Introducing: Stephanie Gilliam, CMSHTC Board Member

Hi everyone! This is my very first blog post so we will see how this goes…

My name is Stephanie and I am the treasurer for the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition (CMSHTC). I have been a board member for about 2 ½ years now.

I am originally from a small town in southeast Missouri called Bonne Terre. I came to Columbia in 2005 to go to Mizzou, ended up getting a job here after school and now call Columbia “home.” I am a registered veterinary technician at the University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. My specialties are neurology/neurosurgery and small animal physical rehabilitation. I absolutely LOVE my job. I feel blessed to be able to help those who aren’t able to help themselves. I work full time in the teaching hospital but I also teach an online course, Clinical Neurology, for veterinary technicians. I am also a wife and a mommy. Kyle and I have been married for 5 years now and we have one son, Sawyer, who is 2 years old. We are expecting another little boy in February 2013. We have 3 canine “sons;” Remington (Labrador), Payton (pit bull mix) and Harley (Bichon Frise). (Apparently I’m only meant to raise boys). My family is my world. I can’t imagine going through life without them.

I originally heard of human trafficking about 4 years ago at my church, Christian Chapel, here in Columbia. Our pastor, John Battaglia, is very involved in anti-human trafficking work. It was human trafficking awareness week and we had a speaker come to church and talk about human trafficking. I had never even heard of human trafficking and I was so shocked to hear that not only was it going on but it was happening in my area, in my own backyard. I went to a few other events that week–a concert and a seminar given by David Batstone, author of the book “Not For Sale.” During the seminar I could tell that God was calling me to do something. I remember thinking, “Come on God, I’m a vet tech. Send me to the Humane Society where I know what I’m doing. I’m not qualified to fight human trafficking!” Well, needless to say He didn’t budge. He kept telling me that this is what He wanted me to do. So, after the seminar I went to Pastor John and just said “I want to do something.”

We started a “compassion team” at Christian Chapel that focused on anti-human trafficking efforts. We have since done projects such as promoting fair trade products, serving at a local children’s home and other charities, as well as organizing the annual “Freedom Walk” every spring. The Freedom Walk is a 5K that supports CMSHTC as well as an international anti-human trafficking organization. Pastor John also told me about the coalition and encouraged me to attend some of the meetings. I was so impressed by the work that the coalition does that I became a board member about 1 year later.

I love being involved with the CMSHTC. I am about the least qualified person ever to be doing this work, so if I can do it, anyone can. I encourage anyone that has a heart for this topic to just jump in and get involved. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. There is something that everyone can do. Every step towards ending modern day slavery in our lifetime is a big one. It’s going to take all of us as a together but I know we can do it!


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