TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — On Oct. 17 the Soroptimist International of Truckee Donner (SITD) honored Bobbi Johansen, the 30th annual recipient of the Soroptimist Ruby Award (formerly Woman of Distinction).
This distinguished award recognizes women who, through their professional and/or personal efforts, are making a difference in the lives of women or girls. Their work has made significant impact, and also inspires and encourages other women.
This year’s recipient, Bobbi Johansen, has made a significant impact in the area of sex trafficking locally and at a multi-state level with the organization of Courage Worldwide.org. Domestic sex trafficking of minors is a prominent and growing issue in the greater Sacramento area. Its location between Seattle and Las Vegas, and the short drive to the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as large cities in Southern California, make it a prime spot for the sale and trafficking of minors.
In the last several years, a local FBI task force has recovered more than 300 girls being sold for sex; the youngest being only 11-years-old. However, due to the fact this is such a hidden crime, this number grossly understates the size of the problem. Bobbi Johansen has demonstrated her commitment to fight against this unforgivable crime against women and girls. She works at a full-time capacity without compensation or formal employment for her services. She primarily works closely with survivors at a Courage Houselocated in the Sierra foothills.
Bobbi and her husband, Leif Johansen, have owned a successful business in Truckee for more than 30 years. In her role as a business owner, she has compassionately embraced employees and their families by assisting many wives to learn English, getting medical care when needed and protecting those who were abused.
Their pastor of Sierra Bible Church, Wayne Hoag, said, “Bobbi is one of the most generous people I know and when I speak of generosity it applies to her time, talents and resources … many in our church have received anonymous financial gifts during times of need that had Bobbi’s fingerprints all over them.”
This year, two guest speakers highlighted our celebration. The first guest was former Chief of Police Nicholas Sensley, who was unable to attend in person due to his heavy schedule. Instead, he attended via Skype as a surprise for all who were there.
Nick Sensley has known Bobbi for several years and applauded her accomplishments with a written referral for this nomination, especially noting that Bobbi was instrumental in re-kindling his fire to fight this war against sex trafficking. He was honored to be asked to participate in the event and was met with a loud round of applause. He communicated that not only was he proud to recommend her for this award but that he is proud to have her as a co-laborer and inspiration in the battle to free women and girls from the bondage of modern-day slavery.
The second guest speaker is an amazing young woman, “Liz,” who is living proof that the one-to-one and face-to-face efforts at Courage House are effective and extremely valuable. She described herself, not as a victim or a survivor, but as an over-comer!
Three years ago as a result of seeing the video posted on the website entitled “Believe in Me,” she contacted Courage Worldwide founder, Jenny Williamson. Jenny, immediately went to action providing shelter and protection. Incidentally, that video was filmed right here in Truckee.
2012 Woman of Distinction recipient Phebe Bell was there to introduce and share some important facts about Bobbi’s passion on this journey. Bobbi has joined a group of truly remarkable women in our community. SITD is proud to thoughtfully honor each and every recipient.
Soroptimist International of Truckee Donner (SITD) is a volunteer service organization of business and professional women dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in the local community and throughout the world. SITD is part of an international organization consisting of more than 80,000 members in 120 countries committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realize aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls through a global network of members and international partnerships. For more information about SITD please visit www.sitruckeedonner.com.
“Bobbi is one of the most generous people I know and when I speak of generosity it applies to her time, talents and resources.”
Pastor of Sierra Bible Church