The Well participated in an important Advocacy Event on September 18 hosted by the Lexington chapter of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionists Organization of America. Hadassah organized the meeting, held at the Temple on North Ashland, to promote awareness of the problem of human trafficking, and the fact that the problem exists here in Lexington.
The first speaker was Marissa Castellanos, MSW, who works with Catholic Charities of Louisville as its Human Trafficking Program Manager. Marissa has long been recognized as one of the leading authorities on this issue in Kentucky and has provided case management services to over 90 survivors of either sex or labor trafficking. Marissa was followed by Allyson Cox Taylor, who heads the Office of Child Abuse within the Office of the Kentucky Attorney General. Although The Well does not work with children directly, her message is extremely important for the work we do because so many of the women we will serve will have first suffered as children, before they reach us.
The final speaker was Kim Edwards, one of the founding board members of The Well. We were glad she went last because Marissa and Allyson spoke graphically and at length to help the group understand the problem, while Kim was able to describe the work of The Well, which is part of the solution. Marissa and Allyson are part of the solution, too, as other good news, spread through the presentation, is that both state and federal laws have made great strides in recent years; we have an active task force meeting regularly and diligently focusing on these problems; and a national hotline exists both for people to seek help and for concerned observers of suspicious activity to make anonymous reports that will be investigated. CALL 1-888-373-7888.
The program was scheduled to last from 2 to 4, but the audience was very engaged and we ended up staying longer (and enjoying the hospitality and food of Hadassah). This was a wonderful event that served its purpose of promoting awareness and understanding and how we can all be part of the solution. It was also a great intersection of different communities (private, government, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, non-faith, etc.) and we appreciated being part of it.