Fighting for the Freedom of All: Lynne Starling Dowell
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been right in the middle of Dressember and suddenly found yourself running low on ideas? How do you stay creative, and how do you engage the people around you, all while trying to get your message out? If your hand shot up as quickly as mine did I’d like to introduce you to Lynne Starling Dowell.
Lynne comes from The Woodlands, Texas, but now resides in Houston, where she works for a company called Boosterthon. They strive to strengthen schools by helping them raise much-needed funds, and they share Lynne’s passion to change the world. If you were to look at her 2017 Dressember campaign page you would notice two things: she has a fierce heart for this cause, and she is defiant in the face of injustice, standing firm in the hope that there will one day be freedom for all. Despite the fact that she only just discovered Dressember last year, Lynne was one of our top fundraisers for this campaign. However, you won’t find an inflated ego here; she describes her experience as a humbling honour and not something that she takes lightly. With this being her first year as an advocate, Lynne did not simply accept the challenge, she wholeheartedly embraced it and everything that came with it. There were some surprises that arose along the way, one of them being that trying to find a dress that is gym appropriate can become almost as complicated as working out in one!
If you were to look at her 2017 Dressember campaign page you would notice two things: she has a fierce heart for this cause, and she is defiant in the face of injustice, standing firm in the hope that there will one day be freedom for all.
It’s not always all roses when it comes to advocacy, and Lynne admits that there were some days when it was challenging to post regularly or when the motivation to keep advocating slumped because donations slowed to a crawl. Luckily for all of us who have ever experienced the same thing, this passionate advocate has offered to fill us in on some of the fundraising and advocacy tips and tricks she used to get through the dry spells:
- Make it personal and be bold! Don’t be afraid to speak up even if it might make people uncomfortable because chances are that means you’re saying something they need to hear.
- Talk about trafficking in your own city. Point back to local stories and statistics. Show people that trafficking can happen right in their own backyard.
- Share stats from Polaris or other reliable organizations or studies against human trafficking and related issues.
- Offer challenges to your community such as matching goals, asking for $5 gifts gifts on December 5th, etc.
- Ask strangers to take your photo and then explain to them what you’re doing and why you're doing it!
- Get creative with your own style challenges. Maybe offer to dress as a superhero or Disney princess or another fun character if anyone donates more than $50 to the cause. (side note: this is a tried and true method)
Throughout the month of December, there were many memorable moments such as when Lynne wore 4 different dresses in 48 hours for a wedding (talk about a quick change!). However, these memorable moments weren’t all style -- related. One of the biggest “ah-ha” moments during her campaign was when she took a picture outside of a brothel, a massage parlor with mattresses by the dumpster. People began to reach out and ask her about the laws in Houston against trafficking, and it opened up amazing opportunities to not only advocate and open the eyes of those who were blind to the injustices in their own city but to also empower people to go out and learn more about the subject.
Dressember isn’t the only time that Lynne gets dressed up though. As of February 2018, she wears the crown of Mrs. Texas International and plans to keep using her dresses and her newly gained influence as a platform to continue advocating against human trafficking.
Dressember isn’t the only time that Lynne gets dressed up though. In February 2018, she earned the crown of Mrs. Texas International and plans to keep using her dresses and her newly gained influence as a platform to continue advocating against human trafficking. Over the course of the pageant process, Lynne has been able to take her passion and fire into countless interviews and public appearances to advocate against human trafficking. Yet despite the fame, she said that her biggest motivator to continue advocating is her daughter. Becoming a mother turned her passion from a flame into a wildfire. The inherent desire to protect children changed her fight drastically and made her realise that as adults, we have an obligation to protect children, and as citizens, we should do the same for those stuck in the injustice that we can’t imagine.
The inherent desire to protect children changed her fight drastically and made her realise that as adults, we have an obligation to protect children, and as citizens, we should do the same for those stuck in the injustice that we can’t imagine.
From dressing up as Cinderella, to going to the gym every morning in a dress, to raising her voice about human trafficking in her community, city and state, Lynne has taken her defiant hope and spread it to those around her. And she hopes that through her fight she can encourage you to keep spreading your defiant hope to those around you.
To learn more about Lynne's advocacy journey through her role as Mrs. Texas International, watch the video below.
This year, do something different. Take on the Dressember style challenge and pledge to wear a dress or tie every day in December. You'll challenge yourself, learn more about the issue of human trafficking and have a viable impact on those trapped in slavery around the world.
Registration opens October 1st, 2018
About the Author
Katherina Toews sees the world mostly from between the ears of a horse, and wouldn’t want it any other way. She believes that there is nothing that can’t be fixed by sharing tea, chocolate chip cookies, and a good black and white movie with friends. Katherina is currently the Head Wrangler at a year-round camp and retreat centre, teaching people about horses and helping them to overcome their fears.