How do we know this works?
We get this question a lot. For a few years, our normal response had been, “We don't know. We just have faith that it does.” However, that answer has recently changed.
- Typically, 80-100% of visited hotels accept the labeled soap during a given outreach.
- Each hotel also receives $50 worth of free materials and resources, including localzed and up-to-date information on missing children.
- Generally at least 1 missing child is identified by hotel staff during each outreach.
- Polaris Project says of The SOAP Project, “The outreach efforts have had a significant impact. The Hotline doesn't have a marketing budget, so we rely on efforts like [theirs] to get the Hotline information in front of the people who need it the most.”
- Michigan Crimes Against Children agency reports a dramatic increase in calls to their tip line during outreaches.
- Outreaches typically consist of 30-500 volunteers. Once an outreach is completed, volunteers have been educated in the basics of Human Trafficking.
Some things might not have a measurable goal. And it really doesn't matter how many are saved. One is enough. All that really matters is that we are doing something about this issue.
Theresa was sitting in a small group setting at a local drug and alcohol residential recovery program for women and sharing her story. She was asked by one of the ladies about SOAP and how we knew it works. She gave her normal response and then a woman in the circle spoke out quietly, “My name is Amanda and I know it works!” Theresa thought she was just being nice and supportive but the woman continued on, “Four months ago I was in a Detroit motel near the airport and the ‘John’ started to go crazy on me. He was high and beat me and I was scared for my life so I ran into the bathroom with my cell phone and locked the door. I saw a bar of soap with a red label and called the number on it. The police rescued me and I got into a recovery program and here I am today. Thank you. It saved my life.”
A group of women in New Hampshire have been doing regular outreaches for the last few years. At church one Sunday, they announced an upcoming SOAP outreach and human trafficking awareness event. Stephanie came up to their table after church and asked for more information. She revealed to them that she was a survivor and just recently had gotten free. “I have seen the bars of soap in the motels! Some of the pimps (traffickers) are now going into the rooms with the girls so its hard to call but us girls on the streets have been talking about it and know it's there. Even if we can't call, it's so wonderful to know that there are people out there that care and are doing this!”
During an annual outreach, a team went into a small hotel and showed the front desk clerk the missing children poster. The woman started to cry. She said, “That is my niece's picture. I didn’t think anyone cared or was looking for her. Thank you.”
During another outreach, a team went to a low end motel in a high risk part of town. Before they got out of the car, they noticed an older white man in his late 50's going into a motel room with a young African American girl, approximately 15 years old, with a lot of make up on and looking down to the ground. The police were immediately notified.
A team of women from the Birmingham Junior League returned for the second year to go out to hotels and were discussing in the car that they were a little frustrated that they hadn't heard of any result or indication this really worked. They asked to go to the same hotels as the previous year and on their first stop, they went in and the manager was very happy to see them. He greeted them and said, “Oh, you're here with more soap! Did you know a girl was rescued last year after you left?” Within a few days, he had recognized a missing child on the poster and called the police. She was recovered that night. The team left there with huge smiles, energized to do even more.
Phoenix, AZ Super Bowl 2015
A team came back and reported that a hotel staff recognized a 15-year-old from the poster. They said that she had been there that night with her “Boyfriend” The police were notified and went to the hotel, where they got the male's information. Later that day he was arrested and she was recovered, along with another 15-year-old girl. Apparently they had been searching for this big time pimp for a while!