But what else can we do? That’s the question Drew Mellon asks himself every day with his work through The Hard Places Community in Cambodia, an organization founded by his sister Ally in 2008 that’s directed at ending human trafficking.
Mellon, the USA director, turns 30 Saturday, April 6, 2013, the day of their walk-a-thon fundrasier, silent auction and CD release show at Sneaky Beans Coffee Shop. All money goes towards helping Hard Places (hardplaces-community.org) create more centers and programs that will continue to work towards helping children caught in a tangled web.
The walk is from 9am – 2pm and is traditionally a 10 mile walk in which each participant gets 10 people to sponsor them at $1 per mile for a total of $10 each or $100. This year, Traffick Jam is not stressing the distance as much which gives participants the freedom to stay within their limits and still participate. “If you want to do five miles, you can get five people to give you two dollars per mile,” Mellon explained. “We still ask each person to set their personal goal at $100 each. Registration per participant is $10.
Last year, Traffick Jam events nationwide raised $45,000. The Jackson walk is always the biggest. “I want Jackson to be the greatest because I’m here, but it all goes to the same thing,” Mellon said. “It’s a team effort.”
Punlok Thmey and Prook Thmey, a boys’ center and girls’ safe house and Hard Places Kids’ Clubs in Cambodia are the benefactors of Traffick Jam funds. “This is our major source of funding for the year,” Mellon explained. “We give children a safe place, provide art therapy, teach English and other life affirming skills and want to expand those programs and head off a life time of dependance on traffickers.”
But there’s more that can be done. Mellon said Hard Places is also growing their Cambodian tour guide program, financially supporting an orphanage in India once co-founded by his sister and advocating and advising on human trafficking issues here in the U.S..
“We’re a grassroots organization,” Mellon told us. “But we’re evolving and turning into something more. Hard Places is ready to move up and we’re waiting to see what that entails. We’re excited to see where it’s going to lead us.”
New this year is a compilation album conceived by producer, musician, Blue Skies Studio owner and Jacksonian Casey Combest. “It’s Casey’s way to give back and it showcases his studio,” Mellon said. “It’s awesome of him to do this. We couldn’t put this together if not for his idea and his donation.”
Included on the compilation CD will be Mellon’s band, Captain and Company; Oh, Jeremiah; Sean Kirkpatrick; Ty Garvey; Liver Mousse ; Furrows; Brad Ward (Marlowe and the Sea); Taylor Hilderbrand; Andy Hull; and Hunter Stewart. Michael Bolls handled album art duties.
Dropcards for an online download are available April 2, iTunes has the project, and the physical CD is available Wednesday, April 3.