Through partnership with Rethreaded, Realtors help survivors of sex-trafficking

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More than 50 members of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR) supported Rethreaded's efforts to assist sex-trafficking survivors by taking part in a special Community Affairs Task Force event May 5.

Association members toured the nonprofit’s new Springfield facility, the Delores Barr Weaver Campus of Hope, and learned about the ways Rethreaded helps women get back into society through business before spending several hours deconstructing leather airline seats donated by Southwest Airlines. Leather from the seats will be used by the women to make wallets, purses and other items to sell in their gift shop.

“It makes me feel good to see my brother and sister Realtors out here working together for a great cause,” said Jay Wike of Momentum Realty. “I am highly impressed with the Rethreaded organization and how they are using business to better people victimized by this terrible thing, sex trafficking. I am a father — I have a daughter — and I like working with my hands. When I saw this event offered through NEFAR, I grabbed it. I said to myself, ‘This is something I’ve got to do.’”

As the largest professional association in Northeast Florida, NEFAR represents more than 11,000 members who work in all facets of the real estate industry, including residential and commercial sales and property management.

Rethreaded is a nonprofit organization that makes and sells handmade leather goods and accessories so that victims of human trafficking can have a second chance at life through viable employment. Its mission is to renew hope, reignite dreams and release potential for survivors of sex trafficking both locally and globally through business.

The women it serves are given employment opportunities in different facets of the company including production, inventory, sales, marketing and finance and administration.

The Rethreaded event was the second charitable event of the year hosted by the association’s Community Affairs Task Force. In March, a large group of Realtors built two permanent wheelchair ramps for an amputee and his disabled wife, enabling the couple to gain access to their Southside home.

Headed by Chairman Christina Welch and Vice Chairman Margarita Cavanagh, the Community Affairs Task Force has two more charitable events planned for this year.

On July 23, the association will host a massive river and beach clean-up event to coincide with Florida Realtor’s month-long Clean-Up Florida Waters initiative. Later in the year, the task force expects to organize a large food drive to help combat food insecurity in Northeast Florida by assisting community food pantries within the region.

The Rethreaded event was an eye-opener for many of the NEFAR members who took part in the event.

“I like to give back to the community, and I thought it would be fun to take part in a little day project like this. Until I got here, I didn’t realize how prevalent sex trafficking was in Florida,” said Kyle Axenheld of Watson Mortgage Corp.

Axenheld said he was surprised to learn that Florida is third in the nation in human trafficking and that Duval County is the third county in Florida with the largest problem.

Rethreaded CEO Kristin Keen said she appreciated having association members spend a whole day volunteering on her new campus.

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