Doing Good: Law firm volunteers to help victims of trafficking

After attending a press conference that brought the problem of foreign women being trafficked into Atlanta to public awareness, Summer Chandler felt she needed to make a connection within the community to tackle this issue. A partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge, Chandler and colleague Jill Kuhn utilized the firm’s Atlanta Women’s Steering Committee to help these women receive legal assistance.

“There is the issue of domestic violence, language barriers, and the many issues they would have if they went to their home country,” Chandler said. “So, this became a personal issue, and I couldn’t imagine what these women would be going through. We had to find a way to get involved.”

MLA partnered with the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, a nonprofit agency that was started by Atlanta-area law firms to focus on asylum and immigration cases.

“The organization first started to help the asylum type cases since this is a very vulnerable, sensitive cases,” said GAIN Executive Director Monica Khant. “As we grew, there was an outcry to involve trafficking cases, and so we added that service to expand our community outreach.”

Atlanta is one of the top 10 cities nationwide for human trafficking and MLA partnered with GAIN in 2012 to give back to the victims. MLA has worked on four cases to date and more than 20 lawyers and numerous paralegals have been trained to help these women start new lives.

Although the organization seeks help of attorneys, the community can reach out to GAIN and see how they can be of more help. “We are always working with social service organizations to expand the healing process and give back to the victims,” said Khant.

Started in 2005 and with the help of volunteer attorneys, GAIN tackles various issues for immigrants by providing pro-bono counsel, mentoring and helping victims obtain asylum, T and U-visas (for immigrant victims of trafficking and enumerated crimes) and Violence Against Women Act petitions.

“This is so different from what we do on a daily basis,” added Chandler. “The idea of helping and empowering other women who are powerless is very rewarding.”

For more information on Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, visit www.georgiaasylum.org

In other news: The Truett-McConnell College women's soccer team spent two successive weekends delivering food and playing with children in low-income neighborhoods in partnership with Cornerstone Assembly of God Church in Oakwood. The team assembled sack lunches consisting of a sandwich, chips, and fruit snacks, and spent time with low-income families and men and women dealing with addictions.