We had the good fortune of connecting with Francesca Douglass-Franco and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Francesca, how does your business help the community?

Humansave is a nonprofit mental health organization that provides specialized treatment to human trafficking victims and their families, while also facilitating a prevention and early intervention program for at risk members of the community. As we strongly believe that we are in a unique position to shed light on not only the effects of exploitation, but on the core factors that contribute to making individuals vulnerable to it, we also host workshops for schools, businesses, other service provider organizations, and the community.

There are 40 million victims across the world, 10 million of whom are children (International Labour Organization, 2020); and of the 23,500 runaway youth in the United States, one in seven are likely victims of child sex trafficking (UNICEF USA, 2020). Not saying this to depress or scare anyone, just to especially highlight the fact that investing in the healing of survivors has never been more important. With the knowledge that every perpetrator was once a victim, we then realize that every individual who is healed is empowered to end the cycle of multi-generational abuse. More healing = less victims AND less perpetrators.

While we are a relatively new organization (established in 2017), we believe that the powerful work that our therapists do with their clients will be far-reaching; indeed, some of our success stories include individuals who transcended the impossible to regain custody of their children, begin their careers, find stable housing, and give back to the community by volunteering. Every day, our supporters, clinicians, volunteers, and staff are changing the world with their kindness–and every day that our clients show up to do the very difficult and painful work of healing, they are reshaping every generation that comes after them, and rewriting their legacy to one filled with love, success, and HOPE.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?

What I am most proud of, and what I believe sets Humansave apart, is that each and every member of our team is personally dedicated to our mission to end human trafficking. This means that all of our clinicians, staff, volunteers, and board members are committed to truly understanding the often-ugly components that contribute to the existence of human trafficking, and possess the humility and empathy necessary to treating our clients with the care, love, and support that they deserve.

This dedication is what has helped us gain recognition for what we do–indeed the very best compliment we have ever received is that one of our former clients started referring survivors to us once she started working for another anti trafficking organization. Together with our Clinical Director, our therapists consistently go above and beyond, honing their skills and doing the hard work of also healing in order to give their clients the very best of themselves. I believe this is what makes us most unique as a mental health organization.

I’m excited to say that despite the challenges of the pandemic, 2020 was very good to us; we have more donor support than ever, received more grants and corporate donations than ever, and have a wealth of opportunities lined up for us this year. Community support has always been really important to me in determining how successful we are, because I view donations as people’s personal investments in our work, and in the healing of survivors. It shows me that we’re making ripples, and are coming closer to our goal of changing the world.

I won’t say that getting to where we are today was easy–but I will say that I was extremely fortunate for all of the support that I received along the way. There were a great many obstacles, probably more than I realized at the time, but when I have a vision for something, I tend to be uniquely dedicated to making it happen. I overcame most of these obstacles by taking a deep breath and taking things one step at a time to assess what needed to be done, and if something was broken, how to best approach a solution. As a result, I have (passably) learned a great many skills I never intended to dabble in (including Illustrator, social media marketing, billing, and book keeping among others).

I’d say the most difficult challenge was when Humansave existed only in my head and on paper. I felt like if I forgot to think about it for even one second–if I took even one day off–that it would POOF, just disappear. Eventually others started to share that mental burden with me, and now it exists completely apart from me. As a mother of two, I can firmly say that this process was akin to giving birth (although it took much longer than 9 months). I guess that also brings me to the most important lesson I learned from this whole process–that everything will simply take as much time as it needs. I couldn’t rush when we would finally get clients, and I couldn’t rush when we would finally start facilitating workshops in schools. I learned how to be patient and that the most important component to making anything happen is remaining dedicated to that vision–to seeing it and believing in it until you suddenly blink and there it is right before you (and everyone else).

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Rainbow Harbor Lighthouse for the beautiful view of Downtown Long Beach from the other side of the water Kin Thai- hands down our favorite Thai restaurant
Los Compadres for Mexican food
1897 for Long Beach-themed clothing
Blind Donkey for drinks
Parker’s Lighthouse–great views of the ocean and delicious food

Pre-pandemic, there was always something going on downtown–from food trucks, to dancing, to bands. We loved listening to live music at Sevilla (downstairs), dancing to Latin music at Alegría, and eating at George’s Greek Cafe.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

Oh man, I am a firm believer that it takes a village, and so I know that every accomplishment in my life is a culmination of the love and support of others. First and foremost, I have to give a shoutout to my husband, who is the most amazing partner and father to our 7 year old and 1 year old daughters; he doesn’t just give me “a break” from time to time, he is my equal as a parent. He holds down the fort, and sincerely cheers on my lofty (and seemingly impossible) goals. He gives me hugs and makes me comfort food when I’ve had a heavy day, and in so many ways, I wouldn’t be able to do the work I do without him. And so, a shoutout to my daughter, Anya. She shows me what unconditional love is each day, how kindness can change the world, and she bakes the most delicious goodies, which she spontaneously brings me while I’m working. She is my inspiration.

Huge shoutout to my mom! Incredibly cliche’ , but in addition to her unconditional love and belief in me, she is Humansave’s Clinical Director, and has built our clinical program into a world class Transcending Trauma Treatment program. Even when Humansave was no more than a thought, she believed in my dream so much that she donated her time to creating the framework. To this day, she still does much of the work probono, and despite being in a completely different time zone (she lives in Portugal!), she always makes herself available for a long chat–whether work-related or for matters of the heart.

Despite the unfathomable evil that I see, working in this field has truly surrounded me with the kindest, most inspiring souls on this Earth. The support of these individuals (in no particular order) has been integral to Humansave’s success:
-Jackie Tan, who is now one of our board members; her belief in me and in Humansave’s mission opened so many doors for us. She’s an amazing confidante, and always lends us support and guidance to propel us forward.
-Rohida Khan, with the Department of Homeland Security. We will be forever grateful to her for entrusting us with our first 12 clients. Her faith in us led us credence, which in turn led others to give a brand new organization a chance.
-Detective Kim and Vanessa Garcia with Gardena PD’s Juvenile Justice Intervention Program. They are constantly looking for ways to incorporate us into their programs, and support us however they can (they even house equipment and files for us because we don’t have the space). And more than allies, they have become great friends.
Maleka Chris, founder of Love Beyond Limits. She is a wonderful friend and I appreciate her camaraderie probably more than she knows. Her organization supports youth and families by facilitating programming that builds them up to genuinely and sustainably support each other, host a retreat that gives them a taste of what is possible, and even hands out food and gifts amidst a pandemic. She’s a shining light in our community, a true hero amongst us, and she is an inspiration to me.
-Jen Harris, with Behavioral Health Services and Founder of Connected to Lead. Jen connected us to Detective Kim and has never stopped supporting us since. She is always looking for opportunities to put our work out there, hosted our first 100+ attendee online seminar, and always readily shares her knowledge to help us grow.

I really could go on for pages, but I will stop myself there!

Website: humansave.org

Instagram: humansave_org

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/18680253

Facebook: humansave.org

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