Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2022

Serving the Un derserved The “underserved” constitutes a broad category that envelops the poor, sick, hungry, homeless, uneducated, abused, and magrinalized. From their modest beginnings in 19th century Dublin, the Sisters of Mercy made caring for the underserved the cornerstone of their mission. So, too, it is at Mercyhurst University, where that mission is always at work in one form or another. Here are three ways Mercyhurst is working to right wrongs, fix t he broken, and keep the Sisters’ legacy alive in their community.

TAKEN – Mercyhurst fghts human trafcking

Criminal records: A modern-day scarlet letter The availability of criminal records on the internet poses overwhelming obstacles to citizens who have paid their debt to society and are trying to move forward with their lives. For one, they have been linked to perpetuating poverty because arrests and convictions are part of background checks that often impede quali f ed individuals from getting jobs with family-sustaining wages. For instance, should a 35-year-old single mother who was convicted of a drug o f ense when she was 18, and has since earned a college degree and not reo f ended, be hindered in her job Pennsylvania, and here in Erie County, is the Pardon Project, a vehicle for granting pardons to nonviolent o f endesr andthose meeting certain criteria, said Dr. Maria Garase, associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Mercyhurst. Garase and department colleague Atty. Tina Fryling, along with Colin Hurley, executive director of community engagement, are members of a steering committee whose aim is to take the Pardon Project of Erie County from concept to reality. search because of a criminal record? One solution that is gaining traction in “Our eff o rts on the committee focus on c reating a Pardon Hub where trainedvolunteers known as Pardon Coaches can help individuals complete a pardon applicationthat, if approved, would help them to earn a second chance in our community,” said Fryling who, along with Garase and Hurley, completed Pardon Coach training through the Erie County Bar Association’s continuing legal education program. In the long term, Garase said, the goal is to train and oversee students who will help low-income clients navigate the pardon application process,

Anyone who has seen the movie “Taken” starring Liam Neeson remembers the terrifying moment when his daughter is kidnapped. But that’s just the beginning, as she is sold into a sex-tra fc king ring. As a form of modern-day slavery, tr af ckers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of forced labor or sexual services against their will. The example in “Taken,” while chilling, is the extreme. More commonly, the process involves grooming, a painstakingly slow, furtive exercise. For several years, Mercyhurst has been at the front lines of various pursuits to combat the proli f c social problem. The university o f ers coursework on human tr af cking taught by Dr. Nicole John-Danzell, assistant professor of applied sociology/social work. It also maintains a student club and coordinates a communitywide organization, the Anti-Human Tr af cking Coalition Force, to connect local groups working in th e f eld toward a collective approach in combatting the crisis. Deborah Davies, assistant professor of intelligence studies, oversees both the coalition, which includes 150 community members, and the club, which

has more than 60 student members. Some of the latest e f orts include:

THE SOAP PROJECT Victims often say the only time they are alone while being tr af cked is in motel bathrooms. That’s why members of the Student Anti-Human Tr af cking Club are participating in the SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) Project. Students trained by

community coalition members are distributing bars of soap – wrapped with a red band bearing the National Human Tr af cking Hotline number (888-373-7888) – to local motels. The group also o f ers training for motel staff t o help them spot signs of tr af cking. 211 SERVICE In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission designated 2 11 the phone number for information and referrals to social services and other assistance. The 2 11 service is provided by more than 200 local organizations committed to serving their communities. In Erie, that organization is the United Way. Davies said the Anti-Human Tr af cking Coalition Force is actively working with the agency to provide human tra fc kinginformation. HIGH SCHOOL AWARENESS PILOT PROJECT Mercyhurst students are rolling out a pilot program to bring the message of human tr af cking to high school students. “Our model is to have a peer-to-peer conversation between Mercyhurst students and high school students, allowing for real-life discussion about using apps and other online features that could inadvertently open them up to predators,” Davies said. For more information on the anti-human tr af cking eff o rts at Mercyhurst, contact Davies at .


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online