A WORD FROM OUR FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, COURTNEY ALBERT
It is hard to believe that we are already almost halfway through 2023. Give Way to Freedom is excited and proud of all the work we have accomplished so far this year, from co-facilitating a nationwide 3 part webinar for Law Enforcement on human trafficking and its intersection with intimate partner violence to our work on the Bay Area Trafficking Coalition’s airport initiative, to partnering with the Red Sand Project for community awareness events, to directly responding to and serving the needs of survivors and to turning our focus inward on the creation of a new website and messaging for the foundation. We hope you enjoy reading about our hard work. As always, a big thank you to our wonderful and supportive board members and to our hard-working summer interns. Happy Summer!
RAPID RESPONSE SUPPORT SYSTEM (RRSS)
So far in 2023, our RRSS directly serviced 14 survivors in some capacity, mainly temporary shelter, food, phones and sundry supplies. Eleven were female, two male, and one trans female. Three were black. Three were Hispanic. Within this group of survivors, of interest is that we serviced a family of four, mostly for housing – mom, dad, teen daughter and a younger brother and had to, due to extreme safety concerns and lack of any other option, help them for a month. We worked very closely with the northern Vermont Case Manager, Katie, on this situation. We have debriefed with the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services about this case and they are reviewing other options so as to prevent this type of situation from reoccurring. For the first time ever we have expended our OVC Victims’ of Crime Act funds before the end of the fiscal year.
Our interns this summer are Emma Destito and Alexandra (Alli) Silva. Emma just finished her Sophomore year at American and is transferring to Cornell in the fall to do their government and women and gender and studies program. Alli attends Champlain and will be graduating 2024 with a major in social work and minor in social justice. They have gotten off to a great start. Emma has started organizing a July 20th Red Sand event in Brattleboro and is in the midst of promoting it. Both are going to streamline and “file” our PowerPoint slides so we are more efficient for putting together upcoming trainings. They will be getting multi-purpose campus-wide educational day and awareness event planned for Champlain College in the fall, as well as do a little social media and get a listserv going for our newsletters.
We held a Bennington Red Sand Project event and the community there was very supportive. The Southern Vermont Case Manager, Zoe, was present and we were able to hold it at the Bennington Free Library for a nominal fee. We are keeping with the same effective format of showing videos including Rachel the survivor’s self-told story, informational clips of what human trafficking is, and case examples, followed by group discussion and of course the art installation.
Partnership with Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition
It has been validating and a pleasure to have been working with the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition for a year now. We were lucky to have our former staff person and current colleague, Erin Albright, recommend us into the arena of assisting them with their Airport Initiative. It is very important to have some practically minded approaches to our work, and training/bringing awareness to another group of frontline professionals is extremely worthwhile. We have hard discussions and have put together messaging for this economic sector (airports and associated businesses) that is not sensationalized and is correct and factual. We presented at the South West American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE) conference in Monterey in January and the Northeast Chapter of American Association of Airport Executives (NECAAAE) in Hershey in March, and we continue to build communications with the national AAAE.
The Freedom Network
The Freedom Network continues to be our conduit for keeping a national presence and network thriving. Edith is in her second year of a two year tenure on their steering committee and continues to assistance with organizing their conference which is now attended by over 600 people. The conference this past spring “Centering Survivors & Impacted Communities” promoted forward thinking and equity. The Freedom Network continually prioritizes survivor engagement and has a very robust staff at this point, we are proud to have been and be a part of its growth and success.
The Vermont Task Force opted to not pursue more federal funding but just as much effort and work is still happening with the help of the dedicated stakeholders from many disciplines, including law enforcement and service providers, that have prioritized the issue of human trafficking. Edith is currently co-chairing the Training & Outreach Committee and the Labor Committee she sits on continues to meet monthly and collaborate on proactively decreasing the potentiality of cases and being very prepared should a case present.
The Dutchess County Task Force, with Courtney’s help, has gotten re-engaged. She submitted a Proposed Scope of work for a few trainings and will assist them in their anti-trafficking efforts as a consultant on cases.
We have had several great trainings this year. Courtney did a very well-received three session webinar training with Chief David Ryan at the beginning of the year for Law Enforcement Training & Technical Assistance Consortium (LETTAC). It was well organized and attended by three hundred professionals all who had to commit to all three sessions, which were: Human Trafficking & Intimate Partner Violence: Intersectionality and the Importance of a Multidisciplinary Approach, Human Trafficking & Intimate Partner Violence: Complexity in Identification and Victim Disclosure and the third, Human Trafficking & Intimate Partner Violence and Trauma-Informed Screening, Interviewing, Survivor Support and Collaboration.
The Vermont Training and Outreach Committee started up Multi-Disciplinary Team trainings again and the first was in Bennington on May 9th and it had over 40 attendees. Edith has again trained up VT 211 staff, for new staff and with current trends, a private EMS company based in VT, and a private security firm that provides officers to hospitals. We are looking forward to our MDT training in Brattleboro in July and are working on plans for a third in the northern part of the State.
Thank you for your interest and support of our work.