In photo left to right: Arielle Curry, Director of Anti-Trafficking with The Salvation Army, Stephanie Blakeman, and Anh Hua, Anti-Human Trafficking Program Manager
Individual Direct Service Award
Nominator: Anh Hua, Anti-Human Trafficking Program Manager
Award Recipient: Stephanie Blakeman, Anti-Huma Trafficking Case Manager, Nationalities Service Center (NSC)
Since joining NSC’s Anti-Human Trafficking team in 2014, Stephanie has developed an expertise in providing services for foreign national victims and survivors of human trafficking. She has worked with victims and survivors from 19 different countries, the majority of which were victims and survivors of labor trafficking. Stephanie is always eager to learn best practices from others and put them into practice in her own work, and she is always willing to share her knowledge. She is careful in advocating for her clients with different systems that she interacts with (such as public benefits, social security administration, and transportation department). Along the way, she helps to educate staff at these institutions to understand more about human trafficking.
Stephanie has spoken at local and regional conferences and has provided technical assistance to stakeholders from service organizations to federal law enforcement agencies. Her efforts help to bridge the knowledge gap of providing trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and culturally appropriate services to foreign national victims and survivors of labor trafficking.
Stephanie’s aspiration for assisting vulnerable populations led her to join NSC as a part-time case manager, working with unaccompanied children and youth. She conducted pre- and post-release home visits for children who had been detained at the U.S./Mexico border. She insured that the child/youth was safe in their new house, helped them obtain an attorney, and provided resources for the youth and their sponsor. Her fluency in Spanish has brought her into contact with many clients from the Latino community. Given this range, Stephanie has honed her inter-cultural competencies and cultural humility through responding to such a vast range of cultures and needs.
With her gentle and understanding approach, Stephanie does not have a hard time gaining her clients’ trust. She takes the time to understand their situation, work with them to develop a service plan, and support them through their service period to achieve their goals. She walks her clients through processes that are new to them and provides guidance as her clients navigate their life post-trafficking. She encourages her clients to advocate for themselves, while being available for support as needed.
Stephanie has found ways to ensure her clients receive the necessary services. For example, to address the welfare worker’s knowledge of a T Visa, Stephanie created a package of information relating to T Visa including documentations from the federal agencies that spell out who can receive a T Visa and what public benefits T Visa recipients can receive. She would bring this information to welfare appointments with her clients, and she would advocate with the supervisor at the welfare office to provide training for their staff on T Visa recipients.
Through Stephanie’s partnership building efforts, our Anti-Human Trafficking program now have access to churches when emergency housing needs arise. In the past few months, Stephanie has successfully connected seven male victims of labor trafficking housing provided by these churches.
Ms. Blakeman was presented the award on August 9th, during a reception held at the Nationalities Service Center.
On behalf of victims of crime and the victim services field, we thank you, Ms. Blakeman, for your innovation, collaboration, and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.