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Manolis honored with CWU Human Rights Award

Posted: Monday, Jan 14th, 2013

Jan Manolis, center, was presented the Church Women United Human Rights Award Friday at Living Hope Alliance Church. With her are Carla Micheel, left, and Sue Gose. PHOTO BY CRYSTAL PUGSLEY/PLAINSMAN

Penniless and holding a baby to her chest, she rocked herself on the edge of a bed in a motel room and wondered what she would do next.

Afraid, alone, and now, homeless, she had no where else to turn to for help. It was the early 1980s, and the subject of domestic violence was still spoken of in hushed whispers behind closed doors.

Jan Manolis, who pioneered the domestic violence program in Huron 28 years ago, remembers this young woman well.

“She had no clothing, no milk for the bottle — but she asked me for money for a pack of cigarettes,” Manolis said.

Stunned, she called the man who had helped train this first group of volunteer advocates. “I said I can’t do this — she’s asking for cigarettes,” she said. “He told me, ‘Don’t take those away from her, that’s all that’s holding her up right now.”

It taught her how desperate the need can be for these women and yes, men, who are making that life-changing decision to get away from someone who is abusing them — either physically, verbally or mentally.

For her work in the realm of domestic violence in Huron, Manolis was presented the Church Women United Human Rights Award Friday afternoon at Living Hope Alliance Church.

The only other local nominee for the CWU Human Rights Award was Hazel Mahone in 2007. Others awarded the honor on the state level were Ruth Lemon and Sue Gose.

Manolis was part of a small group of volunteers in Huron that began operating a domestic violence program through the YWCA. The hotline was activated and volunteers were trained to help.

The call is only the first step in the long process of trying to put their life back together again, she said. Housing needs were met at local motels, but those receiving shelter also needed food, clothing, toiletries, diapers and toys for children — and most importantly, someone to talk to, who can help them and encourage them.

“I had no idea I would be doing this 28 years later,” Manolis told the women assembled Friday.

Manolis, director of the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center, said the program has now grown to include a four-bedroom, two-bathroom shelter donated by Dr. Michael Fuchs and recently moved onto property. It has been full for the past two months.

“This is very humbling,” Manolis added.

The theme for this year’s CWU Human Rights Celebration is “Embracing Our Oneness,” reminding people to recognize what each person has in common. Church Women United have celebrated human rights for more than 70 years, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s work that brought the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that were adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

Friday was also recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

According to an annual report on human trafficking released by the U.S. State Department in June, 27 million men, women and children are exploited through human trafficking. Worldwide, at least two million children are estimated to be trafficked victims of the sex trade; and, in military conflicts, it is not uncommon for children to be forced to bear arms. In releasing the report last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing trafficking, and cultural issues associated with it.

Human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining any person for forced labor, slavery or servitude.

Did you know?

• After drug dealing, trafficking in persons is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, and is estimated to be the fastest growing.

• Modern slavery around the world claims 20.9 million victims at any time, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

• The ILO estimates that 55 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls, as are 98 percent of sex trafficking victims.

• An estimated 1.2-2 million children are trafficked within and across borders.

For more information about Church Women United visit www.churchwomen.org.

For the complete article see the 01-13-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-13-2013 paper.

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