01/16/2013 05:31 pm ET Updated Jan 17, 2013

FBI Awards Nuns For Anti-Human Trafficking Work In San Francisco

It seems a group of San Francisco nuns has been doing more than feeding the hungry.

The Sisters of the Holy Family received the FBI's annual Director's Community Leadership Award last month for the congregation's work against human trafficking.

The award was created in 1990 as a way for the FBI to publicly address organizations who contribute to violence prevention and education.

"[Sisters of the Holy Family] personify the true meaning of the award by identifying a need and making it their mission to raise awareness of some of the worst crimes against our youth,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Joel Moss during the ceremony.

In 2008, the Sisters of the Holy Family were asked to provide shelters for human trafficking victims, but due to housing limitations, were unable meet the request. However, the idea inspired a larger project.

Over the next four years, the nuns launched a major campaign against human trafficking. Some collected blankets, clothing and toiletries for victims living in shelters. Others enrolled in a six month training course to educate the community on the dangers of human trafficking, later launching a presentation series for civic groups across the city. Over time, the sisters launched a letter-writing campaign, donated roughly $30,000 to local organizations that fight trafficking, pushed for Internet safety and anti-trafficking legislation and called for transparency in corporate supply chains.

“We are truly grateful for this award,” said Sister Gladys Guenther, president of the Sisters of the Holy Family. “This honor reinforces our commitment to raising awareness for victims of human trafficking and crimes against children, offering creative means and legislative advocacy for victims of these terrible crimes.”

President Obama declared January to be Human Trafficking Prevention month through a proclamation earlier this month. California is one of the top four states for human trafficking, according to a 2012 report from the California Department of Justice.



SF's Top 12 Stories Of 2012