About Us

The Underground New England is a faith-based non-profit organization that exists to eradicate human trafficking in Connecticut and New England through awareness, prevention, and intentional survivor support.

Our Story

Established by eight church leaders in August 2012, we have grown into a community which includes churches, businesses, survivor-leaders, stakeholders, and multiple organizations around the region.

From its inception, The Underground has believed in the power of community and collaboration with stakeholders. As we learn from and work with state agencies and front line workers, we develop initiatives to support the anti-trafficking movement. Ending human trafficking and sexual exploitation requires the efforts and voices of many, and we are committed to working with those agencies and individuals steadfastly involved in the abolition movement.

The Underground is a catalyst in unifying the church in the anti-trafficking movementUGNE is a designated 501C3 non-profit organization as of December 2021.

"To feel safe and knowing my life is changing for the better not worse is so amazing. I can't thank you all enough.”

The Underground New England Client

About Our Organization

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.

To comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4, ESV)

  • To transform a culture of human trafficking and exploitation through the healing love of Christ Jesus
  • To provide intentional survivor support that will pave a pathway to freedom and wholeness for survivors
  • To educate and sensitize our communities through awareness events and prevention strategies
  • To engage community partners for a unified approach to the eradication of human trafficking in Connecticut
  1. We are a ministry that seeks to glorify God in all that we say and do.
  2. We are a community that strives to be the heart, the hands, and the feet of Jesus as we come alongside men and women who have been traumatized by human trafficking.
  3. We do not proselytize our clients; we only demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus.
  4. We are people of integrity and honesty as demonstrated in our actions and our words.

Founded on Divine instruction to “observe and pray” and grounded in Divine mandate of Isaiah 61:1-4, The Underground NE holds steadfast to these beliefs:

  • We believe that there is only one Savior and only one gospel – Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God who gave Himself as the only ransom for sinners. There is no other name by which we must be saved.
  • We believe that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all. We therefore share His compassion and His concern for justice and reconciliation and for the liberation of humankind from every kind of oppression and exploitation. We believe in our calling and purpose to restore God-ordained value to human life that has been exploited.
  • We believe that because humankind is made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, color, culture, religion, national origin, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited.
  • We believe God has called us to be His agent of love:
    • to bring the good news of healing, restoration and peace to the poor and the afflicted, to mend and heal broken hearts and broken lives, and make them whole again;
    • to care for those who mourn the loss of their childhood and the years that have been stolen from them, to replace their mourning with blessings and their despair with hope, to raise them from the ashes to stand as beautiful oak trees in the garden of the Lord.
    • to raise transformed and empowered change agents who, having experienced His love and His power, will bring the good news of healing, restoration and peace to others who are afflicted.

"How caring and compassionate you guys are helps me feel comfortable going out in the world, knowing I'm not alone."

The Underground New England Client

About Our Care Model

Day 1 – Day 30: Exiting Exploitation

Mentor and mentee meet at least two to three times per week.  

  • Triage to assess for trafficking and introduce AMP 

  • Food, clothing, short-term housing 

  • Medical care 

  • Phone, transportation 

  • Referral assessment 

  • Church-care liaison 

Day 30 – Day 180: Enrollment in AMP  

Intentional mentor/mentee hours maintained weekly 

  • Short-term housing 

  • Assist with financial request 

  • Begins plans for long-term housing 

  • Training and retooling 

  • Bridge to case management 

  • First wellness assessment 

  • Community building 

Day 180 and onwards:

Intentional mentor/mentee hours maintained two to four times per month. 

  • Has a 1 – 3 year plan for establishing stable income and independent housing 

  • Stable short-term housing 

  • Enrolled in RAISE UP* or another housing program.  

  • Rewriting internal narratives 

  • Continued Phase 2 supports and Community building 

  • Completed at least three of four Phase 2 completion metrics 

  • Maintains regular contact with Mentor 

As mentees progress to full independent living, AMP is still available to men and women when needed.  Our commitment to our mentees: 

  • Intentional mentor/mentee hours 2 to 3 times per year 

  • Lifelong relationship full access to our community and services 

  • Continued supportive relationship with Mentors indefinitely 

  • ‘Graduation’ celebration of achieving independence 

*RAISE UP is UGNE’s incredible in-house financial support program unique to AMP, designed to assist mentees towards the goal of stable and affordable housing.  

"What I really like about it is that my mentor relates to me, but has boundaries and doesn’t judge me at all. She’s one of the only true peers I feel like I’ve had."

The Underground New England Client

Our Leadership

Nadine A. Thomas, PhD

Executive Director

Lori Blackburn

Community Engagement & Development Coordinator

Amy Hayashida

Director of Programs & Operations

Our Board of Directors

John Steven Dischinger

Board Chair

Yvette Monica Young

Vice Chair

Brian Fish

Treasurer

Jermika Renee Cost

Secretary

Christopher Prabhash Bidorini

Director

Andre Joseph Riendeau

Director

Brian Daniel Boulay

Director & Co Founder

Andy O’Shea

Director

Caroline Salazar

Director

Join us in the fight to end human trafficking