In front, from left, are Megan Malewitz, Holland; Stephanie Stewart, Muskegon; Nichole Marshall, Grand Haven; Jeff Martineau, The Hope Project executive director; Amy Barba, West Olive; Danielle Woodring, Twin Lake; and Breanna Fylstra, Zeeland. In the back row are Alyssa Neumeyer, Muskegon; Lee Coggin, J.D., Baker College of Muskegon president; Rodney Savage, Muskegon; Julia Koch, The Hope Project director of development and advocacy; Linda Meyers, Baker College Rotaract Club advisor; Sara Karnes, The Hope Project director of communications; and Luisa Yonker and Colin Yonker, Muskegon.
Club members not pictured are Rebeca Barber, Allegan; Eric Syrba, Byron Center; Francisco Perez Loredo, Grand Rapids; and Alanna Grahm, Syracuse, Ind. (Photo provided)

Alanna Graham, of Syracuse, is a student in the Rotaract Club at Baker College of Muskegon, Mich., who dedicated her fundraising efforts for the 2013-2014 school year to The Hope Project, a not-for-profit organization that raises awareness of human trafficking and helps victims transition to a normal life.

The club’s $7,000 donation will help The Hope Project to open a safe home in Muskegon, Hope Village. This will allow victims from Muskegon to locally begin or continue their recovery to a healthy, normal life.

It is a common misconception that human trafficking isn’t a U.S. problem; that it’s limited to foreign countries. However, Michigan is a source, transit and destination for trafficking. In response, members of the Baker College of Muskegon Rotaract Club worked throughout the 2013-2014 school year to raise $7,000 to help address this critical human rights issue.

Their donation went to The Hope Project and helps victims transition to a normal life. The Hope Project, based in Muskegon, currently works with 12 survivors of sex trafficking.

The Baker College student club is co-sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Muskegon and Montague-Whitehall.

The donation will help The Hope Project open Hope Village, a safe home in Muskegon for victims to locally begin or continue their journey of healing from the horrific trauma of being repeatedly sexually abused for profit.

The Baker College students raised the $7,000 by devoting a collective 160 volunteer hours to organizing and holding fundraisers on campus and hosting a fundraiser each at The Station Grill, Applebee’s and Five Below.

“Baker College Rotaract Club members have displayed incredible enthusiasm and dedication,” said Julia Koch, director of development and advocacy at The Hope Project. “Members raised a significant amount of money to fight human trafficking, and just as importantly, spread an indefinite amount of awareness of the issue. We cannot say thank you enough.”

Koch said that Hope Village will provide a loving environment with comprehensive services including counseling, education, case management and life skills instruction to girls, ages 11 to 18.

Raising money for The Hope Project was one of the many accomplishments Rotaract Club members achieved this past school year. In fact, the club received a citation from the president of Rotary International for its extraordinary work – a notable accomplishment for a club in its second year of existence.

For information about the Baker College of Muskegon Rotaract Club, visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RotaractBakerCollege or contact Linda Meyers at Linda.Meyers@baker.edu or 231.777.5288.

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