President Chris asked PDG Cozette Vergari to come forward and introduce the Speaker of the Day. In a very somber introduction of Jenna Bruce, Cozette related how Jenna has been a victim of Human Trafficking, Cozette pointed out that Jenna is a very courageous women, having gone through the evils of Trafficking and has now opened herself up in the recovery process by speaking to various Rotary clubs and organizations. A very brave woman, indeed!
Jenna began her story by telling how she became involved with an on-line meeting of a man named Henry who was in the US Navy. As she was only 11 years old, she was very susceptible to his caring advances and persuasion to use minor drugs. Eventually Henry after release from the Navy came home and then, turned Jenna on to the use of morphine and heroin. Jenna told of how human traffickers prey upon the young and vulnerable by supplying them with drugs and, then blackmailing and coercing them into providing services or engage in commercial sex acts with numerous individuals. In Jenna’s case, he threatened to kill her parents if she told anyone.
Throughout her experience from age 11 until 14, she described her involvement in attending parties, use of drugs, and a feeling of “numbness” as to what was happening to her during this period. Eventually, on a specific occasion, she was sick and threw-up in a bathroom. It was then her parents checked her into a hospital. This, she realized, was her chance to escape the victimhood of human trafficking.
Jenna related some statistics about human trafficking, experiences with police and lack of police protection and follow up. All in all, Jenna was one of the most compelling speakers to address our Club. She is obviously a very bright lady, furthering her education, and using a non-profit to advise others to avoid those individuals who prey on the young to enlist in human trafficking. There is so much more to her story then we can cover here. Trafficking is a huge billion-dollar enterprise that needs everyone of us to get involved to get it stopped.
PDG Cozette reappeared at the podium to help field questions posed to Jenna. She described the situation in Los Angeles, which is unfortunately, one of the top ten cities in the U.S. where human trafficking is rampant. Tougher laws and penalties are needed, she emphasized, and we all agreed. Thank you, Jenna Bruce, for sharing your story.
Thank you to PDG Cozette Vergari, PDG Guity Javid, Judy and JoAnn from the Westchester Rotary Club, Kathy Kearin a guest of Tom and Margot (who also attended) Barron, Susan Fisher and, Rose Gaynor for attending along with, Sean McMillan and, Jenna’s significant other.
Shout out to PP Mike Newman for reciting the four-way test without stumbling, Sherrod Hansen for leading the pledge, VP Benjamin Fisher for his Thought of the Day and, PP Ed Gauld for donning his Gene Kelly hat and umbrella for “Singing in the Rain.”