News 12 at 11 o' clock/ November 18, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga.--A local non profit could soon be getting national attention with their ideas and plans for helping sex trafficking victims.
Katie Conner is a volunteer with the non-profit, ICare. The group works to help prevent sex trafficking in the community, but also helps intervene when necessary.
Conner says, "I had heard about sex trafficking, but didn't think it could be happening in our community."
Conner is an attorney, but for the past 16 years, she's had a much tougher job as a mother raising 8 children. Her motherly instincts kicked in when she heard that children were being trafficked locally, and she joined the I-Care team. She just got back from a sex trafficking conference that part of the group attended in Washington D.C.
She says, "When I was at the conference, there were people from all over the world there, and it was amazing and kind of overwhelming. I thought , 'I'm just a mom. What can I do?,' and by the time I left, I thought, 'I'M A MOM, this is NOT going to happen in my community anymore.'"
Linda Goble also attended the D.C. training, and now she's back home, hitting the ground running searching for the perfect venue to bring a similar conference here.
"What we're wanting to do through I Care is to bring a smaller version of 'Share the Hope' here, and be able to bring on all the different professionals here in our area and train them," Goble explains.
They're planning to hold the conference in March at the new Columbia County Exhibition Center, but planning a conference is just the tip of the iceberg for what this group has planned. They recently held a 5K fundraiser, and all of the proceeds are going to help the group build two shelters for sex trafficking victims.
Goble says, "One of the homes will be for the mothers, a restoration home, and one of the homes will be for the children."
The plans are drawn up, and they're hoping to break ground around the first of the year. The plan has already gained some national attention during the conference, and it could eventually become a national model once it gets up and running.
Other shelters across the country don't offer care for kids.
With the problem of sex trafficking really starting to surface in our area, the team of volunteers is trying to get people from every corner of the community together to help.
Goble explains "The medical field, legal, social workers, educationers, lawyers, law enforcement, business, and faith based all came and they were trained in all aspects of the sex trafficking industry [in Washington D.C.]"
So far, there are nearly 70 volunteers in the I-Care organization. They also have plans to get their message out to local schools. For more information on how you can get involved with I-Care, go to http://www.i-care4.org