Cassie Hammett Presented With the 2019 FBI Director's Community Leadership Award
NEW ORLEANS - Cassie Hammett is a dynamic trailblazer in the effort of community involvement and improvement and is one of the single most valuable resources to the New Orleans Division, Shreveport Resident Agency Child Exploitation Task Force.
In 2007, Ms. Hammett founded a non-profit organization called The Hub, a truly unique program designed to reach out and minister to the community's most desperate members. In her own words, this organization was created for the "widow, the orphan, the hungry, the poor, the exploited and the outcast." Initially, this ministry, under the name of The Lovewell, focused on the homeless population, providing them with methods of increasing their independence in order to better their own situation. In this program, individuals are encouraged to attend classes and courses designed to educate in important life skills, in order to gain points, they can then use to provide for their own needs. These points give them access to resources like a clothing store, laundromat, food store, and hair salon, all run by volunteers of the organization.
In 2011, The Hub branched into a different ministry as well. While the programs for the homeless and poverty-stricken remained in full force under The Lovewell, a second avenue of this organization formed to address the needs of a population generally dismissed, ignored, forgotten, or avoided. This new subset of The Hub, known as Purchased: Not for Sale, focuses on providing services for individuals involved in the sex industry. Purchased ministers to exotic dancers, women who have been involved in prostitution, adult victims of sex trafficking, and children who have been victims of trafficking or who are deemed at high risk for being recruited into this industry.
Purchased: Not for Sale included four different programs: Recovered, Reclaimed, Rejuvenate, and Demand.
Recovered is a two-year long residential program designed for women who have been involved in prostitution and want out of that lifestyle. Purchased provides housing for these women and a series of classes to teach them essential life skills, as well as classes to help heal from addiction.
Reclaimed focuses on underage individuals who have been victims of human trafficking. Purchased has partnered with Department of Children and Family Services to help train volunteer foster families in specialized methods to work with child victims of sex trafficking.
Rejuvenate focuses on teenage girls that are considered high-risk for being recruited into the sex trafficking industry. Rejuvenate seeks to help restore and build relationships with the teenage girls and their families to set up a support structure that might otherwise be lacking.
Demand focuses on those seeking to fulfill that demand within the sex industry in conjunction with Clint Davis Counseling services, to educate the solicitors of the sex industry. First and second time offenders can attend the program’s “John School,” in an attempt to affect change at the most basic level: the demand.
The Hub is a non-profit organization, funded entirely through donations, more than 30 different churches, and more than 35 community organizations, including Juvenile Justice, medical doctors, rehab programs, GED programs, food banks, employment programs, and many others.
In 2014, Ms. Hammett became the first and only non-government organization member of the FBI New Orleans, Shreveport Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF). Ms. Hammett and Purchased: Not for Sale have become invaluable resources to the efforts of special agents and other Task Force officers working child exploitation and human trafficking cases in the Shreveport area. Ms. Hammett and the employees at Purchased are on-call any time the CETF needs them. Ms. Hammett offers services to any adult women arrested by FBI or other law enforcement, and at times has been able, through her love and care of these women, to gain valuable insights and information that have been beneficial in the execution of the FBI’s human trafficking investigations.
In addition, Ms. Hammett is always available to assist in whatever capacity when a juvenile victim is recovered. At times this has meant helping to find housing, and at times it has meant bringing food to the child victim and sitting with her and law enforcement all night because housing could not be found. Ms. Hammett has even provided trial testimony in a case involving the trafficking of a 14-year-old girl, the result of which saw the pimp receive a 50-year federal prison sentence in 2019.
Ms. Hammett is a visionary; she has seen the problem and has chosen to not only combat it, but to make every effort to prevent it and to offer assistance in recovery from it. This is true of both her endeavors through The Lovewell and through Purchased: Not for Sale. She has established an oasis in a community where poverty and prostitution are rampant. But she’s not content to stop there. Ms. Hammett’s program is invaluable in the effort to combat the sex industry in the Shreveport/Bossier City area, but the sex industry is everywhere. To this end, Ms. Hammett has developed a template for her program for other cities in other states that might want to fight this problem. Already, she has helped launch a Purchased program in Las Vegas, Nevada, including facilitating a discussion between the organizers of that program and special agents of the Shreveport Resident Agency in order to help develop a plan for the Las Vegas program to effectively work with law enforcement in their area. Ms. Hammett is not only a resource to this community, but to every community that has or will follow in her footsteps.
On Friday October 2, 2020, FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran, Supervisory Special Resident Agent Chris Plants, and Community Outreach Specialist Lori Chauvin will formally present Ms. Hammett with the 2019 Director’s Community Leadership Award for her tremendous efforts with the homeless and sex industry communities.