The Visalia Young Professionals Network provides the next generation of professional Visalians with lasting connections and new opportunities.
YPN Spotlight:

Local Visalia Young Professionals Awarded Grant to Tell the Story of Sex Trafficking in Tulare County

Film premier is on October 19 th at the Tower Theatre in Fresno

The Big Tell 2018 is a regional filmmaking contest that offers grants for the production of five-minute mini-documentaries that feature stories from the Central Valley. The contest is held by the Central Valley Community Foundation of Fresno, and presented by Bank of America. The stories they chose are authentic, non-fiction stories from the Central Valley, and they demonstrate triumph, redemption, perseverance, innovation, community, and hope.

Ten documentary proposals were chosen from over 75 applications submitted from filmmakers across California. Visalians Zach Green (Zach Green Films) and Shelley Ellis applied with the idea of bringing more awareness to the issue of sex trafficking in Tulare County and were among the ten selected for a grant. Zach and Shelley aim to produce a documentary that shows how serious and how prevalent the issue of sex trafficking is. 

The idea to cover this issue came from a “day session” topic, during the 2017-2018 Leadership Visalia Program. Shelley, a participant in the program, was asked to coordinate an educational day for her classmates, focused on social and legal services. The most striking issue that she found when reaching out to community leaders was human trafficking. Shelley decided to focus her entire day session on human trafficking. Presenters from the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, the Visalia Police Department and Family Services of Tulare County came to speak to the Leadership Visalia class. This was the when Zach, also in the leadership class, began to understand the widespread nature of the problem. When The Big Tell grant opportunity came around later that month, Zach and Shelley were inspired to apply to create a film on sex trafficking.

Since production began, they’ve interviewed Visalia Police Department officers, District Attorney Tim Ward, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and his officers, and a representative from Family Services. The final cut of the film is due October 8 th and they’re editing footage at this point to meet the 5 minute criteria. A further hope is that this footage will be used in ongoing presentations to help educate individuals on the facts of sex trafficking and how to combat it.

Says filmmaker, Zach Green, “Winning this grant is a milestone for me. I’ve been working in videography, creating documentary style promos for several years now. This is an opportunity to make a short documentary, on a subject that we’ve chosen, and one that could have an impact on our community.”

Says Shelley, “As a mother, this issue concerns me greatly, and it’s important that our children know how loved they are. Be engaged and ask your children questions; know who they are talking to on the internet. It’s our hope that this project will inspire the community to come together and help in the fight against trafficking.”

These ten films from the Central Valley will premiere on October 19 th at 7:00pm at the Big Tell Showcase at the Tower Theatre in Fresno. For more information about the Big Tell showcase or to purchase tickets go to or .

To follow the film project visit their Instagram page @traffickingfilmtc. 
Thursday, October 11th
5:30 pm
Barrelhouse Brewing Co.
YPN Fall Networking Event :
Thursday, November 8th
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Rocky Hill Brewing
20147 Ave 306, Exeter, CA 93221

More details to come
YPN Featured Non-Profit... Read for Life

Read for Life is a family-based literacy program that encourages parents to provide the foundation for reading beginning at birth. The non-profit, all-volunteer organization is committed to breaking the cycle of illiteracy through early intervention, direct service projects and community awareness through four core programs.

  • Teenage Parenting and Head Start Programs—teaching young parents the importance of reading with their babies 
  • Books for Babies—reaching out to young parents of new babies through prenatal programs and at hospitals
  • Books for Kids—supplying children in after-school programs, at Family Health Care Network medical and dental clinics throughout Tulare County, and reaching foster children and families touched by CASA. 
  • Preschool Programs—serving preschools, many of which include migrant children learning English and those with special needs, with take-home bilingual books for each child during the school year.

Read for Life was started in 1989 by five local women and it has evolved over the last 29 years into a highly effective volunteer-led organization whose target audience is the thousands of economically challenged parents and children in Tulare County. Many of these children from ages birth to 5 years have never owned a book. Many of their parents were never read to as children, so they need instruction about the importance of making time to read together daily, and to start that reading when their children are still babies to help them succeed in school.

2. What are some things you are doing in our community?
Read for Life has grown into a highly respected and effective volunteer-led organization by serving thousands of Tulare County’s young parents, babies, toddlers, and elementary-age children every year with take-home books in a variety of convenient local venues: Hospital prenatal programs and school-based Teenage Parenting Programs; all 20 Head Starts plus other pre-school programs throughout Tulare County; all 14+ Family Health Care Network (FHCN) clinic waiting areas across the County, and over 40 locations countywide from after-school programs to family crisis centers.

Last year alone, Read for Life distributed over 20,000 books. Progress is made every day in reaching young children and their parents, but much remains to be done to ensure that all Tulare County children are reading on grade level by third grade, and that all parents see themselves in the important role of their child’s first teacher. 

3. What specific asks do you have of young professionals?
  • A Communications-Marketing plan for Read for Life includes a social media presence, a redesigned website, annual newsletters and quarterly e-updates, and an active speaker’s bureau. Input, feedback and suggestions for reaching the young professional market are welcome and encouraged.
  • The all-volunteer board oversees the four core programs, fund-raising activities, book drives, public relations efforts, and all activities associated with Read for Life. Membership to the board is encouraged, and requests for consideration are reviewed by the board at its monthly meeting.
  • Donations to Read for Life are designed to meet all needs. Gently used and new children’s books can be donated at any one of Read for Life’s drop off boxes. Individuals can include Read for Life in their estate planning. Financial contributions are appreciated and can be made through a variety of venues – Pay Pals, or direct contributions through the annual newsletter or by participating in Read for Life fund-raisers.
  • Volunteer opportunities are available by submitting forms from the Read for Life website at
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Did You Know ...

  • A 5,000 SF warehouse is proposed at the southwest corner of Freedom St. and Nicholas Ave.

  • Moose Dog Brewing is poposing to expand at 9626 W. Nicholas Ave with the potential of adding a tap room.

  • The Visalia City Council voted to support proposition e, the "Water Supply and Water Quality Act of 2018".

  • The City will showcased their first Battery Electric Buss (BEB) at the September 4th City Council Meeting.

  • The final phase of the Houston Ave paving is now complete and is open to traffic.
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