(COLORADO SPRINGS) — TESSA hosted a free community skate event on Monday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to raise awareness about human trafficking. Admission was free at Skate City Austin Bluffs and Skate City Academy with the only cost being skate rentals.

“And so, let’s get the families together and bring the awareness out, not just the fact of, you know, all the negativity that can go along with human trafficking,” said President of Skate City, Jeff Ingrum. “Let’s try and do something positive where we can get some exposure and some awareness.”

TESSA advocates were at the event to educate the community and promote awareness.

“TESSA will have a table here tonight, will be here from 6 to 9 and we are really just going to be spreading information,” said TESSA Human Trafficking Program Manager, Bailey Thiry. “Giving out TESSA’s information, some pamphlets, some informational brochures about TESSA as a whole. As well as, human trafficking, signs just to look for [in] survivors, risks as well as safety tips and that does sound scary for a lot of people because it is such an intense issue. But we really want to make it family friendly because this is such a family-friendly place.”

TESSA had a table filled with pamphlets to give out on Monday evening. Courtesy of Bailey Thiry.

TESSA’s website shares that its mission is “to help individuals and their children find safety and well-being in challenging communities to end sexual and family violence.”

“TESSA works with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking,” Thiry said. “We’ve been around… going into our 46th year, and the human trafficking program is newer, it’s only been around for a couple of years.”

This is one of the several events TESSA has done in January which is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

“We’ve done a lot of different events as… TESSA as a whole, but now just kind of really saying this is what our program does specifically,” Thiry said. “This is the month where we really were wanting to spread all this awareness as much as possible.”

Donations were encouraged at the event and Skate City shared they will match up to $2,500 in public donations for TESSA.

“TESSA is going to handle that as far as the money side of it and the collections and so forth,” Ingrum said. “We’ll have some staff in here to assist them with that. But whatever it is, they collect Skate City will match, and then we have a minimum threshold there too. So, they’re going to they’re going to get some decent coin out of the deal.”

TESSA shared how donations help the nonprofit, they also accept monetary donations online.

“Donations are such a huge, huge part of everything that we do,” Thiry said. “We are primarily government funded through grants, but also the donations really allow us to ramp up what we can do, give those to specific needs that we have for our survivors and our clients. So we’re super excited, any money that comes in goes straight back to those survivors in the community.”