Scott: [00:00:00] Dollars and Cents with Hapo Community Credit Union helps empower our listeners to achieve financial success while living for today and planning for tomorrow. This podcast focuses on financial education, community support, fraud prevention, real life stories of financial transformation, and much more.

Hapo Community Credit Union serves Washington and Oregon with over 18 locations. Bank on more when you bank with us. Hi, everybody, and welcome back to another episode of Dollars and Cents, Hapo Community Credit Union's financial literacy podcast. Today in the studio, I have Tricia McFarlane, the executive director of Mirror Ministries and we have just recently finished in January human trafficking awareness month, which is basically the main focus of Mirror Ministries, 

Tricia: correct?

That is what we do is we work with local victims of sex trafficking here in the Tri Cities and greater surrounding areas. All [00:01:00] right. Well, Tricia, 

Scott: I am very excited to have you here today. We're going to be talking mostly about the financial impact of human trafficking as well as human trafficking in general because of the recent spotlight month, what it is that mirror ministries does to help these individuals out.

I don't want to say women because it's more than just that. It is. And how exactly basically people can help and keep an eye out. I think those are the general topics that we'll be covering. Okay, but let's start with a quick introduction to you and Mirror Ministries and what it is that you guys accomplish.

Tricia: Thanks. Well, I am Trisha McFarlane. I'm the executive director and one of the co founders of Mirror Ministries. This is our 10th anniversary this year. And it's been a long ride, but it's amazing to see what has been accomplished in our community. I'd love to say we, you know, stopped sex trafficking in tri cities, but unfortunately, it's actually grown [00:02:00] and, and keeps going.

But we, we are very confident that the work we've done has been able to keep a lot of people out of exploitation and been able to be early intervention for 

Scott: others. I know that you provided me with this one sheet, some information about 2023. Yeah. You mentioned the number of people that have been helped by mirror ministries on here.

I'm seeing 108 in 

Tricia: 2023. Right. That was what we would say found freedom new assessments that we've done. So 108. More people that were able to escape from that exploitation, given that opportunity of hope and restoration just here in our Tri Cities last year, over 108. To 

Scott: me, that is it feels like a very large number of people.

It doesn't seem like the type of thing, in my mind, that would be as big of a local issue. Is that something that, that we're seeing amongst a lot of people? I don't know. I, I don't see this happening in my backyard and [00:03:00] therefore obviously it happens somewhere 

Tricia: else. I think most of us think and, and it helps us to deal with things that it, it happens somewhere else to someone else.

Unfortunately been doing this for a while and I know it happens right here. Constantly surprised. At the new, something new coming up. We think we've seen everything, and there's always a new twist to it. I, when I first started looking at sex trafficking and what we could do about it, or human trafficking in general, I also knew it was happening in Cambodia.

Went to Cambodia, learned about things, came home to find out it was happening right here in our own community, and that was a stab in the gut. But once you know, You've got to do something 

Scott: about it. Yeah, it does feel like the type of thing that if it's happening, say in Cambodia, just because you brought that up.

Yeah, okay, cool. I can I can lend a little bit of hand, maybe donate some money or something along those lines. But when it's happening in your own backyard, it becomes much more of a I can actually do something [00:04:00] more. solid to to assist in this particular situation. 108 people in just one year. That's a pretty heavy impact.

Tricia: It's a pretty heavy impact. And we're working with a pretty small staff. So that tells us that there's a whole lot more out there. If these are the ones that we're reaching, you did mention, it's not just women. We work with people of all ages, all genders, all backgrounds. People have I have preconceived ideas of what it might look like to be a sex trafficking victim.

I can tell you, you work with people, you live next door to people, you go to church with people that this has impacted their lives. So yeah, 

Scott: it's not, it's not the movie taken. It's not, you're on vacation in Europe and somebody is going to bust down the door and you're lucky enough to have Liam Neeson be your father to come save 

Tricia: you.

I mean, the first part of that could happen. Liam Neeson, maybe not as likely. It could happen, but it is the least known form of sex [00:05:00] trafficking. It typically is more someone who has made themselves known, or seemed to be known. So, a lover boy or Romeo type of situation. Or even befriending that used to be in person.

Now they can do that online as well and they can actually be exploiting and manipulating a lot more people. 

Scott: I'm assuming that that our past couple of years with a bit more heightened online aspects to life. A little bit less out in public, probably exacerbated that. 

Tricia: Absolutely, plus we, yeah, we gave every child their own Chromebook.

They needed them. There's good purposes for all these things. I'm not trying to say that, you know, the internet is horrible 

Scott: evil. I mean, but at the same time, we know that we know what 

Tricia: exists out there. Anywhere there's vulnerabilities, there's going to be people with, that are going to try and exploit those.

