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The NCMEC Volunteer Support Group: Team HOPE

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Nov 10, 2021

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Being the parent or guardian of a child who goes missing or worse, has experienced sexual exploitation, can be extremely difficult to manage. How do you as a parent or guardian cope with a child who’s gone missing? How do you talk to, relate to, and support a child who has been sexually abused or exploited?  

It’s okay to not know the answers.  

That’s why the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) created Team HOPE.  

Hope is why we’re here. — NCMEC Motto 

What is Team HOPE? 

Team HOPE is a peer-support group comprised of all volunteers. This group is incredibly unique because all volunteers have either been missing or experienced sexual exploitation as a child, or one of their children was missing or sexually exploited. Either way, they are all survivors.  

Team HOPE started in 1998. Since then, they have trained more than 500 volunteers and helped over 102,000 people. The goal of Team HOPE is to provide support and to let those who are currently experiencing these issues know that they are not alone. 

How does Team HOPE help? 

When someone feels that they need support they can call (866) 305-HOPE (4673) and talk to a Team HOPE volunteer. The program is completely free and phone-based. Team HOPE can help in the following ways: 

-Provide a safe and compassionate space for family members of current victims or survivors themselves to reach out to.  

-Offer emotional support, helpful resources, and tools and try to empower the person calling. 

-Makes sure that the caller feels heard and knows that they are not alone. 

Volunteer Testimonials 

In a short video from NCMEC, volunteers explain how grateful they are for this wonderful program and how incredible it is to be able to use their own experiences to help others. Here’s what they said:  

“It’s good to know that you have people in this world who are willing to give up themselves to help you. I always think that is important when giving back and that’s what I want to do, I want to give back.” — Rebecca Hoskins

“Team HOPE has given me a voice; it’s given me the ability to be stronger and actually better for my child.” — Courtney Shaddox 

“There are people out there that can help you go through the darkest times to the bright light at the end, and that’s what it means to me.” — Kathlene Streight 

NCMEC Team Hope

HOPE Live 21 Event 

Every year NCMEC hosts HOPE Live, an event that celebrates the amazing work that NCMEC does every day and to promote awareness and recognition of the importance of missing and exploited children. HOPE Live 2021 was the second year the event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 event was hosted by Callahan Walsh, the son of NCMEC co-founder John Walsh.  

The event showcased what NCMEC does, stories from survivors, other inspirational speakers, recognized those who are still missing, music performances, and a thanks to NCMEC partners. Q5id, the creator of Q5id Guardian, was one of the partners recognized by NCMEC during the HOPE Live 21 event. 

Here’s where you can watch the HOPE Live 21 event recording to learn more about NCMEC, hear stories about missing and exploited children, and watch fantastic musical performances by KhalidLainey Wilson, and Shy Carter