York, Pa.

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YWCA York’s Human Trafficking Task Force is on a Mission to Increase Awareness

YWCA USA CEO, Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron expressed the YWCA USA’s commitment to the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism at YWCA York’s Cocktails For A Cause event.

The York County Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in 2005 by a volunteer group of human services agencies. The Task Force is comprised of law enforcement agencies, service providers, and community members who are committed to addressing the problem of human trafficking. The Task Force seeks to promote awareness and increase education to South Central Pennsylvania about the crime of human trafficking and to provide support and referral services to those who have been identified as trafficking victims.

The Task Force has been integral in raising awareness and advocating for victims of human trafficking in South Central Pennsylvania. In 2011, they were named finalists in the category of Brand Identity and Unique Marketing Campaign by the Central Pennsylvania Innovation Awards for their creation and distribution of “Safety Posters” geared towards human trafficking victims.  These posters had small “safety cards” with the hotline number and other resources for victims that could be easily accessed.  The posters were placed throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and various surrounding areas in places where victims may be located, such as bus stops, highway bathrooms, truck stops and hotels.

Due to this campaign, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received nearly 20,000 calls in 2011, which represents a 64 percent increase in call volume from 2010.  Of those calls, 369 were from Pennsylvania. The statistics show a tremendous increase in awareness on the issue, but there is still more work to be done.

Although the marketing campaign increased awareness, there are still people in the community who are unaware of the prevalence of human trafficking in York County. Through public awareness and outreach events, like their most recent event: Cocktails for a Cause, the Task Force can truly educate the community. 

Cocktails for a Cause was the Task Force’s own awareness and fundraising event that also served as a way to compliment the efforts of their Board of Directors and their Fund Development department. The event had a successful turnout due to the increased interest in the topic of human trafficking and the desire to help survivors. “With the increased awareness of the issue of trafficking, we’ve seen an increase in the requests from the public for education and we have also seen an increase in referrals of victims from outside agencies”, said Miesha Hill, York County Human Trafficking Chair and YWCA York Community Outreach Advocate.

The event consisted of a short awareness video, followed by a speech from YWCA’s Miesha Hill.  Those who attended the event were able to learn about trafficking and the local initiatives being conducted by the Task Force.  The attendees also had the opportunity to receive educational materials to take back to their perspective groups to share, sign up to be members of the Task Force, and purchase t-shirts and bumper stickers supporting the work of the Task Force.  The event reiterated that human trafficking is not just an international problem, but also a local problem that occurs right here in our own country and in our own neighborhoods. To learn more visit http://www.ywcayork.org/victim-services/