On Monday I was asked to attend a meeting with our governor’s wife, First Lady Sandra Deal, as she toured our Wellspring for Girls home. Outfitted in black with my Nikon camera slung around my shoulder, I clicked around the cottage and snapped photos of Mrs. Deal’s tour, mentally taking notes of her comments and questions. Seeing the girls’ home for the second time, I was able to notice more of the details the home has to offer. After Mrs. Deal’s walking tour, our President Mary Frances Bowley led an information session in the living room of the home.

Mrs. Deal was the quiescence of Southern charm. She greeted each of us with a bright smile and a tender handshake. We had a good size crowd for the information session, and she made sure that everyone was sitting down and comfortable before the meeting began. Wanting to learn as much as she could from the session, she clasped her hands together and peppered Mary Frances with questions about the issue of human trafficking in Georgia and the specific needs of Wellspring Living. After the basic overview of our organization, Mrs. Deal had the privilege of meeting a recent graduate of our program and survivor of human trafficking named Haley*. This young woman shared her story; start to finish, of how she became engrossed in the world of trafficking, and was set free with the help of Wellspring. Mrs. Deal leaned in and listened intently as Haley talked about her time in middle school, her normal teenage interest in sports and her need for attention. Mrs. Deal noted that she used to be a schoolteacher and was quite interested in how educators could help with the issue of human trafficking. Haley noted that loud outbreaks, drastic mood swings and calls for attention, good or bad, are signs that a girl might be involved in trafficking. Mrs. Deal listened to Haley’s advice and noted that she was going to inform her friends in education to look out for these red flags. Mrs. Deal seemed quite touched by Haley’s story and her boldness to share it with the crowd.

Overall the tour and information session were beneficial for both parties. Not only is Mrs. Deal a delight to be around, her passion to see girls freed from trafficking in Georgia is such an encouragement to the Wellspring staff.

*The name of Wellspring’s recent graduate has been changed for her protection*