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New Group Targets Human Trafficking
Networking organizations American Veterans First and Against My Will joined forces this past Saturday for a vendor fair and fundraiser. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

American Veterans First has joined forces with a new organization called Against My Will that helps victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. The new organization held a Vendor Fair and Fundraiser in the parking lot at the AVF headquarters this past Saturday, Oct. 23, bringing awareness to a serious issue.

“We are here to help veterans and first responders but it is really also to be a positive contribution to these communities all around us,” stated AVF President Josh Whitfield. “What these folks are doing, a lot of these folks on the board of Against My Will are first responders and veterans themselves, so it was an easy marriage, an easy handshake.”

Against My Will is a nonprofit organization and has only been in existence for the past three months that is based in Stanislaus County. President Kelley Coelho, Vice President Lisa Young, Secretary Rob Young, and Director of Public Relations Dulce Delatorre were all on hand at the event.

“I do not think our government pays enough attention and tackles this issue as seriously as they should,” mentioned Whitfield. “It needs voices like these ladies and men who are on this board here to step up and keep doing things like this to draw attention to an issue that is heartbreakingly sad.”

As a victim of sexual assault, Coelho saw a huge need in the county to target human trafficking and assist sexual assault victims. She is an active duty service member in the US Army and owns a few businesses.

“We are providing services to the community,” said Coelho. “We have a lot of long term plans as well. I also see a huge need in the military. So I really feel between myself, our organization Against My Will and AVF we could team up and work together and start helping not only the people here in the community but service members who are struggling and people that do come forward that are not being helped. We are going to be like they said, that big brother big sister and help them out through the process and say this is point A this is point Z, if you want help this is how we are going to help you. We will walk them through that process and make it a successful procedure for everybody.”

There were approximately 50 vendors on hand that came from all over the area including Sacramento and Gilroy. The variety of vendors consisted of food booths, crafts, home décor, essential oils, creams, art, honey, clothing, jewelry, cutting boards, and custom gifts.

California Gold Olive Oil Company out of Oakdale was on hand with their olive oil and Sheriff Jeff Dirkse had a booth at the event.

Uncle Papa’s BBQ made the trek all the way from Gilroy and they served up slider combos with tri tip, hot links, chili beans and mac and cheese that guests raved about.

Several businesses donated items for the raffle. They had an assortment of gift baskets to distribute to the winners. AVF Board Member Paige McLaughlin purchased a few raffle tickets and her number was called. She was delighted.

There was a steady stream of people from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Dutch Hollow Farms donated 100 pumpkins for the event. They set up a table with paints so kids could show their artistic talents and decorate the pumpkins.

“I thought the event was phenomenal,” added Whitfield. “It is their first one they had here and I have no doubt that next year’s event will be even better. I really hope these guys continue to do what they are doing.”

The organization will use all the funds raised to expand their reach, services, and programs. They have plans to distribute finger print kits to schools for students, create a children’s coloring book and other long term goals to help the community.

“We are hoping to bring law enforcement on and walking them through the whole process that is something long term that we would like to do,” added Lisa Young. “We really want to be boots on the ground helping victims of human trafficking.”

Delatorre noted that along with the services they offer they will be working with hospitals to identify victims and put them in touch with Against My Will so they can walk them through the process.

“We have talked to several people, several victims, several administrators, and different groups and what they have noticed is that somewhere along the line victims are left with not knowing what is next,” stated Delatorre. “Where do I go from here and how do I get the help I need. So that is what we are going to do.”

Volunteers Coordinator for Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, Barbara Lewis Jensen, said the Sheriff has shown support for the new organization and they would like to continue networking with other organizations.

“He is a very strong advocate for Against My Will,” said Jensen. “He has been doing the sex trafficking busts. It is very important to him. He is also working with AVF for suicide prevention. He is very involved as a veteran and law enforcement in both groups.”

Rob Young is a police sergeant in Northern California and has been in law enforcement since 2004. He has participated in stings for sex operations and human trafficking take downs.

“I have gone after predators,” remarked Rob. “I saw the need several years ago and I see how much of an epidemic it is working in and out of our schools and working with students and working for school districts as a school resource officer over the years. I see it day after day working patrol. It is an absolute epidemic.”

For more information or to contact Against My Will visit Facebook, Instagram or their website:

“We are very grateful,” expressed Coelho. “We have had a lot of people show up. We are actually really thankful for all the vendors that came out and the support from Sheriff Dirkse. American Veterans First has really stepped up to the plate and we are really thankful for that. We have already set goals for next year of what we want to accomplish.”

amw pumpkins
Among the variety of vendors setting up shop for the Against My Will vendor fair/informational/fundraising event on Saturday, there were pumpkins for families to paint and take home. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
amw food
Ty’s Gourmet Dogs served up bacon wrapped hot dogs and hot links for guests during the vendor fair hosted at American Veterans First this past Saturday. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS