Tallahassee, FL, January 2022— The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Tallahassee and the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center (STAC) will continue their joint efforts in providing services to survivors of human trafficking across Florida’s Panhandle after being awarded a total of $800,000 to fund multi-year programming. These funds have been awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice. The partnership between IRC and STAC officially started when the agencies were awarded their first joint grant from the Department of Justice in 2018. The new awards will support anti-trafficking efforts that include, public education on human trafficking, social services supporting survivors and connecting survivors to community resources. 

Kristina Bailey, IRC’s Anti-Trafficking Coordinator in Tallahassee said, “Our anti-trafficking programs are critical to survivors seeking to heal and rebuild their lives, this funding and our continued partnership with community groups, like STAC, is critical to the overall well-being of those we serve.”  

“STAC is immensely grateful for this opportunity to continue our work with the International Rescue Committee. Due to both the pandemic and all the shifts in services and our collective realities, STAC is now at a pivotal point in its seven-year history supporting survivors of sex and labor trafficking and providing the Big Bend community with education about how everyone can safely and effectively respond to human trafficking. The first three years of our work with the IRC created an even stronger community connections and a solid foundation for survivor-focused support – between our two agencies and also, very importantly, throughout the community.” Said Robin Hassler Thompson, STAC’s Executive Director

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks third in reported case of human trafficking. “Florida is a hot spot, providing ideal conditions for traffickers to maneuver vulnerable victims, due to proximity to vast, unrestricted international waters. Traffickers continuously operate along these coasts with straightforward availability to major transportation hubs and infrastructure. In addition, Florida has a thriving leisure tourism industry and an economic market that promotes demand for hospitality, agricultural, domestic and sex industry workers.” said David Oliver, IRC’s Deputy Director in Tallahassee.  

“Our area has a poverty rate twice the national average, people cannot find affordable housing, and there are other great needs and inequities that traffickers will exploit to lure adults and children into sex or labor trafficking situations – a reality that has gotten even worse during the pandemic. This funding and partnership with the IRC means that we can meet survivors’ increasingly dire needs. These needs include everything from housing, food, transportation and cell phone services, to connecting sex and labor trafficking survivors with local agencies for counseling and other support.” Said Judy Gagnon, STAC’s President of the Board of Directors

The IRC and STAC is encouraging all Floridians to join the fight to end this atrocious crime in Florida communities. For more information about National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, click here.

Floridians can learn more about how to spot and report human trafficking by visiting Humantraffickinghotline.org. Anyone who encounters someone who appears to be a victim of trafficking should call local law enforcement immediately, and then report the incident to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(888) 373-7888

To learn more about the IRC in Miami, please visit Rescue.org/Tallahassee or email [email protected]  

To learn more about STAC, please visit Surviveandthriveadvocacy.org or email [email protected]