Arriving in Minneapolis with no money or plan, and a small bag of clothes, she lived on the streets while holding down a part-time job.
With temperatures dropping and no place to go, it was hard to refuse an offer to move in with Ann - a woman she met one night. However, it soon became obvious the housing was not free.
Carla was soon being trafficked around the Twin Cities and emotionally abused.
That’s when Carla made the call to Brittany’s Place, 180 Degrees’ emergency shelter for youth who are at risk of or experiencing sexual exploitation. Carla describes the day she arrived. “I was scared. My anxiety was going through the roof. But I knew my life had a purpose and this was my last chance.”
Carla was welcomed and offered food, water, and clean clothes. That evening, she slept in a private room and for the first time in her life. She finally felt safe.
Thanks to supporters like you, Carla is empowered, and continues to heal and grow.
Social media intern Johan Wyckoff is helping 180 Degrees expand its use of social media to educate people about homelessness and sex trafficking of youth. Before Johan joined 180 Degrees, the Marketing team lacked the capacity to publish meaningful content across its social media platforms.
Arriving last November as an intern, Johan joined the team right before Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s biggest day of online giving, and began learning the ins and outs of digital campaigns. In January, Human Trafficking Awareness month, Johan pushed out a month-long educational campaign with stories and facts about human trafficking. The extra coverage helped donors better understand the realities Minnesota youth at risk of or experiencing sex trafficking face.
A graduate of University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Johan came to 180 Degrees with a background in writing, social media, and videography. He’s used these skills to help grow the organization’s social media presence.
“We all want to make some kind of change in the world,” Johan said. “I don't have a million bucks that I could donate towards helping improve lives in my community. If I can work with an organization and provide support so they can get the funds and the attention they need to do these long-term projects, I'm fine with that.”
Johan has found a professional fit in 180 Degrees, but his connection to the organization is much deeper. The mission is incredibly meaningful to Johan, and his time with 180 Degrees has opened his eyes to the powerful ways that he can use his professional skills to benefit the cause.
“Working with 180 Degrees has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had,” Johan said. “It’s like learning about a subject you only hear about in passing. But when you immerse yourself in it, you realize that it is a really serious mission anyone can be a part of.”
Johan’s main goals for 180 Degrees social media presence are education and engagement, which he achieves using visuals, videos and facts. Johan’s advice for anyone considering volunteering at 180 Degrees: “Leave your expectations at the door and learn as much as you can.”
Make sure to follow 180 Degrees on social media for future announcements and updates!
Richard Coffey, Program Director at 180 Degrees, has had a career that spans many fields. He recounts the highlights: motivational speaker, a father, an ex-Timberwolf and Gopher, and an U.S. Army Airborne Paratrooper Veteran.
Richard's journey began in Aurora, North Carolina. Shortly after graduating from high school, his dad encouraged him to either join the military or go to college; he promptly joined the 82nd Airborne Battalion and, after three years of service, went to school at the University of Minnesota. Though he achieved fame in collegiate and professional basketball, Richard's sports career would come to an end in 1998. He parlayed professional connections into a sales career, providing for his family.
It was during his sales career that the question his mother always asked him started to bother him. "Who did you help today?"
His mom would end each conversation over the phone with that statement. It did not stick at first, but over time it bothered him. So much so that he switched career paths in 2013; he went back to school in Administration. He even worked as a Dean for a few years.
Now as Program Manager for 180 Degrees, Richard leads our shelter and supportive services programs, and a staff of 70 people. These Program Managers and direct care workers support people who struggle with the effects of poverty, racism, incarceration, and trauma.
180 Degrees has blossomed because of Richard's supportive and assertive style, much like how a basketball coach would strategically switch out players on the court. He uses his experiences to connect with those around him. He gives people chances to shine. Those who work closely with Richard during the day at 180 Degrees can all agree that his presence has a huge, positive impact.
Leading the program team, Richard is a force for advocacy and change while providing hands-on mentorship. As I was talking with 180 Degrees staff, the collective response was, “Richard has been a true force of positivity... he is an inspirational leader and pushes you to be the best. He gives you chances to get your job right. If you are hitting a roadblock, he asks you questions about how you think you can improve yourself while giving positive feedback.” A Program Manager shares, “Richard has helped me realize that I have a voice in my community and it’s up to me to be an advocate for myself and those around me. I shouldn’t be a bystander and that motivates me to be my best.”
Richard's guiding philosophy is centered on finding the inner courage to learn, even at the risk of failure. He believes more people should hold these words in their hearts: "The best leader is one who is able to surround himself or herself with people who are experts in their field.”
It is a sobering reminder that we are students in our professions. People are constantly learning and adapting to changes -- when we can overcome the anxiety and fear, we make ourselves confident and powerful. That confidence can change lives and impact everyone -- through advocacy, support, or investment in people around us.
So, I ask you this: Who did you help today?