Baltimore Premiere Recap by The Samaritan Women
The nation’s second premiere of IN PLAIN SIGHT: Stories of Hope and Freedom was hosted by The Samaritan Women and at The Senator. This theatre has been a Baltimore City icon since 1939. Named in 2014 as one of the top 20 movie theaters in the world, its rich history, 40-foot silver screen, and velvet upholstery, has been reimagined after having undergone a massive restoration and expansion.
The Samaritan Women prepped the lobby with welcome tables, balloons, and a VIP reception. The tables were staffed by TSW residents who were themselves decked out and excited to be a featured part of the event.
Over 250 people came to learn about the issue of human trafficking, and support our efforts to combat it and bring restoration to the survivors. The evening opened with an emcee welcome by Tracey Tiernan, Christian radio personality. She acknowledged the sponsor of the event, The Good Sower Foundation, and the Baltimore County Commission for Women, who served as volunteers.
The film was shown on a 40-foot silver screen to an attentive audience. Following the screening, the emcee offered the guests a rare postlude to the film: she invited each of the survivors who were featured in the TSW segments to come forward and share her sentiments with the audience. The room was a standing ovation of support for these courageous women, some of whom hid their faces in the film, but were so well-received by the audience that here they made themselves known. In the audience were also the parents of a 19-year old local girl who recently died after years of pimp control. The emcee paid honor to those girls who have been lost to this crime and those who are still out there and suffering.
$750,000 Committed to New Aftercare Home
The emotional roller-coaster continued when Jeanne Allert, TSW’s Executive Director, was invited to the floor to share late-breaking news. Rousing applause followed her announcement that two local philanthropists (who were present in the theatre) have come together to commit $750,000 toward the establishment of a second TSW facility. TSW’s Director invited the audience to join in the challenge to raise the full $1mil needed for the new facility.
Homeland Security Represented Among Noted Dignitaries
Representatives from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including Maria Odom, Director of The Blue Campaign, were among our event dignitaries. Director Odom made powerful opening remarks about the importance of government and non-government partnerships, and commended The Samaritan Women for mobilizing such community support. Her remarks were followed by a panel discussion including the Homeland Security Investigation’s Victim Assistance Specialist from Virginia, the HSI Investigator for Baltimore, a Sergeant from the State Troopers’ Child Recovery Unit, and The Samaritan Women’s Founder. Questions focused on the human trafficking landscape in the DC-Maryland-Virginia-Delaware area and how these agencies work with—and depend on—NGOs to support their efforts. The recurring themes of community awareness and citizen engagement were discussed, as well as the lack of funding at the government level and the need for grassroots participation.
People walked away from the screening not only educated and aware, but empowered and prepared to do the hard work of abolition in their everyday lives. Churches looked forward to engaging their congregations, individuals talked of reaching out to their legislators, and law enforcement agents spoke of bringing more training to their colleagues.
Without a doubt, the most poignant moment of the evening was at the end, as the guests left the theatre. TSW residents were all in the lobby, beaming with smiles and radiating a level of validation and vibrancy they may have never before known. Every guest contributed to the powerful and necessary work of dispelling the lies that have been ingrained into our ladies by their traffickers. The lie that no one is coming for them, no one cares about them, and no one believes they can be anything more than a product. Our residents saw so many people furious over the injustices done to them and ready to do battle for and with them.
In an act of spontaneity (and littering), our ladies took all the balloon bouquets from the theatre and set them free into the night sky. Free…just like they are now.