Strike Out Modern Slavery
POLARIS AMBASSADORS MAX & ERICA SCHERZER
Strengthening the Safety Net for Survivors of Human Trafficking
Now entering his 9th season in the big leagues, sports fans around the world have come to recognize Max Scherzer as one of the best Startling Pitchers in Major League Baseball. While this Washington Nationals’ All-Star certainly is no stranger to the roar of the crowds, it’s his heroics with his off-field teammate that are truly worthy of admiration. When Max’s eyes aren’t on the ball, he and his wife Erica are gearing up for a much more pressing goal — to strike out modern slavery.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. All over the planet men, women and children are being forced to engage in commercial sex acts, labor or services against their will. While we as a nation pride ourselves on the integrity of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, this form of slavery often occurs right under our noses. Perhaps it’s the housekeeper down the road or the girl forced into prostitution, or maybe it’s the man working at your local farm or washing dishes in a nearby restaurant. While there are many faces to modern slavery, all trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.
After escaping victimization many of these survivors face an uphill battle to rebuild their lives. Even accessing the most basic services like housing and medical care can be challenging, let alone more complex necessities such as counseling, immigration relief and legal advocacy. To combat this, Max and Erica Scherzer have made it their mission to advocate for stronger protections and support for survivors of human trafficking. In October 2015 Erica May-Scherzer became an Ambassador for Polaris — a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. As a long-time advocate for vulnerable populations, Erica is a powerful asset for the non-profit. At Polaris she fights for stronger anti-human trafficking legislation by leveraging her connections on Capitol Hill. Working with everyone from constituents to Members of Congress, she is doing her part to ensure survivors of human trafficking have the support they need.
Erica also backs Polaris’ National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline and BeFree Textline. These helplines serve as central access points, connecting victims of modern slavery with on-the-ground services, resources, and practitioners. Polaris’ Hotline Advocates are highly-trained and skilled in assessing the immediate, short-term, and long-term safety needs of trafficking victims. Since December 2007 over 27,775 human trafficking cases have been reported and thousands of lives have been saved. To strengthen the safety net for survivors Polaris has fostered relationships with thousands of social service providers and law enforcement entities across the country. One such organization is San Diego Youth Services — a charitable organization that provides support at over 80 different locations to at-risk youth including those who have been commercially sexually exploited. Erica visited the non-profit this June to learn more about the important work they are doing and to talk about the hotline.
“The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a lifeline for survivors of human trafficking that relies on thousands of non-profits across the country to connect survivors with services that empower them to rebuild their lives. It was an honor for me to meet advocates at San Diego Youth Services and see their inspirational work to help youth who have experienced human trafficking, homelessness, child abuse, and mental health issues,” said Erica. “To truly create an effective and robust safety net for survivors of modern slavery, it’s absolutely critical for people to support local non-profits throughout America that are providing life-changing services and support like San Diego Youth Services.”
In the 2016 MLB season Erica and her husband Max rallied support from their fans, partnering with Polaris on two fundraising efforts: Autographs & Athletes and Strike Out Modern Slavery. The Autographs & Athletes program allowed fans to get their favorite Max Scherzer items signed when making an online donation. At the end of the year, all of the money raised through the program was matched by Max and Erica and donated to Polaris. The Strike Out Modern Slavery program encouraged fans to make a donation to Polaris for every strikeout Max threw during the 2016 MLB season. Pledging to donate per strikeout also entered fans into a chance to win a signed baseball or tickets to a Washington Nationals home game. Erica and Max matched every gift up to $25,000, doubling the effort to help end modern slavery.
You too can help strengthen the safety net for thousands of human trafficking victims across the United States. Support Polaris and local non-profits like San Diego Youth Services that provide much needed help to victims of modern slavery.
24% more survivors reached out to the NHTRC and BeFree Textline for help in 2015 over 2014.
More than 1,600 survivors called, emailed, or texted in 2015 compared to just over 1,300 in 2014.