Patch talks to End Slavery, a nonprofit in Nashville focused on ending human trafficking and providing agency to those who have survived that experience.
Patch: Tell Patch a little bit about your organization!
End Slavery: End Slavery Tennessee's was founded by Derri Smith who, in her job directing international human trafficking work, often found services more readily available overseas than in her own backyard. The organization formed a local board and gained IRS 501c3 status in 2012. The mission is accomplished through what we call the TAAP method: Training, Aftercare, Advocacy and Prevention. We train professionals and the general public to identify and get appropriate help for victims. We trained 11,000 people just last year. We provide comprehensive, specialized aftercare for survivors (150 this year); and we advocate to bring systemic change through legislation, resources and development of collaboration and communication across government and nonprofit agencies.
End Slavery Tennessee focuses on Nashville and Middle Tennessee, but also trains and mentors other organizations seeking to do the same work in other areas. Our leaders are motivated by Christian faith to provide professional, comprehensive care to all in need. Because we are not a government agency, we are free to care for survivors in a way that model the power of genuine love, something survivors don't find during exploitation. We invest the time needed for real healing. Our model is receiving national attention: we’ve spoken about it in the White House, the U.S. Capitol and , most recently, the United Nations.
Patch: How does your organization help to strengthen the local community?
End Slavery: We promote healing of human trafficking survivors and strategically confront slavery in our state. That means survivors find healing, dignity, hope, make a plan for life and realize a stable, independent future. It also means fewer at-risk youth are trafficked, more traffickers are put out of business and thousands of professionals know how to identify and get help for victims. Because we are the designated Single Point of Contact agency in Middle Tennessee and partner closely with three other SPOC agencies in four divisions of our state, we ensure comprehensive, specialized, trauma-informed services. This ‘one stop’ service eliminates confusion in the community about where to refer victims. It also reduces gaps in communication, less-than-optimal services and the inefficiency that comes from agencies working in silos.
Patch: What is the biggest struggle your organization faces?
End Slavery: The number of survivors referred to care has nearly doubled in one year to 150. Our 3,200 sf space for offices and care activities is woefully inadequate, as are the 16 beds in two safe houses. In the meantime, new laws we helped enact are enabling law enforcement to uncover more trafficking cases, meaning more survivors are referred to us. Law enforcement officials say "we are just getting started" to identify the many victims in our midst—mostly girls and young women trafficked for sex. Because we are the Single Point of Contact agency that receives all such referrals in Middle Tennessee (designated as such by the Governor’s Safety Planning Commission), we are urgently focused on finding much more space and hiring additional staff. Currently, 99% of our funding is from private sources.
Patch: What do you hope for the future of your nonprofit?
End Slavery: We envision a day when every victim of human trafficking will be identified and referred to us and when we will have the resources to help each survivor find a new and stable life. We also hope for a day when more survivors will have the capacity and vision to help other survivors, whether through our agency or in other places. Ultimately we look for the day when there is no more human trafficking in our state, and we can focus on enabling other regional agencies to achieve the same in their states.