(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!
(Originally Published in Exposure Magazine February 27, 2018).
Experiences shape who you are, but they don’t dictate who you become.
Imagine being 15 years old and giving birth. Your world has turned upside down. Myesha Collins found herself in this position and had to make hard choices. Incredibly, she stayed in school, parented, and graduated high school right on schedule. Even after moving with her parents to a new state where everything was new, she pressed on. After high school, she enlisted in the military, and found herself in a situation where she was sexually assaulted. The incident was essentially brushed aside. The inner turmoil that resulted and began to manifest wasn’t pretty. Myesha became very wary and introverted over time. She went into therapy after leaving the military, and with the help of a spiritual advisor, was able to sort through some of the emotional trauma that came from the physical assault. She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from sexual trauma. Ironically, Myesha seem to draw other wounded women to her, who she truly enjoyed helping, but she was still stuck herself. She started to heal as she shared more of her own personal story and journey with others. From pain came great personal growth. She became very passionate about helping other women stand in their personal power by being more transparent. From this space, Blue Girls Turned Gold was born. She founded this Not for Profit to empower women. Her mission became to share her story to help other women move from the place of feeling less than and broken-Blue, to a place of personal power, strength and courage- Gold. Myesha Collins could have been a statistic. Instead, she rose up from her challenges and has become an advocate for women. Helping them to feel strong, empowered, and to have a voice is just part of her mission. You can read about her journey in a collaborative effort co-authored with Andrea A. Moore. The book is entitled Blue Girl Turned Gold and can be found on Amazon. Myesha Collins is a strong, capable, and resilient young woman with so many things to accomplish yet in this world. To learn more about how you can support Blue Girls Turned Gold or volunteer or donate please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the community on her Facebook page, @Bluegirlsturnedgoldtm.
These are my older blog posts, which originally appeared in my Exposure Magazine Column, "Healthy Living."