Phoenix Rising, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support, counseling and education to victims of human trafficking, will hold a fundraising night at the Panera Bread in Bowling Green on Nov. 14 from 4 to 8 p.m.
Panera Bread, located at 1770 Campbell Lane, will donate 20 percent of the proceeds earned to Phoenix Rising when customers show a flier when they pay. They can also use the promo code “FUND” when they order online. The flier is on Phoenix Rising’s website and social media pages, and it contains information about the fundraising event.
Azurdee Garland, founder and executive director of Phoenix Rising, said money earned from the event will go toward the creation of workbooks for trauma victims and funding Phoenix Rising’s programs, including programs for at-risk high school and elementary school students.
The money will also go toward funding of Rachel’s House, an eight-bed facility Phoenix Rising wants to open that will provide counseling and care to juvenile female domestic sex trafficking victims and commercially sexually exploited children. Garland said even if customers buy something as inexpensive as a cup of coffee, the money will help victims.
“They don’t have anywhere to go, and they need services,” Garland said. “That’s what your cup of coffee or your danish or your bowl of soup just helped provide.”
Garland said Phoenix Rising hosts an annual conference about human trafficking, and it covers “heavy material,” including “the reality of human trafficking” and how it takes place in the United States, Kentucky and Bowling Green. There will also be discussion of how to support victims, how to provide services and what it looks like to walk alongside victims as they transform into survivors. She said the fundraising night will provide a less stressful atmosphere for members of the community to learn about human trafficking and Phoenix Rising.
“We really want people to know that human trafficking exists,” Garland said. “There are victims here in the community. There are survivors in the community, and we are a resource for both.”
She said fundraising nights benefit both nonprofits and businesses because they allow them to gain more awareness in the community.
“Community partnerships are what keeps nonprofits alive and active,” Garland said. “Both parties gain publicity. Both parties have new individuals coming, either because they know one party or they’ve heard of one party, and they want to support the causes.”
Phoenix Rising board member Gloria Cox set up the fundraising night at Panera. She received an email in late August saying Panera Bread was now doing fundraising nights with nonprofits, and she submitted to have a fundraising night the same day she received the email.
Phoenix Rising has monthly fundraising nights, and it has held them at restaurants including Blaze Pizza and Chipotle Mexican Grill. This will be its first time holding a fundraising night at Panera Bread.
“We’re fortunate enough here in Bowling Green to have a lot of different partners within the community who are willing to donate a portion of the proceeds to an organization such as ours,” Cox said.
Phoenix Rising will set up a table at Panera Bread during the fundraising night and, though they are not permitted to approach customers about the organization or hand out fliers, they are permitted to answer any questions customers may have and direct them to the flier on their website and social media pages. Cox said this will give them the chance to educate members of the community about Phoenix Rising.
“Just seeing other members of the community come together to support your local nonprofit – it just speaks volumes, and it really encourages people to get out there and help,” Cox said.
Reporter Olivia Mohr can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]