There are going to be some people who are going to try and exploit those vulnerabilities. That's why you [00:06:00] see the people that get arrested for these things, you know, are coaches, or superintendents, or, you know, people that are, In positions of trust. I was 

Scott: going to say, that was the word that I was just about to bring up, was trust.

Often times this comes down to, it sounds like, an individual that has built a rapport with, with who they are planning, or maybe just see an opportunity to traffic. In, in your work, have you seen if it's more opportunistic, or is it planned? Oh, 

Tricia: by, 

Scott: By the perpetrator, the person that is intending to do the trafficking.

Tricia: Okay. So we have three parties here. We've got the person who's being trafficked. We have the, the perpetrator who's sometimes called the John, the buyer who really is the person who is responsible for all of the violence and damage that's happening. Because without that person, if there's no demand, I mean, you're you're an economics, right?

If there's no demand, then there's no need for supply. If there's no demand, there's [00:07:00] no need for the third party trafficker. Then we have that trafficker who is the third party exploiter, right? Who's not well, who is also doing a lot of damage, but would be out of the picture entirely. If this was if nobody was buying human beings, then there wouldn't, then there would be some other thing that they'd be doing.

Yes. So your question was, 

Scott: The person that is doing the trafficking, how planned or opportunistic is 

Tricia: it? The majority of traffickers is very planned. There's actually books on the market and tutorials on pimpology. I don't recommend you get them and, and it's bad business and, and I wish they weren't allowed, but we don't ban books.

So hopefully the marketplace takes care of that. Yeah. Or even the, the, the sellers of the books, you know, maybe they wouldn't be a marketplace for that type of book, but there, there is a mental manipulation plan for it. So, especially in that Romeo pimping kind of thing we're talking about. They, it's very much [00:08:00] like what we have all learned about domestic violence.

They start building a relationship and trust. They start telling them how special and wonderful they are. Then they start slowly pulling them away from all the other people in their life. People who would otherwise maybe. Tell them that something bad is going on. And then one day things snap and change and all of a sudden boundaries start getting pushed and just a little bit and a little bit, say this seems 

Scott: to mirror narcissism and it seems to mirror domestic violence as well in both of those.

Is that pretty 

Tricia: accurate to say, yes, we often say it's domestic violence on meth because often. The drugs are involved in there as well to manipulate people. And people often ask, you know, why are so many survivors, drug addicts, why are so many survivors and I wouldn't, those are their words, right? I would prefer to say, why are so many people addicted to drugs that come out of this, or have mental health issues.

Well, if you are being beaten, abused [00:09:00] and raped on a daily basis by the average of 10 times a day. You probably also would need some sort of coping mechanism. Yeah. But the traffickers also use that as a manipulation factor, because when you do get somebody addicted, It is, it's a demon you're dealing with, and they can keep that at play, give you just enough to keep it, yeah.


Scott: and they, they keep you reliant on them to get that fix, if you will in order to keep going. So you have one less, or one more chain holding you 

Tricia: in that particular situation. Exactly, one more thing keeping it to where you can't. They, they literally become reliant on their trafficker for life and death.

Every decision, every choice, every consent has been taken from them. But they might be still living right around you looking normal if you don't know what to look for. So, you know, it's just, you, you think maybe that's a troublesome teen. Maybe that's, you know, whatever it is we might be putting those [00:10:00] labels and judgments on.

But if we start opening our eyes a little bit more and seeing and maybe, maybe asking some questions and looking a little deeper. reasons for some of that behavior. 

Scott: So given that, let's talk about some of the signs that people should be looking for. I know here at our work we recently went through, because January is human trafficking awareness month, a company wide training about how to look for.

Certain signs in behavior and attitude because what we're going to get to eventually in this conversation is some of the financial impacts on human trafficking and the people who have been trafficked and what that can do. to them. We know that they are going to most likely end up in a financial institution along with many other public places where people can keep an eye out for certain behaviors.

One in particular that I'll bring up right now because you mentioned they become dependent on this person. One that stuck out to me is looking for [00:11:00] people who have to check for permission before answering questions. What are some of the other signs that we can be looking out for so that people can know how to spot these things?

Yeah. Well, 

Tricia: let's start with little kids. If you see hypersexualization with little kids, you know, they're acting out sexually have knowledge of sexual things that little tiny kids shouldn't know. That's going to be a, a big indicator of something is going on with that kiddo. And this is 

Scott: probably beyond the kindergarten cop quote of the little kid when Arnold first walks into the classroom where his father's job is as a gynecologist.

So he has some. information that he can share there, which he's very 

Tricia: proud to share scientific information. Our kiddos should have our kids should know the proper names for their body parts. It's important because how are they supposed to tell us what's going on if they don't actually know how they're 

Scott: coming in and talking about things that some of us probably didn't learn about until after 

Tricia: college.

