Community Experts Take the Floor at Trocaire’s Human Trafficking Panel

Kelly Galloway, executive director of Mona’s House; Cheryl Catuzza, MSN, RN, Nursing faculty at Trocaire College; Mary Jo Gugino-Colligan, Mercy associate and president of Angels of Mercy; and Julie Palmer, executive director of PATH, Inc. (People Against Trafficking Humans).

Trocaire College held a panel discussion on human trafficking titled “The Trauma of Human Trafficking: A Healthcare Response” on April 25. More than 40 people from both the college and the outside community attended.

Trocaire draws inspiration from its founding Sisters of Mercy  and Catholic social teaching, with its emphasis on human dignity and the common good. Organized by the college’s Office of Mission, Ministry and Service, this event also speaks to the Sisters’ five Critical Concerns, two of which are supporting women and advocating for non-violence.

“Traffickers prey upon the vulnerable. They deceive, coerce, and abuse their victims,” explained Bob Shearn, Trocaire’s director of Mission, Ministry and Service. “Consequently, victims are often deeply traumatized and typically bear deep psychological and emotional scars from the trampling of human dignity, in addition to any physical wounds.”

Panelists at the event included:

Julie Palmer, executive director of PATH, Inc. (People Against Trafficking Humans), a faith-based not-for-profit organization working to end human trafficking in Western New York and beyond through education, prevention and restoration.

Kelly Galloway, executive director of Mona’s Housea Christian organization in Buffalo that works to help those exploited through human trafficking through housing, a 12-month healing program, life skills and coaching sessions, and awareness efforts.

Cheryl Catuzza, MSN, RN, Nursing faculty at Trocaire College. Cheryl has worked extensively in the public health sector over the past seven years, especially among the youth detention population. She has seen firsthand the devastating effects of human trafficking on its victims and has worked to help heal and restore their lives.

Mary Jo Gugino-Colligan, Mercy associate and president of Angels of Mercy, a Christ-centered non-profit in Rochester dedicated to helping women and girls achieve freedom, dignity and restoration locally, across the nation and around the world.

“Our panel of experts represented a wealth of experience and distinct perspectives on working with victims of human trafficking, both from a healthcare and human services perspective,” Shearn said. “They helped attendees explore the world of trauma and offer approaches to identifying, treating, and hopefully, restoring the lives and dignity of those who have been affected.”

Those in attendance heard about how these organizations are working on the front lines to provide vital services to victims, and the panelists also inspired attendees to raise questions, offer comments and share their own stories about human trafficking and its devastating effect on the community.