Getting the Word Out
As fall weather slowly tiptoes into middle Tennessee, End Slavery Tennessee finds itself running at full pace with amazing volunteers throwing their hearts and souls into numerous activities and events, all benefitting the survivors that we care for here at End Slavery.
Alissa Shear, who tirelessly and effortlessly worked to update the ‘Be the Jam’ program, presented the completed program to 170 fifth graders from Bellevue Middle School. The program, designed to educate low-risk youth, was met with a positive and enthusiastic reception. The students particularly enjoyed the interactive aspect of the presentation, and it was evident that these young fifth graders were clearly aware of the problem of human trafficking and abuse. Alissa was also on hand to present to social work students at Columbia State University on November 1st. Her depth of understanding about the various aspects of human trafficking, as well as her skill in relating to students of all ages, has made her one of our most prized volunteers and educators. Because of her skill in education, she will be the primary trainer for all of End Slavery Tennessee’s Volunteer Trainings next year, from the first of the year through spring.
With the amazing increase of volunteer submissions that we are receiving on a daily basis, there is also an increase in the number of volunteer groups that are needed. To answer that need, Lisa Forte, Angel Kerns, Beth Wright, Cara Deese, Dr. Dana Hardy, Robyn O’Connell, Johanna O’ Connell, Natalie Popp, and Heather McMillan, have stepped forward to form groups in their respective areas. Beth Wright, volunteer and ESTN Board Member, has started a group in North Nashville/Madison. Her first meeting, held at Skyline Medical Center on Thursday, November 17th, was attended by six eager and dedicated volunteers. Cara and Dana, who will be leading the new Franklin group after the first of the year, have already reached out to a number of possible members, and have already heard from over 70 interested volunteers. Lisa and Angel are hoping to start a group in Hendersonville after the first of the year, as well. This group will be able to serve volunteers in the Hendersonville, Gallatin, and Goodlettsville area. Last, but certainly not least, Robyn, Johanna, Natalie, and Heather will be starting a group in the Hermitage/Donelson area. This will to increase awareness and advocacy in a much-underserved area of the growing Nashville community.
Our current Volunteer Group Leaders met on Saturday, October 29th. Scott Hardesty (Nashville), Dana Montgomery (Murfreesboro), Stacy Elliott (Brentwood), Tina McLane (Spring Hill), Sherry Gatewood (Clarksville), Mary Trapnell (West Nashville), and new group leaders, Cara Deese and Dana Hardy, came together for food, fellowship, and brainstorming, along with myself and our Executive Director, Derri Smith. We discussed the various accomplishments of each group this past year, as well as ways to organize membership and set goals. The future of our volunteers looks bright.
Dana Montgomery, who is also the Director of the Public Health Department of Rutherford County, spoke at the Tennessee Association for Family and Community Education on October 31st. Dana has been with End Slavery longer than almost any volunteer, which makes her one of the most knowledgeable members of our organization. She was able to share this knowledge, as well as her expertise as an RN, with over 450 people who attended this event.
Several new volunteers have stepped forward to become skilled presenters. Mesha Ingram, member of the Clarksville Volunteer Group, spoke to her fellow members at their November meeting, held on November 7th. Amie Hassler and Lisa Forte observed experienced volunteers and presenters Jamie Corwin, Stacy Elliott, and Trish Gomez at an event at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nolensville on November 13th. Other eager volunteers have stepped forward, as well, and will be observing the many educational opportunities being offered after the first of the year.
As more and more professionals are being exposed to victims of human trafficking, they are reaching out to be trained on the red flags of those victims. I had the pleasure of training forensic interviewers with the National Children’s Alliance on November 16th. This group of professionals is key to collecting solid forensic evidence that can be used in court, and so it is imperative that they be informed of all aspects of human trafficking.
Office work continues to increase, and volunteers Mickey Taylor and Jennifer Lucas, as well as new volunteer, Cara Allison, have given their time and energy to help Lorraine McGuire, our new Director of Development, as well as myself.
As I write this, we are approaching the holiday of Thanksgiving. May I take this time to say thank you for all that each and every one of you do for our organization, and how blessed we are that your determination and compassion has led you to End Slavery Tennessee and in to our hearts.