Mei Tomko: Escaping the Statistic
Mei Tomko remembers visiting Grace Church Shrewsbury in New Freedom and seeing a sign for an “adults-only” event about sex trafficking.
Born in China, Mei (pronounced May) came to the U.S. as a baby after being adopted by a York County couple. She considers herself one of the lucky ones. Children in China age out of orphanages once they turn 13. If there is no housing placement available, they may find themselves on the streets. When that happens, they often become victims of sex trafficking. “Realizing that hit home for me,” the teenager says. “It could’ve been me if I wasn’t adopted.”
Sparrow Place, based in York, looks to create a voluntary stay residential program for survivors of sex trafficking that would offer career training and development. They’ve built a following through community awareness events, like the one that attracted Mei. She reached out to the organizers and convinced them to let her attend the event. Today, she’s a 17-year-old teen advocate for the group.
“I wanted to highlight why teenagers, especially high school students, should be aware and care.” Sex trafficking isn’t limited to other countries, she says. Pennsylvania ranks 10th in the United States for prevalence of human trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, with York and Dauphin counties accounting for 10 percent of human trafficking incidents statewide.
Mei first learned of the topic in elementary school, when a YouTube channel she followed began a campaign raising awareness for human trafficking. “It had illustrated images of people with price tags being lined up like toys,” Mei says. “It just hit me that these people were being sold.” Now that she’s linked up with Sparrow Place, Mei has done her part to raise awareness in her southern York County high school.
Over the past year, she spoke at two Sparrow Place community awareness events, is continually requesting her high school leadership raise awareness through infographics and age-appropriate speakers, and works with students to create art projects to encourage youth involvement.
“Traffickers come and target people as young as 12-to-14 years-old,” Mei says. “I wanted to highlight why teenagers, especially high school students, should be aware and care.”
1/26/19 Excited to take action to the street & support Communities Against Trafficking of Central PA SOAP event! 💙
We labeled soap and makeup remover wipes with the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number and helped distribute them to York area hotels and motels. Hopefully, this effort will give victims easy and discreet access to the information. ☎️
12/10/18 Human Rights Day Community Panel Discussion
Hosted by the Paul Smith Library of SYC
“How are our rights affected by high profile crimes?”
Thank you for inviting SP to sit on this panel with District Judge Lindy L. Sweeney, local attorneys, and other guests. We look forward to many more future discussions and awareness opportunities!
Sparrow Place just accepted our first intern and we are thrilled to have her along on our journey.
Ashley is currently a Junior in college with a dual major in Social Work and Biblical Studies. She first started having a passion to see human trafficking brought to an end as a senior in high school four years ago. Her goal is to forward our awareness efforts through the use of photography, video, social media, and a possible teen speaking engagement. Keep an eye out for her work!
Since we believe in the empowerment of all girls and women, we’ll let Ashley speak for herself, “It is my goal and dream to work with survivors one on one and see them spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically restored through the grace, love, and power of Jesus Christ.”
Join in our support as we wish Ashley a warm welcome. We are going to keep her busy!
Even MORE to 'Purchase with a PURPOSE'! Have we mentioned how much we LOVE Individual Fundraising?!? 💕
Volunteers used their skills to create FUN & unique artisan jewelry and offered it for sale at The Top Drawer Consignment Shop! 100% of profits will be used by Sparrow Place toward the purchase or re-purposing of a donated house for survivors of domestic sex trafficking.
We rely heavily on volunteers & donations and the community once again, generously & graciously...stepped up!
Thank you for making this event a success.
One step closer to fulfilling our mission!
“Thank You!” to the motivational speakers and advocacy groups that participated in our community awareness event.
The Samaritan Women
Communities Against Trafficking
House of Hope
New Life for Girls
Not One More
Also, a huge SHOUT OUT to Grace Church Shrewsbury for hosting, & to the Women of Grace for sweetening up the night with treats!
Thank you to the Paul Smith Library, Shrewsbury, for helping to spread the word about this event!
Support our local library and stop by to thank them for having resources about human trafficking available.
We LOVE partnerships that work for the betterment of SYC!
Sparrow Place was asked to set up an informational table and be available to answer questions regarding what human trafficking has to do with local kids. Our response? "Absolutely!"
1705 Palomino Road
Dover, PA 17315
4/3/18 SP Executive Director, Jan Wilson, joins Fred McNaughton & Lisa Landis Blowers LIVE on WJTL FM 90.3 to share our mission and invite the community to the human trafficking awareness event on 4/19. Thankful to be asked to share!
Thank you, Ben Williamson, college student and all around amazing guy, for the design of our logo. We LOVE it!
Sparrow Place is a non-profit based on volunteerism and you are a perfect example of a community member joining us to offer their talent and abilities to help move this vision forward.
Who's next to jump in? If you believe in our goal to help survivors walk a restorative path to freedom, reach out and contact us!
1/29/18 York, PA
Red Sand Project
An interactive and social media driven national campaign, held by ACCESS York. Sparrow Place was proud to participate!
It was a huge success!
1/19/18 Sparrow Place was honored to have our Executive Director, Jan Wilson, participate as one of the speakers at a Human Trafficking awareness event hosted by Communities Against Trafficking of Central PA & the York County Human Trafficking Task Force. Thanks to all of those able to come out and join our awareness efforts. The turnout was amazing; the community has spoken. We want to end human trafficking and we want to heal those who were trafficked.
We look forward to hosting the next community event in the Spring!