OAKLAND (KPIX) – California is a national hot spot for human sex trafficking, according to the FBI. One East Bay boulevard is an especially notorious location.
This week’s Jefferson Award winner who is at the forefront of the fight, armed with love.READ MORE: As COVID Delta Variant Infections Subside Experts Warn of Winter Surge
Volunteers create a makeshift garden along International Boulevard in Oakland. Organizer Regina Evans says they’re leaving a beautiful message on a street known as Ground Zero for human sex trafficking.
“All I’m doing is letting you know that I see you, that you are not forgotten, that you are a special soul,” Evans said.
Her home base is Regina’s Door.
Evans opened the vintage apparel store in downtown Oakland six years ago as a sanctuary in the fight against what she calls modern-day slavery.
“I see a 14-year-old black child being sold on the streets, it’s an unbearable pain. And the best that I know how to deal with it is in the bonds of love,” said Evans.
In fact, Evans has been helping the Alameda County District Attorney’s office reach out to more than 5,500 children its identified in the last eight years as current or potential victims.READ MORE: Concord Restaurant, Bar Patrons Divided Over Vaccine Mandate
Assistant D.A. Sharmin Bock heads the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit.
“Regina’s work is visionary. She doesn’t just think outside the box, she thinks without a box.” Bock said.
To help survivors heal from their trauma, Evans has organized drumming circles, concerts, and poetry readings. She’s written two anti-trafficking plays with proceeds going to survivors and she’s teaching them a new skill: how to sew theater costumes.
“You’re able to heal and stitch and create and see the works of your hands, which is super important when everything has been ripped away from you,” said Evans.
She says she does not know how many people she’s helped over the years. She says it’s not about numbers, but about love.
Celeste Futch, program coordinator for Dreamcatcher Youth Services, a shelter for teenagers, says Regina is simply an inspiration.
“I feel like that’s who she is, who she was born to be. She’s a fighter,” Futch said.MORE NEWS: Newsom Signs Law to Replace Fr. Serra Statue With Memorial to Indigenous Californians
So for her role in the fight against sex trafficking and healing of survivors, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Regina Evans.