's first planned public event. At KidSpace Park, at the corner of Center and Wayne, from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 3, Servitium is inviting the community to rally together. The event will offer children's activities, a bouncy house, live band, craft vendors, free food and face painting, as well as drawings and raffles.

She said she hopes to make it an annual event.

Servitium meetings

Phillips said the group meets every two weeks, 6 p.m. every other Sunday evening at Forward Solutions 420, a CBD dispensary at 1108 N. Kickapoo. The next meeting is this weekend, Sept. 20.

Recent topics have included, how trauma affects a person and what constitutes a crime, and identifying human trafficking and its tactics.

“So far we have about 10 to 14 people coming to the meetings,” she said. “We offer childcare and refreshments.”

For more information, visit Facebook and search Servitium Project to find the private group page.