Reflection on “Not Just Talk” – Taking Action on Human Trafficking in NYC

Saturday morning was a beautiful day — Not only was the weather perfect, but we launched this year’s initiatives for Plymouth’s Anti-Trafficking Ministry. We’ll be partnering with three well-know organizations: ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), who we already have a relationship with through Christian Help and the Underground Thrift. Sanctuary For Families, leaders in the field for over 20 years, working with domestic violence and trafficking victims right here in New York City. Restore, a smaller, new agency that gives counseling services and runs a safe house for trafficking victims, again right here in New York.

Monday morning I found in my in-box an email from Dorchen Leidholdt, a lawyer who is the director of the Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services for Sanctuary for Families. Dorchen has literally written the book that judges read to learn more about trafficking, and how to treat its victims when they enter our legal system.

“It was so great to meet with you, your fellow congregants, and the other anti-trafficking activists in that extraordinarily inspiring space. We need to be as bold, strategic, and effective as Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe in order to abolish contemporary forms of slavery. I’m so excited to think about how we can leverage their legacy in the service of 21st Century victims and survivors.”

That hits the sweet spot. It took me a year to find the right partners for Plymouth as we begin this new work. ECPAT, Sanctuary For Families and Restore are a great fit for us, as we will work hands-on in our own city to help those who have been so grievously hurt.

There’s a phrase that sticks in my head from a Sunday School song that we sang when I was a kid: “Whatsoever you do, to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” This morning I may search for the gender-neutral translation of that bible passage, but I think you get the idea: when we work with our hands to reach out to women and children so badly treated by our own neighbors, in our own community we reach out and touch the divine.

Beth Fleisher


Yankee Fair – Lora Churcher Q&A

With Yankee Fair only weeks away, Lora Churcher, a leader of Yankee Fair, took a few minutes from her busy schedule to share with me how the planning is going.

Yankee Fair takes place Nov. 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Q: How is this year’s fair different or the same?

LC: It’s our hope that this year’s Yankee Fair evokes the same warm feelings of a community gathering as it did when it first started so many years ago. We’re also trying to mix it up by adding some fun new elements, but want to keep that retro feel of an old fashioned fair.

Q: Any special/new features not previously offered? 

LC: We have a dress-up photo booth that should be fun for everyone, a local children’s band (Niko’s Kids) is playing a family folk concert, and our booths inside selling homemade items, (gently used) children’s clothing, books and collectibles are going to have must-have items as well. Country Kitchen is also selling frozen entrees and meals, and Luke’s Lobster has donated lobster stew meals.

Q: How many hours have you put into the planning? 

LC: Too many to count … in a good way,

Q: Tell me about the committee.

LC: We have a wonderful group of people helping this year. It includes a mix of church members, school parents and staff members. There are people who’ve been to 15 Yankee Fairs and those who will be coming for the first time. Everyone who has been asked has jumped into the project with both feet and is happy to go above and beyond to make it a successful day.

Q: How will the money raised be used?

LC: Monies raised by Yankee Fair 2014 will go to the restoration and maintenance of our historic buildings, playground improvements (first purchase: new picnic tables), and to St. John’s Bread and Life, the Brooklyn-based initiative that fights hunger and poverty right here in our community.

Q: What’s for lunch?

LC: Chili is making a return appearance with cornbread. We’re also going to have sandwiches, children’s meals and fresh fruit.

Q: If Henry Ward Beecher could attend, what would he say?

LC: “I love that the tradition of Yankee Fair is still being continued.”

Q: Any way to quantify how many skeins of yard have gone into 

the knitted projects? 

LC: We have a craft group that meets once a week to cut/sew/assemble all items, plus many people have taken home kits to cut. I’d guess at least 100.

Q: Any new or unique homemade items this year? 

LC: We have an amazing collection of handmade pillows (holiday and year round decor), retro felt ornaments, aprons, and gift tags. We have young children making some special gifts as well.  Everything looks like it belongs on Etsy.

Q: Anything else you want to say or people need to know?

LC: Our church historian told us that Plymouth Church actually had — and was involved with Fairs dating back to the Civil War — to raise funds for the war effort. There was a Country Kitchen, which was called the New England Kitchen back then. On display will be Mrs. Beecher’s apron from one of those fairs.

Thank you, Lora, and the committee, for all the work that went into making Yankee Fair a dream come true.

Get more Yankee Fair details here