Katie Beauregard, Contributing Writer
Wednesday night marked the second anniversary of the Freedom Café, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and resources to take action against child sex trafficking by setting out to raise $5,000 with the help of non-profit organization Love 146, local music and live poetry readings.
“I think as a whole this is a great idea,” said University of New Hampshire alumnus Aiden McMahon. “I’m really happy with how the momentum has grown.”
McMahon is one of many who have watched this non-profit café start as a small project and turn into an organization that has not only helped its own cause, but raised roughly $15,000 for other groups with similar goals. Board Coordinator Michael D’Angelo had a lot to say about the history, progress and future objectives of the Freedom Café.
“We’re inspired by this cause of modern day slavery and felt that it was something we wanted to do something about,” D’Angelo said. “The growth is big and I think we’re going in a great direction.”
As D’Angelo busily worked on sound check and setting up the stage, the Freedom Café continued to fill with locals like David Tarushka, a senior who read some of his poetry and live music from A Friendly Advocate, a local band.
“It’s just a nice thing to participate in,” said Mike Rieder, one of A Friendly Advocate’s members. “It’s a great place and a great concept.”
The objective of the Freedom Café’s two-year anniversary fundraiser was not only to reach its goal, but also to spread the word of future endeavors that its volunteers and planning team have in store for UNH.
In March, David Batstone, a sex trafficking advocate and human rights leader, will be speaking in the MUB. In April, the MUB will be featuring the UN Box Project—an interactive exhibit that was displayed in London during the 2012 Olympics.
“It’s something you can walk into,” D’Angelo said. “It looks like a giant gift box from the outside but when you go into it, you see the stories of people who were lured into slavery.”
As more and more customers, musicians and artists filled the café, not only were conversations rising, but the amount of profits working towards the overall goal were rising as well. Katzmann Dental Office, located in Dover, was there to match all of the proceeds of the evening.
“The more I learn about [sex trafficking], the more compelled I am to stay involved with it,” Rieder said. “The whole concept of the Freedom Café is just really amazing.”