I have this thing that I do. It’s hard for me to explain, and I think it often has driven my family a little nuts over the years. Whenever I walk through an antique store and browse what are usually messy shops with crowded aisles and glass counters, I don’t see trinkets and furniture. I see items that were chosen, purchased, created and at least for a while valued by people in lives long past. I focus on something and wonder if it was made in a factory or an entrepreneur’s basement. I think about the merchant who sold it. Was it in a tiny shop or by a door-to-door salesman? Was it brought home and proudly placed in a curio cabinet or put in a drawer to use for preparing meals more easily? Everything in those places has a story.
I can cover these and other questions as fast as my mind can process them for each thing I see, yet I could never really explain to my family why I’m holding them up, lingering so long around things of such little value.
My daughter and son-in-law introduced me to the human trafficking issue when they hosted a dinner in their home to raise both funds for iEmpathize and awareness of the problem. I was immediately captivated by the opportunity to make a difference. Shortly after, we attended our first WE Event and began to view the artifacts, one by one. As you may imagine, my mind went into overdrive as I looked at each item. The cans of glue purchased by kidnappers who valued their addictive properties. The photograph of a wooden bed created to facilitate the most horrendous of crimes. And of course, those little shoes.
My wife and I have supported iEmpathize ever since then. My daughter, Candace Joice, is now on staff. I’ve had the privilege of working with iE and Truckers Against Trafficking in Louisville, KY recruiting truckers as abolitionists. I want to do more.
If you are reading this, it’s because exposure to the issue has caused you to dig deep enough into the iE website to read blog entries. Let me encourage you to follow your heart, empathize and engage. Every artifact, every photograph, every little shoe has a story of their own.