The Salt & Light Coalition hosts its first annual gala, “Experience The Light,” at the Wintrust Grand Banking Hall on August 2, to shed light on the healing and empowerment of human trafficking survivors through artist collaborations.
The event pairs Salt and Light women and youth with local visual artists, who will create art to be experienced and auctioned at the gala. An initiative of their arts entrepreneurship program, all proceeds will go to support participants in three program initiatives—heal, educate, empower.
Salt & Light Coalition is known for work rooted in tackling sexual trauma, and for empowering women who have experienced human trafficking, by offering a yearlong program for survivors with an emphasis on education, healing, nutrition and wellness, as well as career and job placement. The volunteer-run initiative, started by Izabel Olson, who is from Brazil, was a response to grassroots work within troubled communities.
“I started Salt & Light when I entered the jail system to teach yoga… [I]t was the first time in my life that I saw complete darkness,” Olsen writes on the website. “Despite my vast experience with vulnerable populations in Brazil, there was something so dark that took hold of these women as a result of being victims of sex trafficking. I felt a call to do more.”
Chicago ranks third nationally in human trafficking statistics. Each year, over 25,000 women and girls fall victim to human trafficking here: roughly two girls every hour, according to trafficking expert Charles Hounmenou. One-third of the victims enter human trafficking rings at just fifteen years old, and sixty-two percent by the age of eighteen. Seventy percent deal with PTSD. These are the issues that Salt & Light Coalition hope to raise awareness of, and to raise funds for at the gala to continue this mission of healing.
Programs for women survivors include group sessions, a stipend, CTA pass, yoga teacher training (Salt & Light Coalition is a registered yoga school), nutrition and exercise training, fifty hours of workforce training, internships with Kitchfix to qualify for a food handlers permit and twenty-five one-hour sessions to learn the basics of entrepreneurship in the arts.
Zoraida Sambolín of NBC News will host the event, with performances from DJ and violinist Kat V. Visual artists in attendance will include William O’Brien, Susan Aurinko, Candida Alvarez, Edra Soto, Kimberly Gill and Steven Halunbeek. For more information, visit www.saltandlightcoalition.com. (Ciera Mckissick)
The Salt and Light Coalition gala, “Experience the Light,” will be at Wintrust Grand Banking Hall, 231 South LaSalle, August 2, 7:30pm-11pm.