Idaho Falls
clear sky
humidity: 29%
wind: 1mph SSW
H 75 • L 75

‘Color of Hope’ to raise funds for aftercare services for human trafficking victims


REXBURG — One of the best ways to combat the scourge of human trafficking is simply to be able to talk about it and recognize the reality of it.

That’s according to Kristin Coleman, an advocate for victims of human trafficking, who works to provide and improve aftercare programs for victims in eastern Idaho.

Coleman and others are planning The Color of Hope Festival this summer in Rexburg to bring awareness to the reality and danger in our own communities and to rally around and show support for victims.

The Color of Hope Festival will take place Saturday, June 25 in Rexburg. The day will begin with a 5k run at Smith Park, followed by a juried chalk art competition and music and live entertainment at Porter Park.

While the day will be a fun, family-friendly event, Coleman doesn’t want the festive nature to detract from the real goal, which is to raise funds for aftercare programs and raise awareness in the community.

“The most important message we’re trying to convey is that with all of the fun things that will be happening in our area this summer, our event has a very specific mission and purpose,” Coleman says. “We hope people will support our event because it will literally change lives.”

Coleman has partnered with Dahlia’s Hope, an organization that provides aftercare services to human trafficking victims after they’ve found freedom from trafficking. According to the organization’s website, the creation of Dahlia’s Hope was a response to the wish of a woman named Faith, who had been trafficked for years and did not have adequate aftercare resources available after she escaped.

According to Dahlia’s Hope, “In 2015 the U.S. State Department estimated that 1.2 million individuals were being trafficked here, domestically. In stark contrast, there are currently less than 1,000 spaces total in aftercare programs in the United States.”

Coleman says that, in moving to Rexburg from the east coast, she has observed a hesitancy among her new community members to discuss the problem.

“What I’ve been taken off guard with is, because Rexburg is such a lovely town and it’s smaller and it’s rural, it’s very hard for people to discuss the topic,” Coleman says. “So there’s a lot of disbelief that there is a problem.”

Coleman says sometimes people have a narrow view of what constitutes trafficking.

“People don’t understand the differences of trafficking,” she says. “In this part of the country, there’s a lot of familial trafficking. Many times they don’t even have to leave their homes for this crime to happen, so it’s hard to get that data and it’s very underground and it’s very difficult for people to even gauge or know. … Trafficking, as a whole, is hard to get data on, because it is a very organized crime.”

In getting to know victims in eastern Idaho and in talking with case workers, Coleman says she has found the top need in the area to be the availability of therapies that help trafficking victims acclimate back into the community. Funds raised at the Color of Hope Festival will go toward providing those services.

“It is going to a cause that I believe is the biggest cause we should be focusing on,” Coleman says. “There isn’t anything, in my opinion, that supersedes human slavery, period.”

Those who would like to participate in the Color of Hope 5k and the chalk art festival can find more details and sign up on the event’s website. There is a 30% discount for those who register before June 3. Vendors can also find more information and sign up for a booth at the same website.

Coleman hopes the event will break some barriers in the way the community is able to discuss and look for the signs of human trafficking.

“Although our community has a really tough time dealing with such a heavy topic, I do think it’s uniquely built, in a way,” she says. “Between academics, between faith, between the humility of the people who live here, I think we are perfectly positioned to help people who come here to heal.

Share This