If they're talking [00:12:00] about actual sexual acts offering, acting out, trying to do things That children shouldn't be trying to do. Exactly. Right? Little children, no matter what your moral stance is on anything, these little children should not be, should not be a norm for them. I mean, let's face it, boys typically don't even think girls are somebody to look at until Yeah, cooties, cooties are a big, a big deal.

So when you're talking elementary and middle school, you're gonna be seeing different, suddenly different kinds of behavior. Same with high school. It may be that they are acting out more sexually, or it may be that they're trying to hide in sweats and disappear. But a big change in the way they dress, the way they behave sometimes they're, the parents are trying to figure out what's going on with my kid.

Why did they become such a, you know, a wild, horrible kid all of a sudden something, something's happened there. Okay. Why, why does that little 12 year old girl suddenly start using meth, right? You know, some, there's some reason that, that these things are happening there. As you go up further, [00:13:00] you middle school, high school, you might see relationships that are with somebody much older or just held secret.

You know that she, she or he has a friend or romantic interest, but there's no, no communication and, and sharing with that. Usually you'd want to share that person with the people around you. So 

Scott: I assume that also a secret relationship in those lines. 

Tricia: Correct. Yeah. And then kids might have extra phones that the parents did not give to them.

So that gives the perpetrator the opportunity to talk with the kiddo on a regular basis. We should probably take a break for a second, talk about what's the definition of sex trafficking. Okay. So people often ask what's the difference between prostitution and sex trafficking and that's a legal definition.

What we see though is there, we haven't really run into somebody who has been prostituting that at some point wasn't Okay. 

Scott: Forced, fraud or court. A strong link between the 

Tricia: two. Yeah, there's a strong link. So [00:14:00] looks like prostitution. The legal definition is there's been forced fraud or coercion used to compel a person into commercial sexual activities.

So for that legal definition, that forced fraud or coercion and what makes it sex trafficking is that commercial entity to do with sexual activities, but then there's a big or anyone under the age of 18, as soon 

Scott: as a minor is involved. Yes. 

Tricia: It no longer, you don't need that force, fraud and coercion. It's by age.

So there doesn't even have to be a third party when we're talking about a child. So it could be just the perpetrator who has befriended your child online and promised to give them, you know, to meet them behind the shed at the park and give them vape in exchange for things that we're not going to talk about here.

Correct. We're also seeing a lot of online exploitation with the kids in particular, but also with adults, right? We all can be pretty vulnerable when we all have some vulnerabilities and the exploiters learn to figure those out. We've [00:15:00] talked 

Scott: on previous episodes about romance scams and fraud, and this is Generally speaking, just fraudulent attempting to get money out of people who are lonely, elderly people or, or just using basically the online fraud, those type 

Tricia: of situations.

We had a gentleman, very nice gentleman call the other day, and he was very concerned about these two young ladies that he'd been talking to online, and he was quite sure that they were probably being sex trafficked. And as we talked to him further, he's been helping them with gift cards, et cetera, for quite some time.

And anytime we're hearing, you know, gift cards, hopefully we're starting to understand if somebody is asking you to go buy gift cards and send money through gift cards, it is a scam, whatever, whatever they're trying to. Yeah. So bless his heart. Yeah, this is an older gentleman that They're just playing that way on.

We've seen an uprise in young boys being tricked online. And they think they've got [00:16:00] this new girlfriend that they've met online. She eventually convinces him to send a picture, a private picture. And he sends that picture and immediately he gets an email back saying, Send me 2, 500 to this thing by this time or else.

Mm hmm. And unfortunately that drives point. Now 

Scott: we have the coercion, we've got a at risk individual who is going to be very nervous about everything that they've done anyways, at a young age, very manipulable, granted, trying to have them find 2, 500 seems a bit of a stretch, but I think that's probably part of the point 

Tricia: it is.

And the, the, the scheme knows enough to teach the child how to get to that money out of their parents accounts. Yes. You know, they, they go get the card out of the parents purse or wallet and that kind of thing. But we're also seeing, I mean, these are often middle school boys and we also know there's not, the brain development is not fully there yet, the cause and effect.

And then you [00:17:00] get the shame factor that the perpetrator is putting in there. They know they've done something wrong. How can they possibly go tell their parents they're just going to fix this real quick. Yeah. They're more 

Scott: concerned about getting in trouble and being grounded and having the Nintendo taken away than they are about the massive ramifications that are about to come.


Tricia: And they don't understand that once we, once we do this step, then they're going to ask for more. So there's always the next step, always the next step and it builds higher. So any age, any gender from very young kids to very old people when we think that, you know, we're past getting exploited. So, 

Scott: We talked right there a little bit.

We hit kind of the financial part of this where it's 2, 500. Now they're, they're extorting money from these individuals. When you and I chatted originally about this podcast, we talked a little bit about some of the other things that the traffickers and possibly the Johns would do. Once they've gotten somebody taking out loans in their name what are, let's go into that [00:18:00] topic a little bit on the financial side of what that might end up looking like for somebody because that's going to be another one of those things that's tying them to their trafficker.

