At Sivo Insights we believe that research is about so much more than numbers. It’s about a real human experience and authentic interactions. We also believe that individuals really make all the difference. One team member in particular is not only making a difference in the world of market research, but she’s taking a stance to raise awareness and bring an end to the growing international issue of human trafficking.
When Katy Koestler first became aware of human trafficking twelve years ago, she felt a profound calling that she needed to get involved. At the time she was a stay at home mom of three children and wasn’t sure where to start or what she could do to help. After months of research Katy discovered a non-profit organization based out of California called Not For Sale, and decided to dive in and get involved.
“The philosophy of the organization is that everyone can do something. They empower people to make an impact wherever they are at in their life,” says Katy.
With an extensive background as a researcher and brand strategist, Katy put her skills and creative talent to work and created a Not For Sale newsletter for the state of Minnesota.
“Most people are surprised to find out that Minnesota is one of the worst states for human trafficking. We have an international border and an international port in Duluth, and these types of locations become hot spots for smuggling people in and out of the country,” says Katy, “It’s not just happening overseas, it’s happening right in our backyard.”
Another major issue in Minnesota is prostitution, where troubled youth and runaways often fall victim to traffickers. “So many people have the misconception that prostitution is a choice,” says Katy, “However with the average age of entry being 13, these girls are being recruited before they even get a chance to start their lives.”
In addition to raising awareness through the newsletter, Katy also decided to participate in the Not For Sale initiative, Free2Play. Team Free2Play provides support to child victims of human trafficking through physical activity. All of the money that Katy raised from running a marathon went directly to health and sports equipment for victims that had been rescued from the brothels in Vietnam.
Today Katy also works with Source MN, a local non-profit that empowers the at-risk and unreached to make a break from the past and build foundations for the future. Most recently they opened a safe house in the Twin Cities for women coming out of trafficking in Minnesota.
“The safe house provides a place for women who are ready to turn their life around and re-enter society or enter it for the first time,” says Katy. “They provide recovery resources and a supportive community that empowers victims to build a new life.”
Another major component of putting an end to human trafficking is education. Katy regularly speaks at high schools, church groups and community groups to spread the message and educate others about the harsh realities of trafficking and what they can do to get involved.
“Everyone can do something. We just have to ask ourselves, ‘What can I do with where I’m at right now to make a difference?’” says Katy.