Haven Atlanta staff members (from left) Melba Robinson, Consuela Douglas and Keisha Head use their van to provide services to women who have faced human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Haven Atlanta anti-trafficking ministry brings services to its members

By: David Ibata

In these COVID-19 days, Haven Atlanta, The Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking program in Georgia’s capital city found it difficult to provide face-to-face services and still ensure social distancing at its offices and drop-in center.

So rather than have members continue to come to them, Haven Atlanta loads up its 15-passenger van and takes its services to its members.

“We wanted to ensure the ladies in the program still receive the services they need,” said Melba Robinson, Haven Atlanta director.

Haven Atlanta has 10 to 15 clients at a time, women 18 years of age and older who have faced trafficking and sexual exploitation. It offers counseling, mentoring, Bible studies, a support group, health and wellness and job readiness teaching, and a host of other services.

“When the virus hit, we had to go virtual,” Robinson said. That worked for providing emotional support, case management and some classes online, not so for matters requiring face-to-face contact.

So, the three-person staff of Haven Atlanta – Robinson and Keisha Head, case manager, and Consuela Douglas, therapist – came up with a plan for a mobile ministry.

“We map out who lives in the same area, and we call our members and schedule a time so we know they’re there,” Robinson said. “We have to set up a schedule so that, when we get there, we’re making sure we’re doing our social distancing and not impeding on anyone else.”

The three staff members head out in the van, visiting five clients per trip. “We allow time to get there, spend a little time with them, and make sure they can go through our van and get the necessary items that they need. We have food, clothing, and baby items. Food items include non-perishables, such as canned goods, and we have also gotten fresh produce, bread and meat.”

Food is sourced from a partner agency and The Salvation Army Red Shield Services shelter in downtown Atlanta.

The Buckhead, Atlanta, Rotary Club is another faithful ministry partner. Besides donating funds, the Rotarians set up an Amazon Wishlist.

“Rotary members can go on the Wishlist for Haven Atlanta and click on any of the items listed there; they come straight to us, and we distribute them to our members,” Robinson said. “One day in the near future, the Rotary Club also plans to cook a complete meal so we can deliver them to the members in the program.”

Haven Atlanta’s mobile services began in June, Robinson said, “and will go on as long as we have to while ensuring the safety of staff and our members.“