Tricia: Right. People always ask, why don't, why don't they just leave? Right. I'm gonna use the word she most often because that's, that's our. Larger clientele, but remembering that this can be male or female, transgender, any, yeah, she will have to leave choosing poverty. So what she's dealing with on a daily basis is brutal and terrifying and horrible, but she's learned to survive in that.

If you think of like a prisoner of war or something, right. This becomes your whole world, and you've learned to survive in this little world. Trying to get out of that world is terrifying. She has to, she has to make a really big decision, and she knows when she leaves, she's leaving into abject poverty.

She's going to be homeless, she's going to be impoverished. Unless she happens to [00:19:00] have a good situation she can return to with other, you know, resources. Good support network in some way, she feels, yeah, that she feels her trafficker isn't aware of. Which is unlikely. He's going to know those things right from the grooming process.

So she's going to leave. She's homeless now. She has no money. But also when she goes to the bank to try to get a loan, she finds out that all of the the houses that they have lived in, all of the cars that they have had, those things have been put into her name instead of his name. 

Scott: And I'm assuming that the payments have 

Tricia: been missed.

A few of them. Yeah. Yeah. And then they move to another spot so that they can't locate those. Well, you can't move a house. Yes. They move so the cars aren't found, et cetera. But those defaulted loans all become. on her credit score. Now she has no money. She's trying to find a job. She often also is going to be the fall guy for any criminal charges.

So sometimes she has a criminal record as well. [00:20:00] So she's trying to rent an apartment with No income, no ability to get a job and no credit to her name. Yeah. Terrible, terrible credit writing. So just no credit. Yeah. Terrible credit. So what are her options without agencies that are going to come in without good people in our community that are going to come around and surround them to help them get out of that hole cavernous hole.

Scott: Yeah. There's a lot that needs to be done when. Just your credit score has been hit that hard to bring it back up to a position where you can do financial things that most people are able to do, even with a bad credit score, because at this point, if it's just like really down in the in the bad range, you got a lot to do.

But we're also talking about that little devil on the shoulder that saying if you leave this situation, Nobody's going to want you [00:21:00] because you're a druggie, if that's part of, of this situation, you're not going to be able to get a job you're going, and they like build up this in, in their mind. So you're looking at effectively the lesser of two evils type of a decision.

You go with the bad situation that you know that you are surviving or into the scary unknown out there where you have no clue. What is waiting for you and how you will get 

Tricia: out. The evil I know is less terrifying than the, than the 

Scott: unknown. Exactly. And then of course, that's where groups like mirror ministry come in, where if we can show this individual, Hey, this is a support network that can help you with that.

Now that unknown becomes a little less terrible or a lot less terrible. And we can start to help people in those situations that financial impact that that thing. I know a lot of people out there listening will [00:22:00] understand when you're just like, Hey, my life is going pretty good, but if I do this thing, can I financially handle that?

This is on a whole nother level of, of trying to do that. You don't have a job, you don't have an income stream. You don't have the ability to get credit. You don't have anything. 

Tricia: You don't have a support base around you. 

Scott: Yeah. So you really do need a support network, right, that you can rely on. But again, you've been taught this entire time that relying on people isn't exactly the best move.

So I can see how it could be very difficult for somebody to convince themselves to get up and just walk away. 

Tricia: Plus they have the complex PTSD from extreme complex trauma. They've got, they've got a lot going on, but we see great things happening. We see Particularly, once again I'm going to talk on the women, the young women that we're seeing and middle aged and older but the young mamas in particular, [00:23:00] they're getting out, they want something better for their kids.

They know that these, these kids deserve to not have to live like this. She gets out, we help her get out, we help her get those basic safety needs, those, you know, the basic hierarchy of, shelter. But then she's got to keep moving forward. So she's got a job. She's got a couple jobs trying to make ends meet.

She's found some good daycare for her kiddos. She's got an old vehicle that, you know, she's able to use, but gas now is extremely expensive and groceries have skyrocketed. So she goes, she's doing really good. She's, she goes to her state appointment because she's supposed to get state aid for her kiddos.

And she needs this right now, but because she is working so hard and working those jobs, the state aid says, Oh, you're making too much money. You don't get any assistance anymore. Right that moment, right? Mm hmm. Well These three jobs don't make enough to pay for [00:24:00] gas and the apartment and the child care let alone groceries Yep, so she starts sliding back month after month after month Without some major support.

So how do we help without hurting? How do we? Empower her to move forward while filling in the gaps as she moves forward. You know, maybe some legislation too that helps our state system trick, trigger a lot down, right? Rather than just a cut off. But how, how does, how could the state also be helping to encourage that financial stability of, Okay, you're getting there.

