A grandma and a baker in Northern Minnesota heard about our film and contacted me about organizing a mini film festival featuring films on trafficking for her community in Hackensack, MN. When she saw our film, she decided to instead organize a two-day symposium centered around Sands of Silence and invite me, along with Virginia Isaias, be on the panel. She wrote: “Today, Sunday, my daughter, my grand-daughter, and I baked enough loaves of bread to pay for one of your flights. One loaf at a time.”
I told her how moved I was by that expression, and she decided to name her event “One Loaf At A Time Symposium on Sexual Violence and Trafficking”.

Minnesotta public gives a standing ovation at director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle and survivor Virginia Isaias. Foto credit: Jillian Gandsey
Sands of Silence in Minnesota
Virginia Isaias and Chelo after the screening of Sands of Silence to 450 people that filled in four screening rooms at a multiplex movie theater in Hackensack, MN, in spite of a snow storm.
One Loaf at a Time founder, Linnea Dietrich (right) with co founder Lynnette Dirks.

When I told her we would be flying from Yale University where we had a presentation the day before, people in her community were astounded. “Do they know where they are coming?” they asked. Hackensack has a Population of 313, according to Wikipedia. But they have a multiplex movie theater with four screening rooms for the summer season when tourists flock to the lakes. The symposium was held in April, and, in the midst of a snow storm, we had a full house with 450 people who came from the surrounding lake areas. Our largest screening ever! The second day we were on a panel with a judge, law enforcement, NGO leaders, and Native American leaders. A young woman who grew up in the community shared a powerful first-hand account of psychological manipulation and grooming that, according to the community “brought home the message that this problem was not remote news from a far-away land, but a very real threat at home.”

I was appalled by the number of people who spoke at the Q&A, or approached us with stories of sexual violence and trafficking among those living in remote, isolated communities.

After we left, they had a follow up meeting with 20 core people who committed to continue raising awareness with specific actions. I still get emails and Facebook comments on how much we have ignited awareness in their community and changed it forever.


  1. Chelo, Thank you for sharing this with me. I have not seen it before! Very well said! However, Linnea, the founder, is on the right, not on the left. Lynnette is on the left in that photo. And I continue to be thrilled by all you are accomplishing. I know we will meet again even if I have to fly to California to see you in your “down” time of which currently there appears to be none! Didn’t we have a great time last April?? So many astounding coincidences including you finding the grandma baker carving from Sweden in my home.
    Much love,

  2. Linnea, so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you on this. Thank you so much for the caption correction which I have now fixed. I hope all is well with your wonderful One Loaf At A Time organization! Much love to you and to all the northern Minnesota lakes folks that dared came out in the snow storm to overflow our screening and learn about sexual violence and trafficking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *