Shandra Lee. With Heart Wide Open. A Miracle In The Making.

Last Wednesday we decided your story is what we relate to:  draws me in, repels me, brings compassion and tears, laughter and joy to my listening ears. This is second of a just few stories in the series. Pull up your hammock. Stir your Sangria or Sweet Tea. Sip, sit a spell. Listen with your Heart. You’ll be glad you did.


Today. Looking back about 8 years ago to the first COOATH training at Desert Streams Church, Bend Oregon. FBI, Marshall’s and everything. Eye opening, jaw dropping statistics of  3 types of Human Trafficking  *Labor  *Domestic Servitude *Sex.

Central Oregon  

 Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans 

Fast forward to this bright Saturday 2014 morning where COOATH Director, Nita and her husband Dan Belles, spoke to 30 people. As at that first event, today all ages & stages were represented -retired, young professionals, single Moms & Dads, stay at home parents, Widows, students, entrepreneurs, Faith based & secular. We came, pulled by  one common concern: What can we do? 

 Nita Belles  and a giant army have worked tirelessly for years to recover missing & exploited children.  In 2006 Clackamas County (Oregon) Marshall Bickford asked her to begin an anti-trafficking chapter in Central Oregon.  Since then, she has continued to Volunteer full-time with COOATH, OATH, and partner with the  Center for Missing & Trafficked Children . 

In 2000, Chris Smith – House of Representatives coauthored the first  Trafficking Victims Protection Act. In 2009 the first Oregon Anti Trafficking Senate Bill was passed.  Senator Tim Knopp  has worked tirelessly with Nita and so many more to bring awareness and victims rights to Oregon. Human trafficking Bills –

At the end of this post you’ll find the body of the most recent newsletter from the Director. It’s included  so you’ll know why I encourage you to support this group and a new opportunity to serve. Proven, organized, well thought out, with many opportunities to serve in our community right here. Right now.  ~~~ 

Nita is the first to say her mission is two-fold; To raise awareness and Advocate in order to “Slave proof Central Oregon”



Why should you get involved?

*almost every sex trafficked case is a local, state or national citizen. People you may know personally.

*the first Oregon FBI investigated case was in Sunriver, (Yes, bucolic Sunriver Oregon) for horrific domestic servitude-abuse.

*most victims today are lured on line.

*there is something that even you can do! 🙂  Keep reading!


How can you get involved?  I’m glad you asked!

*Vote! Vote! Vote! Call, write, email your Representative that you support legislation(s), laws, funding for anti-Human trafficking.

*TAKE ACTION! PRAY! Let’s be clear – OATH-COOATH is not a faith-based organization nor is a ‘Faith affiliation’ required. (I am a faith-based person so prayer is always my Go To.) What’s yours?

*Volunteer!  In 2012 Jan Swander became the Right Hand Woman of COOATH. She has spoken to groups, ‘campaigned’ for anti-trafficking, organized speakers for quarterly meetings and generally raised awareness in our community. Unfortunately, due to an accident she’ll not be available to serve any longer in this capacity. The young woman assisting with other responsibilities went and had a lovely healthy baby! (Congrats JOJO!) 😉 Thank you Jan for your Vision and servant’s heart!

Oregonians Against Human Trafficking


*Can you step up? Can you help?

How about as an Admin. Assistant?  Webmaster? Bookkeeper? Lobby for Legislation? Start an Anti Human trafficking club in your middle or high school?

Or could you help set up events? Run errands? Share missing child posters? Work on the sticker program? Serve refreshments at events? Catalog research? Coordinate Volunteers? Send out the Newsletter? How’s your artwork-graphic design skill?


There ‘s more on the ‘wish list’ and they are very open to ideas to utilize YOUR talents. Please email  for more information. She’ll be happy to work with you to find your fit.


Get involved. Guarantee, there’s something for you.


Note from Nita!
In anti-human trafficking work there are many highs and lows. I will confess, there are days I have complained and shook my fist at my maker.  Some days it just “ain’t purdy.”
But there are some really fun and good days too. I would like to share with you a particularly lovely day for me recently. 
At a local middle school, one of the parents arranged for me to do an anti-trafficking presentation to all the 8th graders at the middle school.The lunchroom was all set up and as the students filed in, I could see some were nervous, some were excited and some were so occupied with the friend sitting next to them that they hardly cared what this presentation was about. (That would have been me at that age!)They were a well-informed group with great questions. They listened attentively and were totally engaged in the information. At the end of the presentation, about 15-20 students came to ask questions or thank me for the presentation. Wow, kids nowadays! They’re pretty great if you ask me!Two 8th grade girls came up to tell me they have started a club at their middle school and next year, they will start an anti-human trafficking club at their high school. They went on and on about the ideas they had in their heads to raise awareness in their schools and in the community. Wow, kids nowadays! They’re pretty great.As I looked around the room, I my heart was full. I knew from stories I’d heard from teachers before and after the presentation that some of the students were at a high risk to be trafficked. Yet as I saw each student fully engaged in the message, they asked, “How can I help stop human trafficking in my backyard?” I knew in my heart of hearts that there were kids in that room who would not be trafficked in the next few years because of that morning.
Wow.What I did in presenting to the middle schoolers wasn’t heroic, didn’t require the intelligence of a brain surgeon, and honestly didn’t require anything except a heart that cares and some preparation. And we can each do something to stop or prevent trafficking within our skill-set and sphere of influence.Do you want to make a difference in the lives of others? Are you interested in learning more about human trafficking in our backyard? To register email or
P.S. If you would like such a presentation at your middle or high school please email me at
Nita Belles


Link up to resources!

In Our Backyard This Facebook page keeps you up to date on trainings, volunteer opportunities & more.

Central Oregon OATH – Fighting Human Trafficking in Our Cities

Oregon Oath

National Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking

KlaasKIDS Search Center for Missing & Trafficked Children 

House of Engedi

Click any of the above links to learn more. Do you have a story to add or promote? We’d love to hear.

Until next time, Shandra (Central Oregon Oregonians Against Human Trafficking; 6 words) 🙂

(Originally written-scheduled for April 18, 2014 the training was rescheduled for June 7, 2014 & updated) Thanks for reading!

2 Replies to “Six Word Sunday – COOATH”

  1. Thank you for bringing attention to and calling for help with this devastating problem, which i believe is yet more evidence that we are living in the End Times, when wickedness shall increase. Tampa, where I live, is extremely high in trafficking rates also. Praying for all the victims and for these horrific crimes to stop.
    God bless,


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