Two North Shelby sophomores' work to combat human trafficking has been making a difference thousands of miles from home. Lainie Chandler received the U.S. Cellular "The Future of Good: 16 Under 16" $10,000 award in March, donating the monetary gift to the Rapha House international organization headquartered in Joplin.
Jenna Harrison, awareness director with Rapha House, said that Chandler and her friend, Lainey Treasure, have been on a journey for more than a year to fight human trafficking and raise awareness throughout the state. Chandler and Treasure were recognized during a school assembly March 26. The two friends have contacted legislators in efforts to enact a bill requiring posters about human trafficking to be displayed in high schools. Chandler and Treasure were inspired to address the issue during church camp three years ago, and the donation to Rapha House helps the organization provide services to more girls in safe houses located in Cambodia, Thailand and Haiti.
Harrison is excited for her to see the work the girls have done so far. "It's really neat and interesting to witness their journey," she said.
Chandler and Treasure wanted to give the gift that would make the greatest difference. Harrison told them the general revenue fund directly supports maintenance work and services for staff members like educators, health care providers, cooks and groundskeepers at each of the four safe houses. The donation continues to help the organization find new resources and provide care and support to more girls, Harrison said.
Chandler and Treasure provided Harrison with an inspiration — making a difference far beyond their own area — that she can talk about with the students she visits.
"We believe in people, and we believe that we can't do it without their help," she said. "It's really, really fun to encourage young people, to let them know that they can make a change and they can make a difference."
Harrison joked that she "didn't have to nudge them very hard" to make a difference for Rapha House. "They jumped in and they wanted to make a difference," she said. "It's inspiring for me.
"It's been really awesome to watch their journey and just how much impact they've made in their small town, but also in Rapha House, and in our communities together," she said.
For more information about Rapha House's international programs or to give a donation, visit raphahouse.org.