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(LEHIGH VALLEY, PA) – On Tuesday, March 23, from 7-9 p.m., Aspire to Autonomy Inc. (ASPIRE), is partnering up with the YWCA of Bethlehem and Allentown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta for a free, virtual, training — part of ASPIRE’s Project: Underground Railroad initiative.

The mission for Project Underground Railroad is to create a network of partnerships between faith-based organizations, business owners, and community-based organizations that will cultivate a system of support for individuals who have been trafficked while educating on the components of human trafficking, infroming parents how to keep their children safe, and understanding the effects of trafficking on those who have been victims. ASPIRE’s objective for this program is to create a grassroots movement that will educate and equip the community to not only be more aware of human trafficking but provide the necessary tools and resources to take a stand against human trafficking and lead vicitms to safety.

Tiwanna Hatcher, YWCA Bethlehem’s Director of Administration said, “I have listened and documented the stories of women who survived human trafficking, while working at a domestic violence and sexual assault emergency shelter in Annapolis, MD. The brave faces of women telling their story were often Black. As a member of two organizations with missions to empower women, it is my responsibility to support efforts to stop the human trafficking. Human trafficking affects Black women at a disproportional rate, which can be attributed to many systemic inequities in our society. The Allentown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta is looking forward to working with ASPIRE to inform the community and call to action others to help stop human trafficking.”

Jen Wanisko, Program Director at YWCA Bethlehem said, “The YWCA in Bethlehem works to empower women and girls primarily through an array of enriching and educational programming, we are keenly aware of the critical need to assist the most vulnerable in our community, including victims and survivors of interpersonal and gender-based violence. The “In Her Shoes” awareness and activation workshop will connect the expertise and resources of ASPIRE to Autonomy to our family of YWCA friends and community partners. The YWCA is proud to join the fight against human trafficking to create a world that promotes peace, justice, freedom and dignity for everyone in our Lehigh Valley community.”

Human Trafficking is  the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Human trafficking is happening in the Lehigh Valley.

To learn more, please visit ASPIRE’s Facebook page: Aspire to Autonomy Inc.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is an organization of college educated women founded on Christian principles. The Allentown Alumnae Chapter is committed to the vision of their 22 founders by sharing a common bond of sisterhood, scholarship, and service. They strive to implement innovative community-based service programs through the sorority’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust:

  • Economic Development
  • Educational Development
  • International Awareness
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Political Awareness and Involvement

Since 1991, Allentown Alumnae Chapter has been anchored in the Greater Lehigh Valley proudly serving the surrounding communities. Annually, their chapter awards academic scholarships, supports artistic achievement, conducts voter education/registration and health programs throughout the Valley.

Founded in 2018, Aspire to Autonomy Inc. has been on the front lines in the fight against trafficking in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. ASPIRE is A Supportive Presence, Initiating Recovery and Empowerment that provides an opportunity for growth and development and fosters autonomy. ASPIRE believes in the cultivation of resources, services, community, and human relationships to foster equity and allow dreams of freedom and independence to become a reality.

Information provided to TVL by:
Sarah Cattin
Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.