SUPPORT THIS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.

By Eric Heinz

For its second consecutive year, the i-5 Freedom Network hosted its Be a Big Cheese event, which raises funds for the organization’s classes on combating human trafficking.

More than 120 people registered for the event, which was hosted at The Cellar, and auction items were sold for as much as $2,500 each—the event raised a total of $15,000.

Speakers included Geri Cerkovnik, the CEO of Carnegie OC; Jaimee January, a survivor support specialist; and Lt. Mike Peters, the San Clemente Chief of Police.

Human trafficking has been detected frequently along Interstate 5 in Orange County and many other parts of California, as it provides traffickers with a wide berth of transportation.

Photo Gallery

“Probably our biggest accomplishment in the last year is how we expanded our audience,” Brenda Wells, the executive director of i-5 Freedom Network, said. “We started in hospitality, but we found that a lot of other audiences were interested in this; we’ve done (training to identify human trafficking) with law enforcement, women’s groups, the Outlets. I think more and more people are learning about it.”

Wells said by putting more momentum behind awareness of human trafficking, more people are becoming motivated to get involved. She said the next planned event is the Walk for Freedom in July. Wells said they’re also trying to get more legislation passed at the state level related to the prevention of human trafficking. She said i-5 Freedom Network had a few bills introduced that didn’t pass in the last session.

Wells said the organization is going to start working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the near future to help train newcomers on detecting possible human trafficking operations. For more information, visit www.i5freedomorg.publishpath.com.

BECOME AN INSIDER TODAY
Trustworthy, accurate and reliable local news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsroom by making a contribution and becoming a subscribing member today.

About The Author Staff

comments (0)

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>