A Little of This, a Little of That…but Never Whatever

by ZontaDoris

I wanted to learn to make things that tasted good. So I asked for and received precise instruction from talented cooks in my family. (Yeah…right!) The reality is that I picked up tips from incredible culinary artists close to me, however, they were seldom exact. It was mainly “put in a little of this, a little of that.” That mixing formula has worked pretty well for me in life. So it is this week with the blog post–we’ll report on a little of this, a little of that…and hope it works to inform and intrigue.

Human Trafficking Meeting on March 20

Donna Lancaster and I went to the “Salon Talk” workshop arranged by staff at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and hosted at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center. The purpose of the meeting was to help salon and barbershop workers recognize potential human trafficking victims and learn how to build rapport with them without endangering themselves or the victim.

Bethany Gilot, Director, DJJ Human Trafficking Initiative, Tallahassee
Bethany Gilot, Director, DJJ Human Trafficking Initiative, Tallahassee

Attendees were coached on how to follow their intuition when a situation doesn’t seem right. Maybe the older person with the potential victim is very controlling. Or he/she (because the pimp can be a woman) is taking multiple calls on a cellphone and/or displaying expensive jewelry and tattoos. A concerned cosmetologist might ask a couple casual questions (“Oh, you have your dad, your uncle, your aunt…with you today?”), gather contact information (“Hey, what’s your phone #? My manager pushes us to get customer numbers…we are running a special next month–could save you a lot of money…”), or discreetly look outside to see the car model, color, and license plate as the customers leave. Salon workers are well situated to see sex trafficking victims because victims need regular cosmetic touch-ups to please their pimp and paying customers.

Bethany Gilot, Director of Human Trafficking at DJJ in Tallahassee, overviewed human trafficking, giving risk factors for exploitation starting with poverty, runaway and neglected youth, and those who might be homeless and suffer from other lacks–too little education, family support, and work opportunities. A wonderful panel of local anti-human trafficking practitioners from legal aid, St. Petersburg police legal advisor Sasha Lohn (featured here with Donna), and service providers, led by Dottie Groover-Skipper, also spoke to the group of about 80

Sasha Lohn, Legal Advisor, St. Petersburg Police, and Donna Lancaster
Sasha Lohn, Legal Advisor, St. Petersburg Police, and Donna Lancaster

folks. Sasha encouraged folks to use the Department’s Facebook page to make anonymous reports & see profiles of missing children, or call 411 to share tips anonymously on worrisome situations.

Domestic Violence Task Force on March 21

Zonta is in the house!

I am joining Donna at bi-monthly Pinellas County DVTF meetings to show that Zonta cares and wants to help DV survivors. We are getting involved in more activities such as the Advocacy Committee for me. Sherry Clester, Advocacy Committee Chair, is a remarkable advocate for elder victims of domestic violence and continues to lead initiatives for the DVTF. They are starting a bi-annual newsletter modeled after one in JAX for the Tampa Bay area-wide domestic violence community.

Donna, and our own Sandy Bricker, I was told, are helping the DVTF Primary Prevention Committee members do “Your Peaceful Place” discussions in the community and schools.

Bobbie Hodson, DVTF Chair, and Frieda Widera, long-time DVTF leader, welcome us as partner-advocates at every meeting. I asked several questions at the last meeting that they warmly responded to. One inquiry led to the TF Chair drafting a letter to the editor of the Tampa Bay Times to remark on the recent Alisa Summers case. (I have read the draft and suggested edits.) Readers may recall that Summers was denied a protective order last Fall, only to be further abused and finally kidnapped by her estranged husband early in March. I like the open-mindedness of the TF members to pursue all avenues to educate and engage the community on behalf of DV victims and survivors.

CASA_Onsite_Pet_Sheltering_Cover_2017-03-23_1724The Word is Out

Donna, Paulette, and I joined the CASA Pet Shelter Committee on March 1. Since then we assisted the Committee by gathering information on how domestic violence centers in Florida are doing onsite pet sheltering. We spoke to terrific advocates around the state, all of them eager to help us and CASA enable DV victims to leave home sooner with their pets, rather than later.

The good news is that we quickly became very knowledgeable about pet sheltering onsite and are eager to advise the Committee on how to move forward. We want to decide new forms and protocols for CASA to get its pet shelter admitting canine and feline clients, and maybe other pet species, too.

Local People of Interest to Zonta

I admit it. I read junk magazines at the grocery check-out line. But I seldom buy any… except this time as I was riffling through the magazine, I saw “Violence Victim Marries Her First Responder.” Could it be? Yes, it was, Melissa Dohme, that is, marrying Cameron Hill earlier this month. You can get more information on the romance in numerous places online including “People” magazine. Melissa if you’ll recall was the headliner at East Lake High School for Zonta and the Haven in December.

Finally, Let’s Show What Women Do Routinely So Well

Have you all seen the video of the man who was an expert on North Korea being interviewed by the BBC when his two children padded into the room?  It is hilarious and has prompted a remake featuring a woman below. See how she handles not just one but many interruptions.

In closing, it’s been a little of this, a little of that, hope this blog post delivers on its promise to inform and intrigue and never defaults to whatever–the most annoying word in 2016 according to a NPR report.  The default use of “whatever” irritates me. What nettles me more is its meaning: indifference. Thankfully, Zonta members are not indifferent to empowering women, never have been, never will be!

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Featured image of spices in spoons from Pixabay

Views expressed in this blog post are mine and may not reflect the stance of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County or Zonta International. — Doris Reeves-Lipscomb