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Debbie Lassiter, a software specialist for U.S. Bank in the Milwaukee area, has been named one of the “Heroes of the 500” by Fortune magazine.
On the Heroes of the FORTUNE 500, Catherine Dunn writes: "We found more than 50 people who have performed extraordinary acts of bravery, charity, ingenuity, or selflessness—transforming their communities (and often the lives of total strangers) in the process. Also, they just happen to work for the biggest companies in America."
Lassiter was nominated for her tireless work for victims of sex trafficking via the Convergence Resource Center (CRC), a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) faith-based, community service organization, which she co-founded in 2004 in Milwaukee.
The group’s initial focus was to assist incarcerated women with rebuilding their lives. “While listening to the women tell us their stories, we saw an intersecting point with being incarcerated for prostitution and sex trafficking,” said Lassiter. “We realized it wasn’t what we call voluntary prostitution – they were forced into it against their will via violence, coercion and/or abductions. These were all for the purpose of the sex trade. We came across women without any skills – the kind of skills learned in high school. When they turn 17, many of them are ‘retired’ from trafficking, and then turn to prostitution to survive because they don’t have employment skills.”
In 2010, the CRC’s mission expanded to include girls and women who are victims of sex trafficking. The CRC provides parenting, school supplies, assistance with transportation (bus passes), job readiness training including business etiquette and computer education, as well as advice for dealing with traditional, day-to-day tasks unfamiliar to many of these women. Assistance with substance abuse is also provided for the women who need it. Individual and group support with mentorship is provided. The CRC is a Trauma Informed Care Agency and is a Certified Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Educator.