Human Trafficking Blog

The Spirit of Service: Meet Two Amazing Volunteers Making a Difference

During our Because I Know campaign, we’re celebrating the fact that knowledge of human trafficking can inspire meaningful action — and that each individual has the power to make a difference. Today is International Volunteer Day, a chance to recognize the people who are stepping up, giving their time, and creating safer communities for all. So, there’s no better time than right now to announce the two recipients of our 2022 Spirit of Service Award: Madison Goering and Danny Trznadel!

The 2022 Spirit of Service Award

Each year, the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding volunteer contribution to help end human trafficking with our Spirit of Service Award. Madison and Danny were both nominated and selected unanimously by our staff and leadership team to receive this award for 2022! They really capture “the spirit of service” with their passion, dedication, and selflessness — and have inspired us with their leadership in the anti-trafficking movement.

Madison Goering Is a Force for Good

Madison’s legacy of volunteering and service to the anti-trafficking movement is second to none. She has been a thoughtful ambassador for this work for many years, and is so committed to our mission that she even joined the LCHT team in a part-time position! Everyone who has the privilege of working with Madison is energized and inspired to make a deeper impact for the people who the crime of human trafficking affects.

LCHT volunteer Madison with staff members and advocates

Madison (pictured second from left) along with staff members and advocates for Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline.

How did you first learn about human trafficking?

I learned about human trafficking in my undergraduate program. After realizing there was very low awareness about human trafficking in the United States my friends and I connected with a local NGO, Breaking Free, to better understand the issue. We learned that in Minnesota there were very few resources, and even harmful legislation that placed blame on victims vs. sex buyers.

What have been your volunteer roles with LCHT?

I first connected with LCHT in 2013 through the Leadership Development Program. After that, I supported the organization as a Hotline advocate and Hotline backup. Starting in Fall 2020, I completed my MSW practicum with LCHT, primarily working with Kara Napolitano on training and outreach to Spanish-speaking communities. I circled back to the Hotline and joined as part-time staff for the past year. I stepped back from my role in October as I’m headed into the final months of my dual MSW/MPH degree.

What have you learned through that work?

I have learned how building trust and connection in communities is incredibly important. Oftentimes, that means physically and metaphorically meeting people where they are, and listening to understand — not to respond. I’ve learned the importance of bringing people from all kinds of backgrounds into a room together to discuss issues, working to find common ground in order to collaborate.

LCHT volunteer Madison Goering quote on autonomy

Photo Credit: Ki Images

What’s the best part about volunteering and working with LCHT? What’s the hardest part?

I have loved giving Human Trafficking 101 presentations in Spanish and English! It is always energizing to engage people in conversations about red flags and misconceptions. The hardest part is finding housing resources for Hotline callers outside of traditional M-F workday hours. Shelters can be challenging to connect callers with due to limited availability, and it is compounded when it is an evening or weekend.

Why are you passionate about this cause?

Like most of us, I like my autonomy. I consider myself a pretty independent person. I believe all people should get to choose where they work, what they do with their free time, how to spend their money, etc. It makes me angry that some people leverage power and control to take autonomy away from others.

What is your hope for the future of this movement?

I hope survivors, who are the true experts of human trafficking issues, are looked to for more than their stories. There are many incredible survivor leaders who should be consistently paid and compensated for their knowledge, their approaches, and their ideas on how to solve incredibly complex issues.

Danny Trznadel is Forging Valuable Connections 

We feel so fortunate that Danny came into our universe this year! He first participated in our Leadership Development Program, and continued to be a partner after the internship ended. Danny showed up in our Training and Education Program with personal curiosity and thoughtfulness, and was motivated to connect our team and mission with his own professional network. His sense of urgency to give back and be a part of strengthening the anti-trafficking response in Colorado is inspiring.

LCHT volunteer Danny Trznadel in a group photo of staff and advocates

Danny (pictured second from right), along with LCHT staff members and interns.

How did you first learn about human trafficking?

Human trafficking awareness, interdiction, and prosecution have been interest areas of mine since the early 1990s when, as a Border Patrol Agent, I first encountered human smuggling and also instances of human trafficking. Later, I studied trafficking policies in my master’s degree program. After retiring from law enforcement, I worked in the corporate physical security sector and engaged with LCHT to train our security, human resources, and facilities staff in human trafficking awareness. As I have worked more closely with LCHT, I continue to learn how I can take action to help stop criminals from preying on and profiting from the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Why are you passionate about this cause?

Not enough resources or attention are focused on this topic. I want to do what I can to raise awareness and increase interest about this important humanitarian crisis so that as a country, we can improve enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws, help victims, and educate others about this societal problem. People in our own communities need our help and support.

What have been your volunteer roles with LCHT?

This past spring, I was honored to participate in LCHT’s Leadership Development Program, which was such an amazing experience. While learning more about the combined effort to end human trafficking, I was able to share my perspective and experience from my law enforcement background. I shadowed Kara Napolitano, Research and Training Manager, as she trained law enforcement officers, college students, and victim advocates in human trafficking awareness. This summer and fall, I have been working with Katlyn Pryshlak, Hotline and Advocacy Manager, forging new relationships and building stronger partnerships with Colorado law enforcement agencies. 

LCHT volunteer Danny Trznadel quote on what each person can do to combat human trafficking

What have you learned through that work?

There are so many aspects and complexities in addressing the human trafficking problem, and it can be difficult to know where to start or how to help. Educating the public, gaining the trust of exploited survivors, and building partnerships with law enforcement to present a united trauma-informed response requires patience and persistence. I would like to impress upon all of my colleagues and associates in the policing world that LCHT is an important partner in accomplishing the law enforcement mission. 

Why should others volunteer?

There is something for all of us to do, starting with educating ourselves. Human trafficking is a multi-faceted problem which requires all of us to learn more and commit to doing what we can on an individual level to combat the issue. There are so many exciting opportunities to personally take action, such as by volunteering to help spread the word, teach others, research, fundraise, assist survivors, etc.

What is your hope for the future of this movement?

I hope for wider public recognition at institutional and individual levels that exploitation of our most vulnerable is a tragic reality we face in our communities, which tears at the fabric of our civil society. I hope that one day, this issue is taught in all schools and is required training for those obtaining business licenses. I hope that increased common understanding of how prevention, protection, and prosecution initiatives are interwoven, and effective partnerships will result in the eradication of human trafficking.  

3 Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

Want to join Madison and Danny in taking a stand for human rights? Help end human trafficking and create a better future for all. Here are the top 3 ways to make a difference:

  1. DONATE. Your gift today will support anti-trafficking training, community-based research, Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline, and the development of future human rights leaders. Any amount you can give fuels progress!
  2. GET TRAINED. Get yourself or your organization/community group trained to identify human trafficking and be there for survivors.
  3. GIVE TIME. Support survivors as a volunteer advocate for Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline. Provide callers and texters with the resources they need.