I have given to many a good organization throughout my lifetime, but none has inspired me more than the fight to protect vulnerable young girls. You have no doubt heard that there is a rise in the number of stories about missing and exploited youth. In fact, according to UNICEF 1.2 million children worldwide are being trafficked each year and Oakland is considered one of 2 major hubs in the United States.

MISSSEY was founded by 2 survivors and 2 allies and their Mission is potent: To provide services to the commercially sexually exploited and to work for systemic change with the youth they serve.  They have done years of work with Oakland Police, Local, Regional and Federal government to create systemic change for the youth they serve. This goes directly to their Vision of a world without commercial sexual exploitation.

At a fundraiser for MISSSEY hosted by Oakland-based Shine Center for Well Being and Laura Martin Bovard Interiors, I had the honor to meet Holly Joshi, MISSSEY’s outgoing director. She talked to us about the work she did while at Oakland Police as well as recent headway on State laws that would match the severity of Federal sentencing.

The average age of trafficked youth is 12 years old.  This hits home for me as my own children fall within this exact age range. What makes these children so vulnerable is instability within the home due to economic, social or physical challenges. In Oakland, Children of color are the largest number of youth affected because they disproportionately overlap with these tougher economic conditions.

Just looking around the abundant and wealthy Bay Area it is more than evident that the number of folks falling through the cracks is on the rise and these children are some are the most vulnerable. Strong homes from family structures to intact physical structures are the key. Based in Oakland, MISSSEY runs a homelike environment that provides shelter, a hot meal and mentoring. The work is in partnership with youth “helping them transition from victim to survivor to leader, encouraging their long-term stability and success in whatever path they choose.”

Through Arana Craftsman Painters we have become a monthly donor to MISSSEY and we are working on donating our painting services to them to help them transform the girl’s space. I firmly believe that Thanksgiving is a daily ritual and one that should be exercised through giving. Please help this very important organization provide these much needed services. Please consider giving to MISSSEY:  www.misssey.com

Your Guide to Stress-Free Thanksgiving Prep

Hosting Thanksgiving at your house this year? With so many details to coordinate, guests to host and dishes to cook, having a plan will save headaches and pave the way for a beautiful feast you can really feel grateful for. This breakdown of just what to do and when, from the early preparations to Thanksgiving Day, can help.

Thanksgiving Week

  • Shop for perishables.
  • Pick up the turkey if you’re buying fresh.
  • Gather your recipes. Pin copies to a bulletin board, tape them to the kitchen wall or at least bookmark them in your cookbooks for easy reference.
  • Write the cooking plan (oven temperatures and cooking times) on a whiteboard or tape it to the wall, somewhere that you and your helpers can easily check it.

The Night Before

  • Set the table if you’re serving family style or set up the buffet.
  • Put labeled serving dishes and implements on trivets on the table or buffet.
  • Tidy up around the house.
  • Prep any dishes you can to ease the workload for the next day.
  • Put anything you made in advance and froze in the fridge to thaw.

On Thanksgiving Day

  • Fill a dishpan with soapy water and use it to clean as you go.
  • Start the turkey in the morning and follow your cooking plan.
  • If anyone offers to help, accept!
  • Wrap up leftovers promptly to avoid food-borne illnesses. If you’re giving leftovers to guests, pack the food in takeout containers and store it in the fridge until it’s time to go.
  • Run a load of dishes in the dishwasher before sitting down to dessert.
  • Now sit back and enjoy that pie!

Article written by Laura Gaskill read article