When victims are exploited by human trafficking, what happens next? When they are recovered, where do they go? How do they heal? This is a question Florida Abolitionist has been answering for years, but the answer is changing.
Today, Florida Abolitionist celebrated the Grand Opening of it’s new offices on the property of Calvary Orlando with the support of the community. This in-kind donation is making it possible for FA to direct thousands of dollars to direct services instead of office overhead.
During the press conference and Ribbon Cutting ceremony, District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson from Orange County shared that the County is excited to be a part of the answer by opening a crisis shelter for trafficking victims in the Spring of 2017. He thanked Florida Abolitionist and the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force for their leadership in caring for survivors.
For years, Florida Abolitionist has brought immediate care to victims; however, with limited resources for therapeutic shelter, this has been a difficult task. In April, the community will have a dedicated place to take victims the moment they are identified or recovered. The shelter will provide the trauma-informed care that is necessary for victims to take the first step toward recovery.
Department of Children and Families Regional Director, Bill D’Aiuto, shared about the exploitation occurring to our region’s youth. He praised Florida Abolitionist, the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, the City of Orlando, and Orange County for the collaborative efforts taking place to end human trafficking in the community.
Hearts were touched as Tomas Lares praised human trafficking survivor, Amy Smith, as a champion, more than a survivor. Amy said that while we may not like to discuss such a dark topic during the holidays, it is important to do so because people are still being hurt and exploited while we celebrate. She said, “Traffickers do not take a break during the holidays, they don’t take vacation time.” Amy went on to share her encouragement as a survivor and champion for the work being done to care for victims and walk alongside them. This shelter will be a huge step in that vital process.
Pastor Mike Justice fittingly closed the time by welcoming Florida Abolitionist and explaining why the church chose to donate office space. He said, “It is our honor and privilege to host such an important effort. Calvary cares about those who are hurting.” Florida Abolitionist is excited about the next phase in our journey to bring hope and healing to those in our community whose lives are being broken by human trafficking. They deserve a more and we hope to help them have a better tomorrow. We are grateful for the generosity of Calvary and look forward to an ongoing partnership for freedom.
WESH 2 and WFTV 9 News agencies were on hand to report the exciting occasion. They took the opportunity to interview Executive Director, Tomas Lares, as well as survivor champion, Amy Smith. Visit the News Agency stories below.