I'm grateful to be able to guest blog for Daniel this week and share some of my heart with you. Before we jump into that—let's get real—how awesome, servant-hearted, hard-working and kind is Daniel, y'all? Daniel and my friendship started over some design emails and somehow turned into a connection over our advocacy for justice for those who have been sexually exploited. A little bit of all of that is what I want to share with you today.
I was raised in Albany and decided my senior year to pursue a degree in Graphic Design at SCAD–Atlanta. While studying at SCAD I subsequently fell in love with this beautiful, lively city. At first my heart for Atlanta began with an adoration of it's skyscrapers and skyline—not as much the traffic, that's a part of our relationship that will never mend. Since moving here my knowledge of the city and it's communities has shifted from an adoration to something that I have loved to invest in.
Two years after moving to Atlanta I had the opportunity to serve with the Atlanta Dream Center. Our bus ride from Midtown to our location in East Atlanta was just like any other bus ride with people you barely know … a little awkward. Thankfully a guy next to me broke the ice when he began pointing down a street on Ponce De Leon to a not-so-amazing house that he said he lived in. He went on to explain his heart for the area and that women are bought, sold or forced to have sex on those very streets, in those very houses next to his. He explained to me that he and some friends chose to live there so they could be in a neighborhood where this injustice happens—a light in a dark place. I sat and listened— at first not believing him. What is sex trafficking? What does that even mean? From that day on I slowly became enlightened to statistics like Atlanta being one of the largest hubs in the world for sex trafficking. My eyes were opened to a side of Atlanta that wasn't as pretty as it's skyline.
After graduation I knew I desired to connect my heart for injustice to my passion for design. I desired more than just a career of purposeless work. Shout out to designers reading this —you know how easy is it to drown in the mundane. Project after project. Sitting all day, inside, super pale (cause everyone knows we designers aren't tan) staring into a backlit screen. It is easy to forget why we do what we do or if we can even make a difference in our profession.
Remember all of that and now fast forward to about a year ago. A friend and local Atlanta photographer named Andy Brophy approached me with a brilliant concept that aligns both of those things: Love Gives Way.
Love Gives Way is a community of artists (Photographer, Cake Maker, Designer, DJ, Makeup Artist, Florist, to name a few…) that has joined together to offer the typical services a bride would use to make her wedding day happen and donate a portion of those services to Wellspring Living. Wellspring Living is a non-profit that confronts the issue of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation through awareness, training, and treatment programs for women and girls. The idea here is using a thing as powerful and sacred as a wedding day—and everything you would do to make that day come together— as leverage for these girls that do not have a voice. People love attending a wedding and making that day all about the bride & groom ... add to that a bride and groom that points their day towards this cause, that is huge traction and awareness.
For most people, it is difficult to see such a massive global issue and then see your day to day and wonder how those two things can line up. I encourage you to remember design is powerful and the impact a group of artist can have on their community is equally powerful. To quote the modern day abolitionist, Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission ('IJM'): "Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern-day slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are." Just like I was made aware that Saturday morning—now you are. There are lots of ways to get involved in fighting sex slavery. If you have time, give time. If you have money, give money. We can all give our talents. You can also help us spread the word of Love Gives Way. We are a vendor community that has a heart for freedom for these victims. If you’re engaged to be married (or know someone) and in or around the Atlanta area – join the Love Gives Way Community. One wedding at a time, we are bringing freedom & restoration to sexually exploited victims everywhere.
Knowing the freedom I have experienced in my own life it is in me to desire to fight for freedom for others. The human race longs for freedom—it's in our bones. If we can all tune into the reality that there are actually 27 million slaves on the planet today (more than ever in history) our talents can begin to find ways to align themselves to goodness in the world. I feel like it is in the moments, when we know we are making a difference, we fulfill the purpose of why our talent has been given in the first place.