Let's, let's encourage just a little bit more here and fill in the gaps and and then you're going to be able to be stable on 

Scott: your own. I was gonna say yeah, legislation and advocacy in situations like this to try and you know, because the vast majority of people like we said, that happens somewhere else.

Obviously, it doesn't happen here. Why would we need to do things to focus on? Fixing this here locally that happens in in other places. [00:25:00] Advocacy, helping to bring a light to these issues, especially locally. And then, like you said, the, the, the programs, the assistance, whether that's privately funded or government funded, in some way, shape, or form, in ways that, and I think I, I, I really like the way you said it, to help but not hinder to basically encourage the growth from these individuals.

Right. When you're trying to do it right, when you're trying to put in all the work and the effort, and it's trying to climb a slippery hill, like the, the, the rocks, the sand keeps kind of sliding out under your foot. Two steps forward, one step back, that one step back can be really frustrating as you attempt to do the right things to get yourself back up to where everybody else is.

Tricia: Right. And then that little voice you talked about too, right? See, you can't do it. See, you're not good enough. Yep. So we, we have to surround them with, Hey, you can do it. You are good enough. [00:26:00] You've got this and we're here with you. So let's 

Scott: talk about some of the other groups. Obviously Mirror Ministries is out here doing fantastic work helping people out.

You're not the only group in the Tri Cities even that does these type of things. What other resources are out there? Who do you guys work with to help 

Tricia: these people out? You know, it's a multi tiered thing out there, right? And we partner up with different agencies. The Tri Cities has gotten really good at agencies partnering together to be able to fit this whole spectrum.

So we work with Elijah Family Homes and their PCAPP program. We work with Grace Kitchen to help with some employment things. We work with Oxford Homes for, for temporary housing and sober housing. Union Gospel Mission for Shelter Beds, my friend's place for their youth shelter. They're the only youth shelter in the Tri Cities.

So it's the only place that we've got for our kiddos besides foster youth. The. We've got [00:27:00] housing housing authorities to get into further housing. We've got, of course, food banks, because yes, as we mentioned, gas has gone up, groceries have gone up rent has gone up, everything has skyrocketed and it makes it hard to meet those ends.

We have a mama trying to feed her teenage son on 90 a month. 

Scott: Oh goodness, that is I have a hard time feeding myself lunch. For a week on 90 a week. Yeah. Obviously that's going to be a big effort on their part to make. And you were once a teenage boy. Yeah. That, that I still eat like I 

Tricia: am a teenage boy.

So yeah, the, the spectrum for, there's so many I missed in there. I feel bad listing them by names and missing some of them. Columbia industry is also for work. Opportunity kitchen, various food banks and our new food store on Clearwater. Local churches have their outreach programs too that we can partner with.

So some of these, when, when we're low on groceries and stuff for people, they'll put out grocery cards or they. They maybe have a [00:28:00] pantry kitchen for them, help with gas cards for people or bus passes. Yeah, partnering with state agencies to, to make sure that we're helping to get the different things in there.

Scott: There's a big network of people focused on a lot of specific aspects of, of this much larger problem. Yeah. I know when you and I first talked, we also mentioned Sark and how they do a. I think you said it was more parallel to what it is that you guys do at Mirror Ministries. 

Tricia: So that we do a lot of the same and then both have some differences or strong points.

So SART does a lot more on the in the courtroom and also their, their kids haven is amazing to do the interviews and stuff with the children. So those are really big, big strengths for them is for sure. And they do all kinds of different crime victims. As well as their human trafficking piece.

We're much more isolated in the fact that we do just the sex trafficking [00:29:00] victims and survivors. But also we do it on a broader spectrum. We start with education for the community. Trying to prevent as much as possible. Then intervention to try and do as early of intervention as possible so that We don't have, you know, five, ten more years of trauma going on.

And then we bring them in for intensive case management that doesn't have a time frame to it. So, we will make sure that we are dogged in our determination to find them ways to help meet their steps and their goals that they make themselves. They're the ones, you know, in charge of their lives now, which is a little terrifying when it's been stripped from you for so long, but we're there with them.

And they're invited in for therapeutic services. So Sark also has a counselor on staff there. She's amazing. Ana Han. We've, we partner with different counselors. That was, we didn't get to the, the therapeutic and, and mental health pieces as well and, and drug rehab and all of that. For other partners counseling.

And then we [00:30:00] have like art therapy and music therapy and kickboxing and pie baking and jewelry making and whatever it is to have some fun while letting the brain do some healing. Okay. And some ways for the body to do that healing because the, the body holds the trauma too. So the, the kickboxing, the trauma informed movement classes You 

Scott: hear a lot of soldiers with PTSD finding a outlet for some of that in things like Brazilian jiu jitsu and kickboxing.

