Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership by Kaumo Law.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to sit down with Christal Martin, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Sweetwater Against Trafficking. Christal started Sweetwater Against Trafficking to provide a local resource to fight against human trafficking and exploitation.
Christal was born and raised in Sweetwater County, and she has made it her responsibility to ensure the community is a safe place for everyone. Every person who Christal comes into contact with is met with a kind heart and understanding.
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Christal, why did you found Sweetwater Against Trafficking?
I began Sweetwater Against Trafficking because my family and I had gone through a situation where one of our children was groomed and sexually exploited online. We were completely broken at this time and looking for resources to help here in the state. Unfortunately, we were unable to find many resources.
Soon I reached out with my story and this is when our Co-Founder April Moreno contacted me. Soon we began trying to figure out what we needed to do in order bring more awareness and education to Human Trafficking and Exploitation hoping this could save another family from going through what we had just experienced.
How have you seen Sweetwater Against Trafficking transform since its inception?
Through the past year and a half we have grown through many struggles. It is never easy starting a new organization, however through our hard work and dedication to our cause, we have not only grown as individuals but we have grown as a family working towards a greater cause for our communities.
We have expanded this family to some really amazing and strong individuals that have shared many hours out of their own personal lives, selflessly, to help grow awareness and education in not just one community but three communities throughout the State of Wyoming. We went from two people volunteering for Sweetwater Against Trafficking to 29 volunteers including April and myself. We never thought we would be where we are today, and it is all thanks to our volunteers and the community being so supportive.
What does Sweetwater Against Trafficking have coming up?
We are extremely excited about what we have coming up this summer. Currently we are finalizing the finishing touches to the Rods and Rails Car Show event we have planned for June 15th that we have partnered up with Sleep in Heavenly Peace to run. This includes the annual Car Show, as it has been the previous years, the Rods and Rails Bed Races, and the Rods and Rails Sock Hop. We have had amazing committee and sponsor support this year to help us work on this event.
We also are in the process of setting up community youth days that will encourage youth to come together and create positive youth interactions and community. This will encourage our youth to gain social skills, break down vulnerabilities, build peer to peer support systems, and empower them to reach their fullest potential.
We also have two Slip in Slide events coming up on July 20 and August 24 in Green River.
How did you end up in Sweetwater County?
I was born and raised in here. I moved away a few times in my life but always found that I missed home and came back.
What is something unique about you?
I would say that something unique about me is that I see the good in everyone. Some of the same characteristics that I would say I may have is something that can be found in each individual. Sometimes they just need the tools to see it in themselves.
What are some of your hobbies?
Spending time with family and friends, planning and hosting get togethers and events, research, camping, and writing my book.
What is the book you’re writing about?
The book is about the traumas I faced in my life and the steps that help me lift this weight and become a stronger person.
I have only recently began the actual process of writing my book in the last few months. The thoughts behind it have actually been in the works for many years, where I would start writing then lose my focus, or it would transform into something where I would begin to doubt myself.
It was when people really started asking me about the ways I overcame the trials in my life and could never answer their questions on the spot that I decided I needed to start writing my book. I felt that if people were asking this then there must be a need to share this information and empower others to rise above the impact of trauma and know that these things do not have to define them.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I appreciate our community in so many ways. Honestly, I cry when I see all the good things that our communities do to make a difference, whether it be for one person or the community as a whole. We truly have so many loving and kind people who truly make our communities stand out above others that I have been in.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Be kind and walk in another’s shoes. This is when we truly find the beauty and value they offer this world.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
I would say my favorite place to be in Sweetwater County is the green belt. Just being able to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding mountains, listening to the river, and watching the wildlife gives me a sense of gratitude for how lucky we truly are.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse, or drive a car?
If I had a horse that would be my first choice. There are just so many places you can go. There is also nothing like spending time with such an elegant animal.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
I am a closet singer, so I would probably not be singing in front of people. If I did, I would sing Mariah Carey’s “Hero” or Tom Petty’s “I Wont Back Down”.
How would your friends describe you?
I actually had to ask them but they said that I am a very compassionate, honest, patient, and goofy person. Someone who puts others before myself, and that I am passionate. When I put my mind to something, I never look back, no matter how small and silly, or huge things, like moving mountains.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Having my children would of course be one of my proudest moments. However my proudest accomplishment is growing as an individual and believing in who I am. I told myself I would not fall into being a statistic after the things I have gone through. I continue to push myself in a positive and productive way.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
I would say Sandra Bullock. She has played many roles that I can relate to. As a woman, she is independent and strong and that is the encouraging light she shines on others, and that’s how I would hope she could reflect my character.
Why do you choose to continue living in Wyoming?
Wyoming is an amazing place, minus the cold winters. The people are amazing and we have so much natural beauty that I have yet to see anywhere else.