The Official Quarterly Newsletter of Give Way to Freedom
January – March 2021
A WORD FROM OUR FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, COURTNEY ALBERT
The pandemic and the political climate have dramatically impacted everyone’s work over this past year including in the anti-human trafficking field. As we begin to anticipate an end to the pandemic and as things open and life returns to some form of normalcy, it will be interesting to see what the priorities will be nationally and within the federal government. There is talk of increased funding going to better housing options – fingers crossed! Immigration reform is another area where we hope to see positive change that decreases vulnerabilities to trafficking. We are ramping up our online and in person trainings and are excited to share with you all that GWTF is accomplishing.
RAPID RESPONSE SUPPORT SYSTEM (RRSS)
In the last quarter for 2020, RRSS directly serviced 9 survivors in some capacity, mainly temporary shelter, food, and sundry supplies. Eight were female and one was male, eight were white and one was Latina. In the first quarter of 2021, RRSS has not directly providing services, but has consulted on safety and logistics planning for three adult females. We continue to keep the lines of communication open with service providers and the two Vermont case managers.
Our intern Gabby Alexandrescu continues to do great work. She provided the subtitles translation and acted in a filmed training scenario (see details on project below in the Trafficking Training Simulations section) and has worked on a healthcare setting awareness poster. For poster finalization, we are now simply waiting on input and edits from the Director of the Forensic Nurse Program. We welcome Olivia (Liv) Datre, a psychology major at UVM who will put in approximately 5-6 hours per week until at least mid-summer. She took notes at the UNITE March meeting and she is going to create “posters” we can use on social media. A shout-out to Katy Trahan who helped organize clothing for a potential female victim at a South Burlington Farm, as well as taking copious notes for the VT Human Trafficking Task Force meeting which the Task Force Coordinator VERY MUCH appreciated. We also welcome our new summer intern Cameryn Lesko-Jelley. Cameryn is a soon-to-be senior at Connecticut College who is a history major with minors in government and philosophy. She has a passion for human rights and “for examining power structures, women and marginalized people’s rights and investigating the intersections between gender, race, law and human rights and government”.
The human trafficking awareness poster continues to be a work in progress and is nearing completion. We are excited that it has a broader focus inclusive of other forms of interpersonal violence such as sexual assault and domestic violence, given the common overlap of these with human trafficking.
GWTF is also working on a “know your rights/exploitation prevention” handout for farmworkers and adults that are potential being sexually exploited on VT farms by farmworkers. Migrant Justice, Erin Albright of New Frameworks and Kate D’Adamo are being consulted and the project is being funded by New England Coalition Against Trafficking (NECAT).
Trafficking Training Simulations
The UNITE (understand, network, innovate, teach, eradicate) Against Human Trafficking Collaborative lead by the University of Vermont Clinical Simulation Laboratory that Give Way to Freedom has been part of for years, has finished four simulation scenarios. They are already being used in trainings and have been well-received. The New England Coalition Against Trafficking (NECAT) is providing funding for our fifth UNITE scenario filming which should be completed by July. This scenario will be an adult Black male vet whose dog and shelter are being threatened by traffickers in a homeless camp. We have had to consult with law enforcement on this as the case touches on racism and mental health issues.
The VT Task Force continues to be energized with increased participation and the three federally funded paid staffers. Edith sits on the Victim Services Subcommittee which recently republished the VT Victim Resource Guide (posted on our website). She continues on the Training and Outreach Subcommittee and the Steering Committee. The Task Force has to reapply for another three years of funding quite soon, and we will of course be a stakeholder and sign the MOU. The Task Force already has a huge Law Enforcement participation, collaboration is good, and we continue to support and build up victim services’ participation.
The Dutchess County Task Force, with Courtney’s help, revised its Resource Guide (posted on our website). Courtney continues to sit on the steering committee, heads the training committee and consults of trafficking cases for adult survivors. Courtney will continue to support the work of the taskforce and engage to help with trainings as appropriate.
Grant Funded Projects
HEAL hired Erin Albright to project manage the labor trafficking healthcare setting documentary/training film we funded and things are in the planning stages of recruiting the survivors who will be interviewed. The videographer is also on board and late Spring should be when the filming takes place.
After a lapse during which everyone was trying to figure out balance during the pandemic, trainings have started up again and there is renewed energy to really ramp up. Courtney did a great awareness training for clergy and other community members, and so far this year Edith has trained up new VT 211 staff, a private EMS company based in VT, and a private security firm that provides officers to hospitals. We have at least three more trainings on the books for next quarter. The UNITE scenarios have been well received by the learners.
Thank you for your interest and support of our work. We are a 501(c)3 private operating foundation – your generous donation helps protect victims of trafficking. Donate>
If you suspect human trafficking, think you are in a human trafficking situation, or want to know more about community and survivor resources in your area, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or text BEFREE anytime, day or night
Give Way to Freedom Board of Directors
Courtney Albert, LMHC, M.Ed., MA, President, Edith Klimoski, Secretary, Elliot Gray, Treasurer, Deborah Volk, Member, Heather Ross, Member, Chris Destito, Member, Bernice Hazucha, Member