Human Trafficking Blog

We Imagine: A Community Coming Together to Help End Human Trafficking

Today is International Volunteer Day, and we are celebrating some of the wonderful people who make our anti-trafficking work possible! In particular, we’re reflecting on the continual effort put in by the volunteers behind Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline. These dedicated individuals took time from the chaos of daily life in 2020 to support survivors, connect service providers, and advance our vision of ending human trafficking.

Working as the Hotline and Resource Directory Intern, I have seen generosity, commitment, and positivity from each of our advocates during one of the most challenging years. People I talk to are often surprised to find out that our statewide 24/7 hotline is largely operated by volunteers. Nearly 100 people cover over 1000 shifts during a given year!

A portion of the new volunteer advocates for Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline who completed virtual training this fall.

But before any of our volunteer hotline advocates take their first shift, they all complete 50 hours worth of training. This year, new advocate candidates sat through a fully virtual training, which presents itself as an entirely new kind of accomplishment! Almost 70 new people including, students, professionals, and parents, decided to embark on this volunteer journey in the midst of a global pandemic.

With the recent launch of Colorado Human Trafficking Council’s public awareness campaign, our advocates are preparing for an increase in call and text volumes. These advocates will play a critical role in bridging the gap from awareness of the issue, providing survivors and providers with resources to receive the support they need. I consider myself so lucky to work alongside our volunteer advocates, who remind me that we can and will make progress together.

2020 Spirit of Service Award

Each year we have the chance to honor a special volunteer with LCHT’s Spirit of Service Award. This award is given to an individual or individuals who have made outstanding volunteer contributions to anti-trafficking in the current year. This year Colleen Devlin was nominated and selected unanimously by our staff and leadership to receive this award! 

Colleen has been an advocate with LCHT since May of 2019. She loves data analysis and has been a tremendous help in some of the hotline’s archival data cleaning, which she calls “such a satisfying puzzle”. Outside of the hotline, Colleen works for Secure Fisheries (part of One Earth Future Foundation), researching fisheries management issues in East Africa.

In her volunteer role with LCHT, Colleen has accomplished a lot in 2020, including;

  • Strengthening our ability to analyze and understand trends in human trafficking through strategic work with historical hotline data
  • Improving our overall data collection processes on the hotline
  • Disseminating her passion for data to the advocate team
  • Training incoming advocates on the value of data in an accessible and motivating way
  • Bringing a steady and refreshing presence alongside warmth and levity into what can be heavy and challenging work

I got to ask Colleen a few quick questions this week about her experience as an advocate: 

What is your favorite part of volunteering with the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking?

I am so grateful to the organization for giving me the opportunity to apply my data analysis skills. Compiling data in a spreadsheet may not sound fun, but working with LCHT to merge, clean, and assess their archival data has been amazing. It has really given us insight into the growth of the hotline and the potential for future impact. 

If you could tell new volunteer advocates one thing, what would it be?

Thank you for joining the advocate team! Don’t let your anticipatory anxieties keep you from signing up for your first shift. Your training has made you so prepared for whatever will come your way. That being said, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Advocates come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Working together makes us a stronger team!

What are your favorite ways to unwind and engage in self-care?

My absolute favorite way to unwind is pairing a jigsaw puzzle with an excellent audiobook or podcast. I also love swimming, doing crossword puzzles, watching my beloved Washington Capitals, and spending time in, on, or next to rivers with my four-legged companion Duck.

We are so grateful for Colleen, our hotline advocates, and many other volunteers who’ve supported our work in 2020. We couldn’t do this work without your help. Together we are truly a community coming together to help end human trafficking!

While we can’t celebrate all these special people in-person this year, we are still hosting a virtual event you should know about. We hope you can join us for We Imagine Live: A Virtual Vision of Justice and the End of Human Trafficking on Tuesday, December 8th at 7 PM. (If you’re reading this after the 8th, you can still use that link to watch the event on your own time!) This livestream benefit will present performances and presentations from artists whose work confronts tough issues while illuminating hopeful action. Don’t miss it!

Lauren Holsombeck is currently an intern in LCHT’s Leadership Development Program where she focuses on the Hotline and Resource Directory Program. She is also working towards her Master of Social Work at the University of Denver and hopes to use her education and experiences to pursue a career advocating for community-informed policy and practices within the field of human rights.

Lauren Holsombeck