Contact Teams are comprised of all-female teams of volunteers who basically serve as the initial contact point between the victims needing rescue and The Defender Foundaiton Shield Team doing the rescuing. Contact Team members are considered to be a part of the Shield Team as a whole. They train with Shield Team members; they are skilled in hand-to-hand combat; weapons use; investgation techniques; field communications; etc. As such, women who feel called to work directly with rescued victims in this capacity need to be physically fit; calm in tense, high-pressure situations; available to respond to a rescue scenario on fairly quick notice; and willing to submit to a very thorough background check and vetting procedure. Contact Team members are a vital part of The Defender Foundation’s rescue work, both nationally and internationally. Contact Team members stay with the rescued victim from point of pick-up to “delivery” to an approprate shelter, rehab facility, or foster care facility (depending on the victim’s age). Victims are never left alone after rescue; and they are never left in the company of male Shield Team members. Rescued victims are always in the company and under the protection of the female Contact Team members until they are released into a rescue shelter, rehab facility, or other safe housing facility.
Positions are currently available for the North Florida, Seattle, and Baltimore Shield Teams. If you are intested in applying for one of these volunteer positions, please contact The Defender Foundation national headquarters using the e-mail link in the upper right-hand corner of this page to begin the application process.
Another vital volunteer opportunity that is available to women alone is serving on the Hotline Phone Volunteer Team. This is not volunteering to answer The Defender Foundation’s business office line; this is serving on the team of volunteers who answer the 24/7 Victim Rescue Hotline and human trafficking tip line. This team is also comprised of all-female volunteers, and is also considered to be a part of the Shield Team effort. Phone Team volunteers undergo a typical background check – but not the significant vetting process that other Shield Team members undergo. Phone volunteers are also not required to perform any weapons training or field work, since they do not have actual face-to-face contact with victims. Phone volunteers are responsible for answering the Victim Services Hotline, either out of the national office in Jacksonville, Florida, or forwarded to your personal smart phone. Phone volunteers need to have a computer or i-pad nearby with internet access during their shift answering the phones, so that they can access local maps while speaking to the victim in order to help coordinate potential rescue efforts. Phone Team Volunteers serve as the very first point of contact between victims and their potential rescuers. They are responsible for obtaining as much information as possible about during the initial call, coordinating with the Shield Team Commander, and acting as a Victim Services Coordinator, helping to determine which shelter(s) may be available to take any victims potentially rescued by Shield Teams.
Phone volunteers coordinate victim retrievals and rescue responses on a national level. It is possible that you might be taking calls from people several states away. Volunteers for this team serve as critical links between the Victim and the Help we can obtain for them. There are numerous ways for victims to get in contact with The Defender Foundation, and if they are ready to run, we will go pick them up. As a Phone Team Volunteer, you will be screening calls from victims who are ready to run and arranging pick-ups by our Shield Teams. Other calls such as tips or victims who are too scared to currently run will be reported to the Nationwide Human Trafficking Hotline. If you end up making a report to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, you will be given a case number which will be used to record all information pertaining to that call.
Serving as a Phone Team Volunteer requires quick thinking, discernment, a calm, patient personality under pressure, and a deep compassion for the person on the other end of the line. Many times victims have no idea where they are. Their Traffickers deliberately keep their locations from them for easier control over their victims. Victims are moved often; even in and out of the country. Part of the training process for Phone Volunteers is practicing receiving minimal information (such as street and business signs), and then using computer search techniques to find the correct area to set up the location and time of the potential rescue. You will need to determine the on-call Shield Team’s response time to the area of the rescue operation. You will have access to a database shelters and emergency service providers that serve Trafficking Victims, and you will coordinate with the receiving facility in order to make the best placement you can. The Defender Foundation is very results-oriented; we try to always place rescued victims in housing and rehab facilities where they will receive the deepest depth of restoration services available in order to give them the best chance of complete healing and restoration. To that end, we prefer faith-based facilities because of the depth of restoration required by almost all human trafficking victims; but sometimes a faith-based facility is not available. Often times rescued victims need rehab services to help them overcome additictions to the drugs and alcohol that was used to control them by their traffickers. Victims suicide rates are much higher without being forced to take drugs. Faith-based rehab facilities usually average an 85% success rate versus an average of 10% for most non-faith-based facilities. Regardless, Phone Team volunteers coordinate these placements and do their best, given the timing, location, and service providers available in each rescue scenario. Every situation is different, and volunteers do the best they can.
The Defender Foundation is not a fly-by-night vigilante rescue effort. We work in close cooperation with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. We do not break the law; we uphold the law and we work within the legal parameters afforded to us. As a Phone Team volunteer, you will also coordinate with local and federal Victim Services Coordinators which may include the FBI and DHS (ICE). All of this is covered in the Phone Volunteer training, and you will find that much of this coordination is very straight-forward; just a matter of working off of an intake sheet and checking off one coordination piece one at a time.
As a phone volunteer, you will get phone calls from bad guys – but be assured, they don’t know who you are nor where you are, so you are safe. You will receive calls from mentally challenged individuals. When in doubt, you can always refer calls up the line to the Shield Team Commander. You are never without back-up when you need it. And, sadly, sometimes you will lose a victim. They will hang up on you before you were able to arrange a rescue. Their captors may terminate the call. They may be too frightened to work with you. This is all part of the territoty. However, you will also experience tremendous personal satisfaction when you get to partake in a successful retrieval. If you are interested or have questions, please contact us using the e-mail link in the upper right-hand corner of this page and put “Phone Volunteer” in the subject line. Interns accepted.