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Milwaukee's Convergence Resource Center helps fight human trafficking

Posted at 4:14 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 17:14:40-04

MILWAUKEE — Faces of Salvation adorn the walls of the Convergence Resource Center in Milwaukee. Alongside the pictures are testimonies of how the non-profit group helped so many women.

Dr. Debra Lassiter is one of the co-founders of CRC. How did she come up with the name?

"We got the name because I was sitting in a computer class next to where 9/11 happened, and they were talking about when all computers come together to accomplish a common goal, its called convergence."

Lassiter adds, "We actually started because of the women in the Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center. They were complaining when they got out there was nowhere for them to escape the life that they came from. We thought there's got to be a way to get them resources."

Last year CRC helped close to 1,000 women escape trafficking. Teams even traveled to major sporting events like the Super Bowl to find potential trafficking victims.

"We do flood places where people are coming in. We make sure we give them something so they can reach out for help," shares Lassiter.

CRC also operates a call center for women needing assistance. Dr. Lassiter exclaims, "We help people that we will never see because people call us from all over the country!"

The service is free. Ladies get information on food, shelter, and safety. Workers at the center do the legwork and find resources. There are texts, calls, or emails. Some are recommended by the Department of Justice, others by word of mouth.

"Believe it or not, word of mouth inside a prison is faster than the internet," laughs Lassiter.

Women who show up at the center get bags of personal items. They are not hotel-sized, but regular-sized for a reason.

Dr. Lassiter notes, "Some people say the smaller sized bottles are triggers for them cause that's what's in the hotel."

Doctor Lassiter says the Convergence Resource Center is successful because of her amazing staff.

"I have a great team. For 13 years my team worked without getting paid. We were all volunteers."

"My team works like they're getting paid millions of dollars, and I'm telling you they will make every sacrifice. If a woman walked through our doors right now they would stop everything to help her!"

CRC board member Arnold Cifax, Sr. is a Youth Director at New Testament Church of Milwaukee. He also oversees HEMAD, a group that enlists men to fight trafficking.

"You may have a frat party and have women come over and do their little lap dance or whatever they may be a part of sex trafficking," warns Cifax.

Cifax warns, "Human trafficking is an evil that needs to be dispelled, an evil that needs to be eradicated!"

Doctor Lassiter says empowering women is rewarding. She loves her job and the impact Convergence Resource Center is having all over the country.

"I don't get up in the morning and say 'this is going to be a terrible day.' I say 'I'm going to help somebody today, so let's get it going!'" she laughs.

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