Stop the Traffic
Summer 2017 Issue

Meet a BCAT Member Corner   - Robert "Woody" Wood think YOU spend a lot of time in your car? BCAT knows someone who can top your commute: Robert "Woody" Wood, the Street Outreach Coordinator for the Synergy Project of Bucks County, is in his car almost every hour of every work day. Part of the Valley Youth House organization, the Synergy Project puts Woody directly in touch with the county's homeless youth in order to help them survive and to know that someone cares and is there to listen to them.
Woody, a Synergy Project member since 2013, traverses Bucks County's 624 square miles to reach homeless teenagers and young adults (typically 18-21 year olds, bringing food, basic hygiene products, food cards, and a listening ear. Although Bucks County is thought of as a prosperous county in Pennsylvania, homelessness among youth and adults is not uncommon.
"We average about 27 to 30 kids that we reach every month in Bucks County," Woody said recently. "There are about 2.8 million homeless people under the age of 17 in the U.S., and we get our share here." The circumstances by which local youth find themselves on the streets vary; some are runaways, some are fleeing abuse, and some are kicked out of their homes by family. In the case of 18-21-year-olds, often they are youth from the foster care system who "age out," or become emancipated at 18 without a support network. The youth are often difficult to find because unlike adult homeless, who often congregate, youth don't typically convene at "homeless camps." They're too often on the run and trying to hide.
Synergy Project is now in 14 counties in Pennsylvania. Woody took over the position from Shane Burroughs, who was the original Synergy Project representative on BCAT. He is assisted in the work by a street outreach counselor and a drug and alcohol counselor. To say he loves his job might be an understatement.
"I provide direct services on the street to homeless kids," he explained. "One hundred percent of my job is to form relationships with youth who are homeless, or couch surfing, or nomads-kids who might be in Bucks County only for a little while before they move on." Woody says he and the two other Synergy Project staffers try to form relationships that give the youth the security of knowing that someone is here to listen to them and to help provide some materials support. Most important, though, Woody noted, is that the youth say his value to them is as a good listener.
 "Homelessness doesn't define who these kids are; it's just the situation they find themselves in right now," he said. "My job isn't to find these kids and turn them in; I'm not a cop. I want to sit down with them, have a meal with them, talk to them instead of handing them food and watching them eat. Most of them tell me they just want someone to listen to them."
It's critical for Woody to find the county's homeless youth and make contact with them as soon as possible because typically, the youth are only on the streets an average of two to three days before someone approaches them with a dangerous proposition, whether it's drugs, forced prostitution, labor trafficking, and more. Pimps, traffickers and others who victimize homeless youth are well versed in knowing how to reach the kids, whether it's via physical locations such as shopping malls and mental health facilities or social media sites, he said.
Woody encourages other BCAT members to contact him if you think your organization or company can provide services or mentors to the youth.
"Even if these kids are voluntarily running away from their parents, they're still running into danger," he said.
Woody credits his involvement with BCAT to helping network with other county professionals who might help the youth he serves. He's an active member of BCAT, too, serving on both the Victim Focus and Community Outreach sub- committees.
"BCAT is a great way to network, to pick members' brains for ideas on helping the kids," he said. And BCAT's efforts in educating teachers, administrators, law enforcement, and others-a key focus of BCAT-is invaluable to the young people he sees every day.
If you're interested in getting involved in helping Synergy Project as a volunteer, a service provider, and/or a youth mentor, Woody wants to hear from you. He's always on the lookout for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who can assess the homeless youth's health needs. He welcomes contributions of food cards, clothes, hygiene products and camping gear for the youth. You can reach Woody by "liking" the Facebook page of "Synergy Project Bucks," you can call him at 215-990-3962, and you can email him at .

BCAT Welcomes New Co-Chair

BCAT member Patti Cullen has now joined Kathy Bennett as the new co-chair of the coalition. (You may remember reading about Patti in a recent BCAT Newsletter profile.) She is a founding member of BCAT and serves on the coalition's Community Outreach Sub-Committee, working on such projects as movie screenings, hotel outreach, 2018 conference planning, and community events to raise awareness about human trafficking in our county. Patti is on the Board of Directors of Soroptimist International of Indian Rock, Inc., a Bucks County professional women's service organization working to improve the lives of women and young girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Patti also serves a grant writer for Soroptimist International, securing grants for such projects as GED tutoring for women recovering from substance abuse and for human trafficking victim care kits. The kits are distributed to women and young girls identified as victims of human trafficking or domestic abuse.

Speaking of Patti Cullen...
BCAT co-chair Patti Cullen participated June 8 in a panel discussion titled "Current Efforts and Available Services" at the "Human Trafficking: Beyond Awareness to Action" conference presented by the Nationalities Service Center, The University of Thomas Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Dawn's Place, Villanova University Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Salvation Army New Day Drop-In Center.
The full-day conference--a response to increased awareness of human trafficking and the desire to curb the crime and aid victims and survivors-brought together survivors, law enforcement, attorneys, social service providers, health care providers, businesses and consumers to talk about the human trafficking situation in the area and to highlight services available throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Upcoming BCAT Quarterly Meeting!!

Don't miss the next BCAT meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 12 at NOVA's Jamison office. NOVA's Joyce Darakcioglu, MA, LPC, will recount her experience traveling in 2015 with the University of Pennsylvania Law School's International Human Rights Advocates (IHRA) for a week in villages and in the city of Chisinau. The aim was to educate citizens, police officers, law students and staff and elected officials about ways to prevent human trafficking and domestic violence in Moldova. She again joined IHRA in 2016 as they traveled to the island of Lesvos and to Athens, Greece, to study the legal and humanitarian needs of the migrants and refugees in Europe. Lesvos in particular has seen a massive influx in refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2015. Joyce interviewed refugees and volunteer workers in refugee camps on Lesvos.
Joyce will recount her experiences at the BCAT meeting, particularly the cultural issues and challenges of combatting HT in areas in which few services are available to victims.

Trafficking is Subject of New People's Light Play

Project Dawn

 By Karen Hartman
Directed by Abigail Adams
June 7 to July 9, 2017
Steinbright Stage, Philadelphia
National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere  Philadelphia is home to a revolutionary court designed by a passionate and shockingly funny group of women. Every day these lawyers, judges, parole officers, and staff work to transform the lives of women repeatedly convicted for prostitution. In this daring and vital new play in which eight actresses portray multiple participants and members of the court, Karen Hartman probes the thin lines between freedom and slavery, activism and obsession for women on both sides of the law. Inspired by Hartman's extensive first-hand research inside Project Dawn Court, this play is the first produced work from our nationally renowned New Play Frontiers Residency & Commission program at People's Light.
Best enjoyed by ages 16+. Contains sexually explicit language. Find more information about the event here.

Get "Stop the Traffic" Here
N ow you can find archived back issues of previous "Stop the Traffic", BCAT's e-newsletter by visiting
Care Kits
BCAT and members of Soroptimists of Indian Rock came together at NOVA to assemble more than 100 care kits. The kits became a reality thanks to a $1,300 grant received from Soroptimist to create human trafficking victim care kits. The kits provide essential personal care items to identified trafficking survivors in Bucks County. 

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