Circle of Care’s Carpenter has statewide award named after him

Published 5:38 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

VALLEY — A local individual who has dedicated his time to spread awareness of human trafficking had an award named after him by the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers.

Adrian Carpenter with the Circle of Care Center for Families and the head of the Renew Hope 85 Initiative is now the namesake of the Adrian Carpenter Award for Compassionate Leadership.

“The intent is that somebody throughout the state will receive the award each year for compassionate leadership,” Johnathon Herston, executive director of Circle of Care said.

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The Circle of Care belongs to the Alabama Network of Family Resources, which is made up of more than a dozen centers throughout the state. Carpenter said the standards within the organization is voted on by the Alabama Legislature for accountability.

Carpenter said the organization needed to be able to collect its data better to tell stories throughout the state. So, he created a data collection system — not just for Circle of Care — but for all the resource centers throughout the state. The data reveals how many people the centers serve, home many programs are available and how many hours of service they all provide.

Carpenter said he was “totally blindsided” when he got the award.

“I serve people — that is why I do social work,” Carpenter said. “I want to work with exploited populations. I never thought I would be given an award for this.”

Outside of his work with the resource centers, he spends a lot of his time coordinating Renew Hope 85, which is a program dedicated to educating, informing and training community members and front-line workers in the issues related to human trafficking, according to its website.

In 2016, Carpenter attended a conference in Birmingham where he learned many of the victims being trafficked are between the ages of 12 and 15 years old. They figured out it wasn’t just a human rights issue but also a child abuse issue. 

“I never did any of this to receive accolades,” Carpenter said. “I do this because I have the ability and the opportunity, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Herston said Carpenter has also been influential on the governor’s state task force to end human trafficking as well as the attorney general’s executive council for human trafficking.

“He’s really been a leader in this field and issue across the state, and we are really lucked and blessed to have him as a resource locally to tackle this issue,” he said.

While the awards are great, Carpenter said the biggest reward comes when he knows the message he’s trying to spread is heard. Renew Hope hosts several forums with the public to inform them on what signs to spot concerning human trafficking. He said he’s had people come to him and said they noticed something fishy and made a call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“We are changing the conversation,” he said. “The message is getting out.”

However, there is still work to be done, Carpenter said. He cited a University of Alabama study that revealed an estimated 5,000 people are trafficked in Alabama each month, and more than half were minors, he said.

“We know it’s here, but it’s that much more hopeful when people learn what to do and how to respond,” Carpenter said.