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Shedding Light on Human Trafficking: Heart 4 The Community Initiative Townhall

On a Saturday that will be etched in the hearts of many, July 22, 2023, Heart 4 The Community Initiative (H4TCI) hosted a powerful Human Trafficking Awareness Townhall at United Faith Christian Ministry in Stafford, VA. The event brought together church leaders, community members, and esteemed panelists to address the urgent need to combat the horrific activity of human trafficking within our communities.

The Townhall was thoughtfully opened by Tremayne Lacey, Executive Director of H4TCI, who emphasized the crucial role church leaders and community members play in raising awareness about this heinous crime and its devastating impact on our society.

The insightful panel discussion, led by Carl Armstrong, Director of Operations at H4TCI, featured esteemed guests dedicated to the fight against human trafficking. The panel comprised Michele Trampe, Executive Director of Central Virginia Justice Initiative (CVJI); Detective 1st Sgt. Robert J. Grella Jr., from the Stafford County Sheriff Special Investigations Unit; Barbara Jean Wilson, an Author and Survivor of Human Trafficking; and Monica Gary, Stafford County Board of Supervisor Member for Aquia District and Candidate for Virginia Senate District 17.

Barbara Jean Wilson, a survivor of familial trafficking, shared her poignant journey of overcoming adversity. She stressed the importance of building trust with those who have been trafficked, especially when familial relationships have been broken by exploitation and betrayal.

Monica Gary passionately discussed her experience with domestic violence and her determination to implement education and training programs in Stafford County schools to address crucial issues such as internet safety and dating.

Detective Grella highlighted the critical role of education in schools and underscored the need to equip law enforcement with the knowledge to recognize signs of human trafficking during their responses to various calls.

Michele Trampe shed light on the vulnerability of certain groups to human trafficking, such as the homeless, individuals with addictions, disabilities, and mental health challenges. She emphasized the significance of supporting these vulnerable populations to combat human trafficking. Challenges like affordable training and access to healthcare were identified as major hurdles in this effort.

The Townhall emphasized the importance of introducing human trafficking education into school curriculums and providing families with resources such as videos and pamphlets to empower them in protecting their children from exploitation.

Participants were encouraged to respond to the "Call to Action" by signing up for various initiatives aimed at making a tangible difference in the fight against human trafficking.

The event's closing remarks, delivered by Larry Brown Sr., Founder of H4TCI, offered words of encouragement and prayer for the panel members and their continued dedication to this critical cause.

As a resource to combat human trafficking, various organizations were highlighted during the Townhall, including Just Ask Prevention, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Shared Hope International, Central Virginia Justice Initiative, Treasures, Homeland Security Blue Campaign, Polaris, and the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The Townhall served as a powerful platform for engaging the community and church leaders in the fight against human trafficking. By empowering and educating our society, together, we can eradicate this evil and create a safer, more compassionate world for all.

Resource Links:

National Human Trafficking Hotline

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week. Languages: English, Spanish.


SMS: Text INFO to 233733

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