Greenlight Operation Holding 5K Fundraiser for Restoration Home Project

To benefit human trafficking survivors in Central Pennsylvania, Greenlight Operation will be hosting a 5K Race to Restoration Event to assist in fundraising for their Restoration Home Project for women in Cumberland County.

Dylan Bowman, Guest Contributer

Legs are on fire; lungs are ready to burst; many don’t know if they can go on. The temporary pain will help the lives of innumerable others. Determination is in the air; determination to help make a difference.

Slowing down is an option, but many choose to run on, pain shooting through their muscles; every sinew burning with the strain and sweaty breaths rolling from each mouth, protesting that the journey has just begun.

Hearts continue pounding with the intensity of the run, and that’s just how the Race to Restoration started: with hearts seeking change beating wildly.

To benefit human trafficking survivors in Central Pennsylvania, Greenlight Operation will be hosting a 5K Race to Restoration Event to assist in fundraising for their Restoration Home Project for women in Cumberland County.

One of the reasons Central Pennsylvania is known to be a major center for human trafficking is because of its major highways and infrastructure that allow for traffickers to get onto the road and disappear. That is why awareness is considered necessary in the surrounding communities of Central Pennsylvania and Greenlight Operation was established. 

As their first annual 5K Race to Restoration Fundraising Event, Greenlight Operation is expecting a decently sized crowd, but are looking forward to the coming years with the potential of an annual spring race event being set. 

“It’s a first-year event so it’s always up in the air,” said Operation Coordinator Anna Knaub. “With weather and COVID, you kind of never know who’s going to show up.”

Greenlight Operation, as well as their sponsors and other vendors, will also be attending the event. 

Past events of Greenlight Operation have seen increases in volunteers and attendees. During Greenlight Operation’s Art Festival of 2020, attendance reached approximately 500, an increase from a previous year of only 250 attendees at the same festival.

The event is scheduled to take place at Adventure Park, 1775 Lambs Gap Rd., Mechanicsburg, and is scheduled for May 22 at 9:30 a.m. A virtual race is scheduled for May 15-23 for those who are unable to attend the in-person event. 

The race features a one-mile loop that will be taken 3.1 times. According to Knaub, the trail is a part of Adventure Park property and “is very beautiful and accessible.” 

Knaub went on to explain the goal behind the 5K Race to Restoration Event.

“We are a little more than 80% of the way to meeting our fundraising goal for our first major milestone of $500,000,” said Knaub.

Past events of Greenlight Operation, including last year’s Art Festival, which raised approximately $10,000, have greatly assisted the organization in moving forward towards the Restoration Home.

The three-year fundraising goal that had been set would be “more than sufficient”, according to Knaub, to meet their needs and what they were looking for. Due to real-estate developments in the past few years, it is looking like that number may have to be raised.

“Real estate market in three years has been absolutely insane,” said Knaub, “So that is still more than enough. We are just hoping and praying that the right property comes along.”

Greenlight Operation was formed in May of 2018 with the goal to “eradicate and lessen trafficking as a whole” and educate communities about the existence and signs of trafficking. This is done in great part by the leadership team at Greenlight Operation.

The leadership team works closely with others in Central Pennsylvania as well.

Greenlight Operation works closely with Christian Life Assembly, Pathway Community Church, Hope-Inspire-Love, and other members of the community, including citizens and legislators. They spread awareness and educate people about trafficking in Central Pennsylvania, what to look for, and what to do if something is witnessed.

Volunteers appear to present support to the Greenlight Operation team. 

“Volunteers are truly the backbone to Greenlight Operation and its mission,” Knaub said.

Volunteers such as Courtney Etzweiler have their own stories about the organization.

“We heard about Greenlight Operation at our church, Christian Life Assembly, in May of 2018,” said Etzweiler. “They were just building their team. My daughters were invited to a meeting and I was intrigued by what they were sharing.”

Etzweiler continued.

“My two daughters and I volunteered at the first Art Festival in 2018 and we have been participating ever since!” said Etzweiler.

Greenlight Operation’s mission statement, “Prevention, Collaboration, Restoration,” displays the work that is put in by leadership and volunteers alike to spread awareness of human trafficking and slavery in our own communities. Many are willing to listen and learn.

“I am passionate about this organization and the vision behind it!” Etzweiler said. “I have learned so much and unfortunately how it’s happening all around us, not just in other countries.  Awareness is key and there are many ways to get involved to help fight against modern-day slavery.” 

As of 2019, Pennsylvania ranks 9th in the number of reported cases of human trafficking, according to Greenlight Operation. This is an alarming development from 2018 in which Pennsylvania ranked 11th. Since then, there has only been a significant increase in reported cases.

Statistics of the FBI agree with those of Greenlight Operation. 

As of 2019, 1,883 cases of federal human trafficking were reported: 1,607 were in the category of commercial sex acts, and 274 were instances of involuntary servitude, according to the FBI. The FBI also acknowledges the steady increase of reported incidences in past years.

Knaub mentioned both the positives and negatives behind knowing these statistics.

“It’s both a good thing and a bad thing because it tells us people are becoming more aware and more educated and saying something, but it also means that we have that much more trafficking going on,” said Knaub.

One of the reasons behind the continued growth of trafficking is due to what is being trafficked…people.

“It’s the largest enterprise in the world,” said Knaub. “It beats out drug trafficking…it is the fastest growing criminal enterprise worldwide because, unlike drugs, humans can be used over and over again.”

Despite its rapid growth, the exact statistics of human trafficking are not well-known, even to leaders and organizations such as Greenlight Operation who combat it.

“It’s one of those things where we don’t know,” Knaub said. “We have people contact us almost weekly with situations, needing help.”

Some of those situations came from people at Greenlight Operation’s past fundraisers who approached those in the organization and said, ‘I know someone who is in a situation right now,’ or ‘I am being trafficked and didn’t know.’

These situations complicate the gathering of true statistics, according to Greenlight Operation.

“It takes a network to bring down a network,” Founder and CEO of Greenlight Operation Jordan Pine said in a statement.

Greenlight Operation was formed with a network of leadership aimed at this goal.

Greenlight Operation’s leadership includes Founder and CEO Jordan Pine, Communications Coordinator Jessica Barnett, Marketing and Development Coordinator Ben Byler, Volunteer Coordinator Katie Ibberson, and Operations Coordinator Anna Knaub. 

The organization’s network has continued educating and spreading awareness to communities and individuals in an attempt to end trafficking.

“Outside of the big events, we love to tell volunteers that if they want to be involved, we can help plug them in whether they have two hours a week, or two hours a month!” said Knaub. 

Many jobs are available to volunteers including becoming blog writers, seminar and training volunteers, and sharing Greenlight Operation’s posts on social media. 

To get involved, volunteer, learn more, or contact the Greenlight Operation team, visit their main page  or contact them on their About page

To report possible human trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text “BeFree” to 233733.