Williamson’s Notes: Trust Your Instincts

In a region known far and wide for our tourism and hospitality, it’s easy to understand why Southeast Louisiana is recognized as a world-class destination. As residents, we reap the benefits, enjoying some of the best dining, entertainment, and cultural experiences around, yet we strive to improve on the quality of life here at home for us all.

Many of our communities’ challenges are plain to see - poor education and health outcomes, substandard infrastructure, crime – while others aren’t as evident. Human trafficking is a hidden issue, targeting people who have little power to fight back. Traffickers rob victims of their dignity, hope, and ability to earn a living wage.

United Way of Southeast Louisiana is renewing our commitment to raising awareness around human trafficking, its survivors, and the actions we can take to save lives and end the dangerous, illegal exploitation of labor.

Our Young Leaders United members joined together for a live Human Trafficking Awareness & Reporting Training led by Lugine Gray, a regional coordinator with the Louisiana Child and Youth Trafficking Collaborative. And next Wednesday, we’ll host an industry training, in partnership with First Lady Donna Edwards’ Louisiana First Foundation (LFF) and sponsors, to arm area hospitality workers with frontline skills to detect and report suspicious behavior.

The trainings, featuring experts and survivors, are empowering individuals to trust their instincts when it comes to recognizing the signs of human trafficking and making a report. The bottom line is if you see something suspicious, you should report it – doing so could save someone’s life.   

As conversations around human trafficking increase in advance of the national college basketball championship in New Orleans, we’ll join again with LFF next month to help kick off the National Coalition for the Prevention of Human Sex Trafficking’s Awareness Campaign, which intends to shine a light on human sex trafficking nationally through the collaborative work of first spouses across the country.

We recognize human trafficking is a complex issue no single organization can end alone – especially in a city like ours – but United, we will make a difference.

Please join us in our fight.

Living United,



Note from the National Human Trafficking Hotline: Human trafficking is a situation in which an individual is compelled to work or engage in commercial sex through the use of force, fraud or coercion. If the individual is under the age of 18 and engaging in commercial sex they are experiencing regardless if force, fraud, or coercion is also taking place.

If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation: Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.