Yeah. that physical 

Tricia: outlet. Exactly. And equine therapy. So we get to do that. We get to partner with some with strides and trot. We've partnered with both for our, our in town clients. And then out at Esther's home, we've got our own horses out there and equine therapy out there. So that's equine is horses.

I guess they used to saying it. Not everybody knows, knows that terminology. Horses are really powerful in that healing process and helping us to identify. Our emotions. 

Scott: And you mentioned something there Esther's home, which is a mirror [00:31:00] Ministries facility. Tell us a bit 

Tricia: more about that. Yeah. It is a restoration home for minor girls that have been victims of sex trafficking.

It's out in North Franklin County and it is the first of its kind here in Washington State. We have a few places for adults to go and a restoration home. is, like what I mentioned, we get to do at our outreach center, all of those therapeutic services. We get to do that at a restoration home 24 7 in a cocoon like environment, right?

Where they're, they, they can feel safe. All of those basic needs are there and met and they can start to feel that safety. There's a difference in actual physical safety. And feeling safe, right? So they're gonna come out to this nice, safe place and they're not gonna necessarily feel safe right away 'cause they don't know us.

Yep. They don't know the rules, they don't know the what's going on. So it's still, and they've, they've come from this terrifying, terrifying life and death nonstop [00:32:00] environment. So it's gonna take a while for that safety. When we do it at the outreach center. They're learning and they're growing a lot, but they still have to go back out into the community as soon as they leave our class, right?

And there's all these triggers and things. So it takes longer to build that sense of safety. You don't 

Scott: have as much time to focus on the one aspect that you're working on. If you're going to a class, you've got an hour, two hours in the class to focus on that. And then once you leave, you're back to shelter, food those type of aspects.

Whereas in this cocooned environment, you have those covered for a much longer period of time. And you can actually unwind and unwind feels like it might be too loose of a word when we say that, but to focus 

Tricia: on that, yeah, start to find it and feel safety understand that you now have the choice, the consent and the control for your life, even though it's in this, you know, controlled environment because it is for minors.

So we do have rules that, that have to be in place to keep everybody safe [00:33:00] and, and healthy and wise. But it's a beautiful 20 acres with horses and hopefully they'll be able to maybe raise some service pups or something like that too. Lots of garden space room for a learning center and there's a gym.

So they've got a lot of ability to be active and just, All kinds of, you know, books for a little library in their games, arts and craft stuff, whatever it might be that's their interest. If they love playing basketball or if they love doing diamond art, whatever it might be. 

Scott: Alright, and that was a big fundraising effort for you guys to get that up and off the ground in this last year, wasn't it?

Tricia: Well, it was a 4 million capital campaign. We started right at covid. So, you know, why not? And yet our and that was in addition to our ongoing operating funds that 4 million not only bought and renovated the property, but also is a three year operating cost for estrus home. So we [00:34:00] wanted to make sure that once we got it open, we weren't just Now frantic looking for the funds to keep it open.


Scott: gonna say that would be a pretty tragic situation to open it up, get some people in there, get that feeling of safety and then be like, Oh, now we've got to close. We would be another another point of trauma for those individuals. 

Tricia: Right? Never want that to happen to the people we're serving, but also even to the donors that have been part of this right and the volunteers that have poured their heart and blood and sweat and tears.

Not too much blood. Blood, sweat and tears into there. We want to make sure that this goes on long beyond us, that there's always this home ready for these girls. A good lasting legacy. Yeah. 

Scott: Now, one of the things that I'm seeing here on, on, on our last item, and I believe that you mentioned this early on in our, in our conversation is the program enrollments by year.

Yeah. I feel like this is kind of a double edged sword that I'm seeing on here. One, it's [00:35:00] great that these people are reaching out that they are and that you are able to get them enrolled. But it's also kind of a bad idea or shouldn't say a bad idea, a bad feeling to see that it doubled over the last year.

Obviously, it's great that you're able to help more people. I mean, we don't want to see that number stay the same if the problem is increasing, but we also don't want to see the problem increasing. Right. How, how do you personally rectify working in a situation that feels maybe sometimes like it's an uphill battle?

Tricia: Right. And I might even say an upstream or downstream battle. Okay. You think of, there's an old story about, you know, these Folks walking through the woods and see a baby floating down the river jump in grab the baby There's another baby grab the baby out another baby and the third person goes just takes off and goes up river and they're like, what are you doing?

You need to help us get these babies. And so I'm going to go up river and find out who's throwing these babies in the river. So, you [00:36:00] know, we are at the by choice or by, you know, we, we believe by direction of where the Lord has put us, we are mostly at the, get the babies out of the river and take care of the babies.

Deal with the problem that is right in front. And then we're trying to give training and awareness to help others. make sure people aren't throwing the babies in the river. Okay. We're trying to get that train. That's the education and awareness intervention piece, right? Let's try to get them to stop throwing babies in the river.

