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Drive-thru dinner helps human trafficking fight
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A drive-thru dinner fund-raiser is being held at Precision Automotive on Moffat Boulevard on Thursday, June 27, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to support the non-profit organization, Without Permission.

It is being organized by Shelley Kohl, a volunteer for the organization. The purpose of this effort is to “combat human trafficking in our community…. This is a local problem, not just across the globe,” Kohl said.

Specifically, Without Permission is focused on providing outreach services to victims of sex trafficking, explained Debbie Johnson, founder and CEO of the Modesto based grassroots organization.

“Sex trafficking has been going on for years and years and Without Permission hopes to eradicate this type of human trafficking in the valley and in the local community. This is a faith-based organization, a ministry,” said Johnson, a former church minister in Modesto who decided to focus her full-time ministry on this project.

“We don’t make rescues,” she said, emphasizing what her group aims to accomplish. “We do survivor support, we do justice projects, as well as prevention and education.”

Volunteers help “victims in crisis” by helping them “navigate restoration areas,” the phrase Johnson uses to refer to the needs of victims such as housing, medical help, education, family reunification, and dealing with the court system in some cases.

Just His House, a short-term shelter for women, has been established to provide the women with a safe environment as well as to establish a safety plan while helping through the prosecution process. The safe houses are in private, undisclosed locations to ensure protection for the women. They will be provided food and clothing, as well as help in other life-skill areas such as cleaning, cooking, communication, and employment development. The women, who are referred to as survivors in the program, each will be assigned a trained “crisis navigator.”

It is for this reason Without Permission is holding these fund-raisers such as the drive-thru dinner at Precision Automotive in Manteca, and the 5K/10K Run/Walk being held on Saturday, June 29, at the Tuolumne River Regional Park, 1198 Tioga Drive in Modesto. The purpose of the run is to combat “human trafficking and exploitation in Stanislaus County,” according to the event flyer.

For more information on the fun run fund-raiser being dubbed 2013 Freedom Run, call (209) 338-0500 or register online at

“Our mission is to expose the reality of human trafficking… to teach youth and young adults that predators are in our schools, in our cities and nation. We will create school assemblies, night rallies, college campus open-air events, church services, community events as well as fund-raising events to raise awareness,” according to the organization’s web site.

Johnson brought that awareness to Manteca when she made a presentation at Crossroads Grace Community Church on Moffat Boulevard recently. It was there where Kohl, her husband Chris, and Precision Automotive employee Ted Atkins learned more about the organization and decided to become part of the effort being done by Without Permission.

Johnson said she also gives presentations to groups such as community service clubs, law enforcement officers and those dealing with prevention education. Presentation topics include educating people about the law on sex trafficking and about predators and how they operate, “and how the culture is feeding them,” she said.

Kohl said she became aware of the problem of sex trafficking last November when she attended Johnson’s presentation at Crossroads Grace Church.

“Since then, I have learned how big of a problem we are having in the valley and in Manteca. I’m having the dinner (fund-raiser) to bring a higher level of awareness to our community and the education of how to recognize it, what to do, and how we can all play a part in it being smashed, uprooted from our community,” Kohl said in an e-mail sent to the Bulletin.

“My heart – my hope – is that our city will come together and stop out this evil that is putting your young girls and boys in bondage,” she added.

Her goal is to raise $3,000 with all the proceeds “going back into our community – working with and training police, educators, parents, and service groups,” among others, she explained.

All who work for Without Permission, like Kohl, are volunteers.

Tickets for the drive-thru dinner are $12 each. The menu includes ribs, chicken, green beans, and dinner roll. Tickets are available at Precision Automotive, located at the corner of Moffat Boulevard and Garfield Avenue just behind Manteca High School, or call Shelley Kohl at (209) 456-7056.