New anti-human trafficking campaign to promote awareness and resources in Kalamazoo

New anti-human trafficking campaign to promote awareness and resources in Kalamazoo. (WWMT Franque Thompson)

January marks Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention month nationwide and a local organization is working to reduce the number of human trafficking cases in the state.

The Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition hopes a new campaign will promote safety and resources for victims in West Michigan

Nearly 140 cases of human trafficking were reported in Michigan during 2017.

“We shouldn’t be exploiting people for our own financial gain,” said Sara Morley Lacroix, founder of the coalition.

Morley Lacroix said sex and labor trafficking happen not just globally, but also in Kalamazoo.

“I take a countless number of messages and emails and voice phone calls from parents, from prior survivors looking for help that need to know where they can go to get help and talk to someone so they know that they’re safe and someone cares about them,” said Morley Lacroix.

She said the new billboards have an important message she hopes those in need will see. The six of them are in high travel areas to promote awareness and prevention.

“To let everybody in our community know that services are now available in Kalamazoo. That the YWCA will take in men and women, will take labor and sex traffic victims and help restore them with the services they offer,” said Morley Lacroix.

The coalition founder explained the Sanford Financial Services in Portage made a donation and encouraged the group to use the money as needed. She said they decided on billboards and that Adams Outdoor Advertising also made donations for the campaign.

For drivers passing by, Morley Lacroix hopes they’ll also take heed to the billboard by calling the coalition or YWCA. She said seeing something and saying something could save a life.

“We need to help our neighbors and love them and take care of them and make sure that they have a safe place to go,” said Morley Lacroix. “The people that you meet are just beautiful souls that just want to be loved, but loved for who they are and not for what someone else can gain from them.”

Last fall, Morley Lacroix said the YWCA provided services to almost 50 survivors of human trafficking in the Kalamazoo area alone. The coalition founder said they’re always looking for volunteers and donations to help victims restore their lives.

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