Alaska focuses on trafficking awareness

Second annual awareness weekend held in Anchorage.

The Salvation Army Alaska Division held its second annual Human Trafficking Awareness Weekend Sept. 28-29 at the Anchorage Corps Community Center. Coordinated by Stephanie Pavlakas, the event included the third annual Walk to Raise Awareness.

Special guest was Jenna Novak, regional specialist from Washington D.C.-based Polaris Project—one of the nation’s leading organizations combating human trafficking. It maintains the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-3737-888).

Alaska’s event coincided with The Salvation Army’s International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for Victims of Human Trafficking.

“I usually consider a conference worthwhile if I’m able to leave with new ideas and some type of action plan…this was accomplished at the Human Trafficking Awareness Weekend,” said Major Nila Fankhauser, divisional social services consultant. “The speakers were professional with good information to share.”

Along with Novak, conference speakers included FBI Special Agent Jolene Goeden and Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty. Novak covered general trafficking awareness and how to recognize a victim. Goeden and Geraghty focused on policy and federal Alaskan trafficking cases. Another panel—including Pavlakas, Joshua Louwerse of Covenant House and Karen Ferguson of Catholic Social Services RAIS—highlighted local agencies that work with trafficking victims. Conference attendees included a state trooper, university students and concerned community members.

Attendee Sybil Smith said, “This was a great event with networking opportunities and information on who’s doing what and how we can help bring awareness to our communities and help for those who may be trafficking victims.”

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