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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Parvu

Umatilla, Fl. leading the way to human trafficking awareness

It’s easy for people in small towns to be ignorant to the reality of what is happening around the world. There are so many people, even in larger cities, who believe human trafficking doesn’t exist in the United States, let alone in a location near them.

Some people choose not to acknowledge reality of human trafficking or they choose not to learn more about it because it can be very difficult to hear about, especially if they know someone who is or was a victim.

In 2015, with the approval of our Pastor Brooks Braswell, Jen Crawford and I co-founded a human trafficking awareness ministry at our church. ,Slaves No More was birthed out of First Baptist Church of Umatilla. It has been a learning process and we have had challenges along the way. Difficulty in getting a core group of people to join us, but we didn’t give up. Last year I spoke about human trafficking to a couple of the other ministries at our church and in doing so our Slaves No More team has been growing and we have started meeting monthly.

I have had several requests from people in the church and community to do a local presentation that’s open to the public, not just one specific group. On Saturday, May 6th we held our first human trafficking awareness event.

Not sure how many people would attend, we decided to step out and go ahead with the event. When I was printing the handouts to go with my presentation I was unsure of how many to print. I thought I should probably only print 10, but I decided to be optimistic and I printed 25 copies just in case.

To my surprise we had 40 people attend our first event on Saturday. We had 5 teenagers attend and even had a few men join us for this event. Some of those who attended were church members/attendees, some from other churches and some who don’t attend church. It seemed as if each person there was interested in learning more about human trafficking. Many great questions were asked and many people want to learn more and get involved in helping us spread awareness in Lake County. There has been a lot of discussion on social media about the event and those who attended have been sharing what they learned with their friends and family.

Slaves No More is a ministry of First Baptist Umatilla, but it’s not limited to just members/attendees of the church. We welcome members of other churches and of the community to join us and work with us. Together we can reach more people and do more to spread awareness of human trafficking.

If we don’t know what human trafficking is, we can’t prevent it from happening to us or our friends, family, children, grandchildren, coworkers, etc… If we don’t know the warning signs we won’t be able to recognize a victim if or when we come into contact with them. Awareness is Key!

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about Slaves No More. CLick on my CONTACT page.

A special thank you to Jen Crawford, Mary Day, Robin McGillivray, Julie Veilleux and Jan Workmaster for helping make our first event successful.

Thank you to James and Karen Gardner, Linda Smith and Melissa Sirek for helping promote the event and for being part of our team.

Lastly, a sincere thank you to those who gave up two hours of their Saturday morning to learn about human trafficking. Together we can make a difference!

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