(Originally published in the March 26th Exposure Magazine.)
What does a young single mom who was raising her son alone do when she struggles to find resources to connect to? She creates her own Not-for Profit faith-based organization called Tigerlili Resources. She felt an overwhelming push from God to create this entity to help women succeed when they felt most vulnerable and alone. Tigerlili Resources originated in Florida and has continued to grow in its outreach and various ministries. What started as a simple organization to empower single moms in the St. Louis Area, like it had in Florida- has become so much more. While they are still very involved in connecting moms to services, clothes, and coaching for job interviews, etc., another mission became important. Through connecting with law enforcement agencies and social services, Meredith became aware of the need for aid in helping young women out of the sex trafficking trade (Yes- it is not just somewhere else- it is in your city, too). The Tigerlili Resources outreach program The Scarlet Line- The Road to Redemption was formed from this need. You can watch Meredith tell her story of “Invisible Amy”, and how powerful this motivator was in the creation of the House of Rehab, and even why this became an important outreach for Tigerlili Resources. She is actively working to fund raise for The House of Rahab to come to fruition. A Black-Tie Gala ball is scheduled for May 11th in St Louis. Meredith, true to form, has become a warrior fighting to save every girl that finds herself in this position. One might not understand how this happens. I was shocked to learn just how easy it is for these young girls to fall prey to this type of victimization. Most have no money, limited family involvement, they struggle in school, and don’t have many people paying close attention to their behavior and movements. These girls are easy prey for the traffickers because they are often lured in slowly, given gifts, shoes, clothes, makeup, and jewelry they couldn’t otherwise afford. Meredith works closely with the law enforcement and is often called down to intercede when these girls are arrested or found cowering in a closet or hiding somewhere. Part of the difficulty in working with these young women is that the pull of having all the things that make her feel special often override rational judgement. Differentiating right or wrong becomes distorted. Purchasing a prostitute that is 15-17 years old is only a class A misdemeanor. The penalty doesn’t match the crime. Fortunately, Meredith doesn’t discriminate in the helping. Her heart is so big. She is also working on a 12-step rehabilitative sex addiction program for the people who are soliciting the girls. This is a full-service program designed to end trafficking and for those who solicit. For more information please go to www.tigerliliresources.org and click on the Scarlet Line tab. If you wish to further this mission please visit http://www.tigerlilipb.org/give-now.html. You will not find a more compassionate child of God than Meredith Seithel Mittlestadt, who literally puts her faith in action every single day!
Proverbs 3:27: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
Today, especially in the United States, we are so richly blessed. Most of us don’t wonder whether we will have water, food, heat, lights, etc. We take it for granted those luxuries are there. Yes, they are luxuries. Many people around the world don’t have any of these things regularly. They often must humble themselves to receive these things from the kindness of strangers. When was the last time you were that stranger? What have you given lately to help someone in need? Not because you wanted to look good, but simply because God has blessed you with more than you need and likely more than you deserve. Simply look in the mirror and ask if you have been a good steward of your blessings. The fabulous fact is that if your answer is no, you can change that with your next breath. There are people all around you in need. Some will simply need a kind word or a smile. These cost nothing but a little effort. Some will need clothes or shelter, and if you have more than you can use, share. Some will need the fast food you just bought or the overflowing freezer you have. This article was inspired by a friend who has been struggling with so much difficulty in her life. She has shown courage, compassion and kindness to so many that she deserves to be reached out to. In our conversation, she was thanking me for helping her family and I simply said that I would rather die broke than broken. Helping others helps you. It heals you and builds you. It’s a two-way blessing. I ask you to stop for a minute and ponder when the last time was that you responded to someone out of compassion and kindness by helping with whatever ability you have. It isn’t difficult, or time consuming, or expensive to simply be kind. If you need a new pair of gloves, buy two and drop one at the nearest homeless shelter or give it to someone who lives on the street you go by every day on the way to work. People NEED people. Sometimes all they need is to know someone cares, or listens. If you aren’t doing these things, I assure you that you are likely broken. So, “If you had to choose, would you rather be broke, or broken?”
These are my older blog posts, which originally appeared in my Exposure Magazine Column, "Healthy Living."