Nonprofit helping human trafficking survivors hopes to expand its outreach

ORLANDO, Fla. — A local nonprofit helping human trafficking survivors is hoping to expand its outreach as it sees more referrals during the pandemic.

The Samaritan Village is calling on the community’s help to continue its mission.

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Human trafficking can happen to anyone, anywhere.

“They’re hidden in plain sight, and oftentimes in some of the best neighborhoods and some of the best areas,” said Dee Coleman, the executive at Samaritan Village.

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Florida has the third-highest rate of human trafficking cases reported in the country, according to the latest data from the national human trafficking hotline.

“That is why we do what we do,” Coleman said. “We believe that no woman grows up and says, ‘Hey, I want to be abused, I want to be exploited,’ and so giving her that fresh start is just it’s a gift for us.”

Florida has the third-highest rate of human trafficking cases reported in the country, according to the latest date from the national human trafficking hotline.

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Coleman said it’s a prominent problem in Central Florida.

“Right now, we’re in a place where the numbers are really starting to pick up,” she said. “I know our referrals are picking up significantly.”

Coleman said the pandemic has played a role.

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“I think in having more people become vulnerable, which leads to exploitation,” she said.

There are more women who desperately need help. That’s why Samaritan Village wants to expand its impact, but it needs help.

The Samaritan Village is hosting a virtual fundraiser at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Coleman said the money donated will help open a third safehouse where survivors can heal and flourish.

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