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Williamson Recognized for Addressing Human Trafficking, Helping Others

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — January 24, 2020 — 4 min read
Whether she’s answering a call from someone in need, learning something new, or looking for a way to help others, Tara Williamson often takes an idea to the next level. 

Recently, that has meant learning more about what she can do as an Access Clinician at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare when she answers a call from someone affected by human trafficking. It also has meant learning about the special needs of individuals who have been convicted of felonies and incarcerated. 

“Tara makes sound clinical judgments on a day-to-day basis to assist callers to the Access Call Center, many of whom are in crisis at the time of their call,” said Access Manager Shadale Jacobs. “In addition, she actively seeks new populations to educate herself on, and just recently went on a quest to find out what Cardinal is doing to address the issue of human trafficking. As a result, she will join an internal workgroup that is developing a clinical action plan related to the issue.”

In 2017, North Carolina had 221 reported human trafficking cases, ranking it eighth among all 50 states in the number of reported cases, according to the N.C. Department of Administration.

Williamson said she wants to be prepared for calls related to human trafficking. “With the increase in human trafficking in North Carolina, we will definitely be getting more calls, working with this population and making the appropriate supportive referrals,” she said.

Williamson also plans to go through volunteer training in her community to be able to provide direct support to individuals who have been affected by human trafficking. 

She also recently became interested in learning more about people who have been convicted of felonies and served time in prison because of the likelihood that they’d return if they don’t get help. 

“If we cannot find a means to better support them upon their release, these individuals can easily get stuck in this cycle,” she said. “So many of the individuals with records are minorities who haven’t participated in mental health treatment before and believed the negative stigma associated with getting such help. In some instances, our call center is their first exposure to speaking with mental health professionals.”

Williamson believes that provides Access Clinicians with a unique opportunity. “I believe that we have the ability to further feed into that stigma, or to completely change their outlook on getting help,” she said. “The better informed I can be with what is out there, the more support that I can ultimately offer the callers and community as a whole.”

Williamson said she has always wanted to help others. She grew up with a strong family support system, but knows that not everyone has that. “I realized early on that if everyone could have that strong level of support, guidance, and role modeling that it would make a big difference. So I just want to be that one person doing my part,” she said.

Whether it’s someone talking about suicide who needs immediate intervention, or a person who only speaks Spanish and didn’t know where to find help, or an individual released from prison who is struggling to get back on their feet and hasn’t felt heard, Williamson wants them to know they’re not alone.

“When we can help those people who feel alone and make them feel that they have someone in their corner, even in the short term, that is a win,” Williamson said. 

Williamson’s desire to help people also recently inspired her to find a way for Access team members to do something as a team to help a family during the holidays. She reached out to a local charity and found a mom and four children including one 30 year old son who has quadriplegia. She coordinated efforts for members of Access and others to provide the children in that family with a PS4 game system, several age appropriate games, and gift cards for each child to make their own purchases. The family also received personal care items, pajamas, robes, slippers, and gift cards to the movies, Walmart, and Subway for the whole family to enjoy.

“I believe that if people are in need, and you are able to help, then you should do just that,” she said. “I often try and find ways to volunteer in different settings, but this year I just took a chance to see if the Salvation Army had any families in need, and surprisingly they had one that seemed to be perfect to try and assist.

In her spare time, Williamson also volunteers at her church, enjoys hiking and loves do-it-yourself home improvement projects – replacing light fixtures, putting things together, sprucing the yard. Recently, she took that to the next level, too, completing a basic plumbing class. 
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