Kiwanis STAR Club

During the 22-23 Kiwanis year, the Kiwanis Club of Placerville, lead by 2022-2023 President Bob Verzello, took a deep dive in the issue of child sex trafficking – the activity of coercing young people into prostitution for the economic benefit of another person or party. 

They had guest speakers that included law enforcement (El Dorado County Sheriff, El Dorado County District Attorney, Sacramento City Police Department and FBI Regional Task Force), several non-profit organizations working on the issue, Superintendent of Schools, and County Counsel.

They learned the following:

  • Trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the world.
  • The United States is the largest consumer of child sex trafficking in the World.
  • The process of identifying, grooming, and recruiting young people for a life of prostitution mostly happens online – through social media, online video gaming, and text messaging.
  • Much of the marketing of sex trafficking also happens online.
  • The average age of a child entering sex trafficking/coerced prostitution is 12-years old. 
  • Traffickers prey on the vulnerabilities of children – children from dysfunctional families or the foster care system, children with esteem issues, LGBTQ+ children, developmentally disabled children, poor and immigrant children, and children of color
  • The problem is multi-faceted and there are many parts that need to be addressed with additional resources.

The Response: Bob reached out to 2022-2023 Kiwanis Division 44 Lt. Governor Gail Cirata, to make combatting child sex trafficking a Division 44 signature project. The effort caught the attention of 2022-2023 Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha Governor Valerie Brown-Klingelhoefer who suggested that a separate Kiwanis Club be formed to have a greater longevity than just a signature project, allowing us to engage other clubs as members and allowing the club to engage with resources available from Kiwanis International.

Thus, the Kiwanis STAR Club was formed.

Kiwanis STAR club is a singular focused club to create awareness amongst our young people about Child Sex Trafficking and contributing to prevention through education resources, interruption through sponsoring law enforcement resource, and rehabilitation of trafficked children through housing, counseling education and employment resources.