While there are many great examples of what individual Junior Leagues and SPACs are doing to fight human trafficking, the Junior League of Kalamazoo’s Sara Morley-LaCroix shows how League members can use their training to create community-based organizations to address critical issues.
How did you become involved in the human trafficking issue?
I became aware of the severity of the human trafficking crisis in Michigan through my work as a delegate to the Michigan State Council of Junior Leagues, which represents nine Leagues in Michigan, and its State Public Affairs Committee. MSC has made progress in changing the language of the law to recognize human trafficking as a crime, while punishing perpetrators more harshly, and working with the Attorney General’s office to establish safe harbor laws to protect human trafficking’s 16- and 17-year-old victims. That was very satisfying!
But you formed your own anti-trafficking organization in Kalamazoo. Why?
There was no organization in Kalamazoo dedicated to addressing the problem on a community-wide basis. So I started the Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition to raise awareness about human trafficking and uncover resources for victims in the Kalamazoo area. KAHTC’s first meeting in February attracted eight people, including Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller and an FBI Victim Specialist. Support has built since through monthly community meetings, and an awareness event is scheduled for September, with local, state, and federal representatives invited. Our goals are to advocate for victims of human trafficking, both for sexual exploitation and labor exploitation, in the Kalamazoo area, and to create community awareness of the problem through social media and training of police, teachers and medical personnel.
What made you think you could make a difference with KAHTC?
I really grew up in The Junior League. My mother and her sister were both League members, and I think I learned from them that making a difference in your community is always important. And it is also what my League training taught me to do. But most of all it is something that is important for me to do, as a life-long member of the Kalamazoo community. We can help address a crisis that affects so many people!