But we know that they're still throwing them in there. So we're gonna, we're gonna try and equip and train as many people to, to help prevent it. And then we're going to be there to catch them and do the restoration 

Scott: piece. Gonna say, yeah, like we mentioned previously, it's a multi pronged. event that's happening, so deal with the traumas that you can deal with, that you can assist with, get those people back up on their feet again, get the babies out of the river as well as get to the, to the source of the problem and see if there is a way to quell the [00:37:00] tide to, to do that.

So seeing those numbers rise. is, again, kind of that double edged sword, you're doing more work, you're helping more people out, which is fantastic. 

Tricia: And some of it is rising because people are more aware. We're getting more awareness out there, so more people are able to so some of it is rising because more is happening, right?

The more that we keep over sexualizing things in our society the more that we say it's okay to purchase people. Hopefully nobody says that meaningfully out loud, but somehow that's what our society is promoting, that it is okay. The more we're over sexualizing our children, all of those things just lead and pour into this even more.

The more we isolate ourselves and become dependent on on screen relationships that also brings in. Because it can lead to more troubles 

Scott: and problems. I was going to say it is kind of another thing that, that we had chatted about before. And I [00:38:00] think we were, we were almost there to talk about it earlier in this podcast, was the online aspect of those relationships.

How often are we checking in on people and who they're talking with? When we first chatted you had brought up an interesting analogy of if I was some random guy that walked up to your house and said, Hey, do you mind if I go play video games with your son? You would probably look at this weird dude that just came up to the front door completely unannounced and be like no, no, that.

Don't but at the same time, when they're playing a game that is online with open mic, that's basically what they're doing. They're having these conversations. 

Tricia: Somebody is talking to your little boy right there next to you in the living room and you don't know that. Mm hmm. Yeah. 

Scott: So what type of interactions could parents or friends be having with people to kind of pick and pick those pieces out to help identify these situations?

This is [00:39:00] part of our. early intervention to help release a little bit of this so that people are just like, Hey, you know, that person that's asking for a thousand dollars in gift cards isn't actually needing that to fix their car. Gift cards aren't going to help them there. How do we, how do we see those and what should people be doing to kind of cut that off 

Tricia: early?

Yeah. Educate our kids, educate ourselves. We need to empower our kids, but also their kids. So we can't. Expect them to, we need to make sure we give them grace and easy out. Sometimes people do a, almost like a monopoly, get out of jail free card that if their kid needs to come talk to them and they, they're afraid mom and dad are going to get upset because they did something bad.

They can hand them that first mom and dad can take a moment, take a deep breath and realize, you know, don't overreact here. But there are also a lot of good online trainings, even online. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has some NetSmartz Trafficking, or NetSmartz Training that teaches about online safety.[00:40:00] 

Okay. But practical things are, your, your little boy's got headphones on while he's playing those games, right? Take the headphones off. Play the games together. Not only that, you're all gonna either have a lot more fun together that way, or you're all gonna get really irritated with that, and you're gonna go outside and play instead.

So one way or the other, it's a win, but you know who's talking to your kid, rather than them just being in there. Yeah, it's gonna be more annoying hearing all of those sounds going, but it's better to be annoyed by those sounds than having somebody And be aware. Yeah. The other analogy I give there is, is that same guy you've never met before, 9 o'clock at night, knocks on the door, says, Can I go in and sit and talk with your daughter in her bedroom for a while?

We're just gonna talk. No. Well, okay, but you know what, you've invited him in through all of the electronics that are in her room. So she's got her phone, her iPad, whatever it is in her room at night, and she's talking to people online. She may or may not even know who they are. She believes she does, but I don't know if you can see me, but I could [00:41:00] tell you that I am a six foot two Japanese basketball star.

Maybe I said seven foot two before, I don't know. I could tell you anything. And I could give you AI, I could give you AI images of me and all kinds of things. You, you don't know who I actually am, but our kids believe they do. Our kids have a different understanding of stranger than we do. So when we say don't talk to strangers online, they say, well I, he's not a stranger.

I've been talking to him for, and I've told him my deepest, darkest secrets. Of course. 

Scott: Right? This is now 

Tricia: a confidant. Yeah. But these kids at school, they're strangers because I, I don't really talk to them much. So we have to understand that different terminology as well. So take the kids devices and plant them in the parents rooms at night to be charged.

Okay. Right? Nine o'clock at night, eight o'clock at night, whatever, they all go into the basket, get charged up. And then they are reassigned as needed in the daytime. Just have open conversations, help our kids learn. On [00:42:00] Mirror Ministries website, there's one called, there's an education piece called Not a Product.

You can talk to your young kids about tricky people. And what tricky people might say or do. And then there's safe people in there. Or family. So have them pinpoint a safe person in their family, a pinpoint a safe person in their school, pinpoint a safe person in their community, people that they feel like they could go talk to.

