Grace Bible College sophomore Kate Shellenbarger has been awarded the Citizens Citation on behalf of the Wyoming Police Department. Shellenbarger comes from Lima, Ohio, and is majoring in Human services with a concentration in criminal justice. Shellenbarger was uncertain in her college choice but chose Grace Bible College because of the community. “I felt so drawn here and my money situation was really hard and it all worked out perfectly. I knew that’s where I was supposed to be,” Shellenbarger said.
Shellenbarger was honored by the Wyoming Police Department in front of the Wyoming community, firefighters, and police officers of Grand Rapids at the Senior Center on Thursday, February 23. She was recognized for her distinguished service in the community and for teaming up with the Wyoming Police Department. Shellenbarger was surprised to receive the Citizens Citation. “I wasn’t expecting to win anything. It was a really good experience because I got to hear all the cops’ stories,” Shellenbarger said.
Shellenbarger has a passion for bringing awareness to human trafficking. When she and a few friends noticed some strange activity at a local massage spa, she called the human trafficking hotline but didn’t have any hard evidence of illegal activity.
“If wanted to prove something I would have to make sure that I had gone in or at least knew someone who went in,” Shellenbarger said. The human trafficking hotline recommended she call the police about any strange activity. “They sent me to the investigator Lieutenant McGuffey who is very passionate about trying to end human trafficking,” Shellenbarger said.
The two formed a relationship and continued to meet to figure out ways to solve the problem of human trafficking that has been spreading in the United States. “We just kind of vaguely made out a plan and continually met and we started gathering pop cans from the police departments and students,” she said. Shellenbarger and her friends raised almost 400 dollars through their can drives. “Lieutenant McGuffey got a team of police officers from different counties and we all came together to buy soap from the SOAP project,” Shellenbarger said.
“The lady who runs the SOAP project, Theresa, is a survivor from human trafficking. She makes bars of soap and then puts the human trafficking hotline number on them and puts them in hotel rooms,” she said. Shellenbarger, along with the Police department, and her friends all came together and brought not only soap but also lip balm and put them in different hotels of Grand Rapids. “We are hoping to continue to do it every year,” she said.
Shellenbarger also said that she has plans to continue to work with Lieutenant Maguffee and the police department and is hoping for an internship. She is also a part of the student government and works in the enrollment office. “I like being involved, so anything I can get my hands on I like to do,” she said.
(Written by Montae Harris, Student)