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Human Trafficking Awareness Forum to be Held at Oconee County Civic Center


The North Oconee Rotary Club is working with the Oconee Sheriff’s Office, state leaders and others to present the Human Trafficking Awareness Forum. Attendees will hear from a variety of speakers including legislators, law enforcement, and survivors. Andrea Wellnitz is co-chair for the event.

“We have Representative Deborah Gonzalez, she’s going to be setting the context of human trafficking," Wellnitz said. "We have Senator Renee Unterman, she’s going to talking about the Georgia Safe Harbor Act, we have Lt. Deanna Smith, with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and she’s going to be talking to us about issues in our county and surrounding counties. And then we have a survivor and then we have another speaker who is going to be talking to us and she’s from Divas Who Win and her name is Shonda.”

Wellnitz says additonal information will be provided for those attending.

“We also are going to have a variety of resource tables, providing information about how to help those who might be trafficked within our communities,” Wellnitz said.

“I would hope that they really gather information where they learn to spot instances where something might be out of the ordinary…and not stop at that, but follow up with it and do something about it.”

Co-chair Laura Leiden says the problem is everywhere.

“I think many people think of human trafficking as an international problem only,” according to Leiden. “But we have discovered it is in Georgia and even in Athens and in Oconee County.”

She hopes the forum will inspire others to get involved somehow to fight the problem.

“The first step to me was to do this forum, a part of it is going to take a life of its own. I’m hoping it will motivate t will even a small number of people to really take it as their mission to do something about it.”

The forum is being held at the Oconee County Civic Center, Thursday, october 25th from 6 to 9 pm. It is free and open to the public. Those attending are asked to arrive before 6 to ensure seating have time to speak with representatives at resource tables.