As 2018 kicks off, the Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking hopes to have a bigger impact on the community.
The nonprofit organization, which started in 2011 to educate and
provide tools that empower government, businesses, schools and local
leaders to take action against human trafficking, is partnering with
Seattle Against Slavery to broaden its reach.
“We really wanted to open our umbrella a little more to do more
advocacy work, more getting the community mobilized and to collaborate
more so we weren’t reproducing the same things everywhere,” FWCAT’s Pam
Seattle Against Slavery is a grassroots effort that works to address
the root causes of sex and labor trafficking, while advocating for the
rights of survivors through education, advocacy and collaboration with
local and national partners.
Martin and Brenda Oliver, FWCAT’s executive director, said FWCAT’s mission isn’t changing with the new partnership.
“It gives us a bigger reach,” Martin said. “We will only benefit from their expertise.”
As a part of the partnership, Seattle Against Slavery has hired
Claudia Lawrence as a community mobilization director to run FWCAT.
Lawrence has more than 20 years of experience working with survivors of
violence and leading community safety initiatives, most recently with
the Seattle Indian Health Board.
Prior to bringing Lawrence on board, FWCAT was run primarily by volunteers.
“It is not a hobby anymore,” Martin said. “We want it to be a real
thing. We want it to be full time, 24/7, on the books, permanent. … The
population here is growing and changing, and the problem is still here.
It is getting bigger , and we need to get bigger to match that.”
The organization plans to share more details about the partnership
and its new full-time employee at a community forum from 7-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 10, at Federal Way City Hall City Council Chambers,
33325 Eighth Ave. S.
The topic is “Put Human Trafficking Out of Businesses,” and will
feature guest speakers Mar Smith Brettmann, founder of the Businesses
Ending Slavery and Trafficking, and Valiant Richey, a King County senior
deputy prosecuting attorney responsible for prosecuting cases involving
The forum will provide information on how businesses can implement
strategies to prevent human trafficking and protect themselves from the
risks trafficking poses.
The community is invited to attend the free event.
It is important for business owners and those who patronize businesses to be aware of signs of human trafficking, Martin said.
“In the bank, whenever you take out a large amount of cash, they have
questions they ask: Are you safe? Is this OK? Do you need help?” Martin
said. “They need to do the same thing when they see a young girl coming
in with an older man renting a room or getting their nails done or
something like this when someone is controlling their decisions. They
have to be taught.”
Last fall, FWCAT opened a kiosk in The Commons mall to help spread its message.
While much of its focus has been in the schools, the organization wanted to reach more of the community.
“We decided we needed to do something else,” Martin said. “We thought
that we had to meet the people where they were and we had to go to
The goal of the kiosk is to keep the organization visible and get people thinking about human trafficking.
“These issues, they peak when something really bad happens and
everyone is in panic mode and everyone want to put a Band-Aid on stuff
and this happened, so we’ve got to check a box. We’ve got to do
something,” Martin said. “So then they start getting involved, the
public. Then it waxes and wanes and everyone forgets about it. It seems
it is no longer an issue if it is not touching me personally.”
The kiosk, which is staffed by volunteers,
is typically open from 3 to 5 p.m. on weekdays and one Saturday a month
and provides statistics and resources about human trafficking, as well
as information about FWCAT’s upcoming events, such as the Break The
Chains 5K in May. In its first few months, the kiosk has provided
information to more than 800 people, Martin said.
“We are trying to create a relationship there so we can become even a
more integral part of the mall,” Martin said. “We are hoping that the
people in the mall who work there also see us as a resource.”
With more people, including youth, connecting to the internet through
mobile devices, exploitation is becoming more prevalent, Oliver said.
Oliver sees the dangers first-hand while giving internet safety presentations in schools.
“The number of sixth-graders that raise their hands that they get
weird texts from people they don’t know and they respond to them … and
what they are exposed to is frightening,” she said. “A lot of parents
don’t think it is going to happen to their child, but we have seen it
happen to kids from all walks of life.”
For more information about FWCAT, visit fwcat.org.
to view a video from the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children marking the 10-year anniversary of then-17-year-old Danica
Childs’ disappearance. Childs’ mother, Dianne Zoro of Federal Way, has
made it her mission to raise awareness of human trafficking, which Zoro
suspects in her daughter’s disappearance.