If somebody was being tricky with them, our curriculum uses Disney movie clips, so it's non intimidating. We're not talking about sex. We're not talking about. people kidnapping you. We're talking about some of those grooming things that happened. 

Scott: So one of the things that I'm definitely going to make sure that we do after this is I'm going to create a blog post that we're going to put up on the dollars and cents blog.

And it's going to have a number of different resource links to it. We will link back out to the mirror ministries website so that you guys can go find that program. And use it if you need to, or if you want to along with a bunch of these other [00:43:00] resources that we've got that talk about this topic it is or at least can very much be a difficult topic to, to talk about maybe some aspects that you don't want to bring up with your young children, but at the same time, you might want to bring them up just in different ways, kind of how we've avoided.

A lot of the gruesome details or explicit type of conversation. You can have these chats with your children and make them aware that these type of things are to be avoided, how to look for those things. So we'll definitely make sure to get a list of resources up there that people can utilize.

Phone numbers, websites that they can check out. Before we sign off for today what else do you have any closing thoughts for us? Any other, any other final comments that you want to make topics that you would like to cover? 

Tricia: Well, from what you just said on the kids, kind of wrapping that up, making sure that they understand they're a child, so they're never the one at fault.

[00:44:00] So if, if something does happen to them, that they have the freedom to come to mom or dad or whoever those trusted people are. Yeah. And that we will promise to do our best to respond calmly. And, you know, not threaten to take everything away 

Scott: from you. You're not in trouble for the thing that you did.

You'd be more in trouble if you hid that and weren't open and honest about it. Something along those lines. 

Tricia: Or, more trouble comes to you because of that. One way or the other, you're not in trouble. You're not the one at fault. You're a child, and the person who's exploiting you is the one who's, who's in trouble.

Yeah, coming to 

Scott: us sooner rather than later is how we work through this. 

Tricia: So how, how should you respond when you see, because it's not a matter of If your child is going to come across hardcore pornography, it's not a matter of if your child is going to come across some stranger talking to them online.

They will. It's a matter of when. And it's a matter of how will they respond. So you can teach and train. There's a Book called good pictures bad pictures for younger children just [00:45:00] helps to understand if you know something like that crosses across your screen They talk about looking away. It helps the brain to actually Readjust and not hold that picture in look away and say that's a bad picture Then you go tell mom and dad If somebody's sending your your kids stuff online or on their phones, whatever don't delete it It's your first response right is delete because you want to be able to show that to law enforcement in case they're able to follow through and do something 

Scott: on it.

That's an interesting tip because again, like you said, first instinct, let me get this off of this device here. Yeah. 

Tricia: But close it, get it out do, do take it away from your child for that time being, but also reassure them that this, it's not a punishment that it's being taken away from them. But that, that we want to protect them and other children.

And then, you know, let them know that. They will get a device back at some point and that, that you're proud of them from coming, for coming forward and showing that they did the, they did the right thing and that was difficult and they know that even if they've already maybe sent a picture or something, they did the right thing by coming to [00:46:00] you when they did.

When you look at the number of sexual assaults and stuff that are not reported in our nation on a daily basis there's a reason people don't come forward, right? So there's a lot of reasons people don't come forward. So when somebody does come forward, let's applaud them. Make sure that they don't feel bad.

They don't feel judged. Tri Cities is an amazing community. Yes, we have some bad people exploiting others. But we have a lot of really good people. So just step forward. Do you know things now? Make sure you have your eyes open. If you see something, say something. Don't let this Burden your heart, but do something about it.

So whether it's, you know, following agencies online and sharing information and education, what all after I just talked about all the online stuff, right? You can use online for good things as well. Of course. Help with different agencies that are doing things anywhere from keeping the babies from out of the river, work with foster youth mentor youth.

Do different things to make sure that those kids aren't getting put into, you know, have more of a safety net around them.[00:47:00] Don't be so quick to judge that drug addict out on the street corner. Something really bad has happened to them in their life and drugs are not easy to get off of. So as a community, just start loving on people a little bit more.

Start putting our phones down more often and looking at the people around us and Yeah. All right. We can make a difference. So 

Scott: again for situations like this, if you have time, if you have money, if you have the motivation and the movement in your heart to reach out and help out these many different groups that we have locally do so fine.

Find the time to volunteer, find the time or, or the money, set something aside to donate, to help with this situation. Yeah. And I think that that everybody can can put a little bit into this to hand and everybody putting in a little bit will have everything go a long way, right? Once again, everybody, thank you very much.

Tricia has been absolute pleasure talking with you about this. I can tell that you are 100 percent passionate and driven on [00:48:00] this topic. Thank you for sharing this. We'll get that that blog post up with all of those resource links where people can contact Mirror Ministries, along with probably a couple other fantastic local resources.

And once again, this has been an episode of Dollars and Cents, Hapo Community Credit Union's financial literacy podcast. Until next time.