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March 1, 2016
OBAMA APPOINTEE TO GIVE KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT 10th ANNUAL MARYLAND CASA CONFERENCE
Towson, MD – Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman, a recent appointee to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking by President Barack Obama, is set to be the keynote address at the 10th Annual Maryland Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association Conference, taking place on Saturday, April 9th in Annapolis.
Piraino-Guzman grew up in Honduras, where he was the victim of severe child abuse, only to be traumatized even more at the age of 15 when he was kidnapped and brought to the U.S. and sold into human trafficking through Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). Even after being rescued and placed into the foster care system in America, Suamhirs continued to experience trauma until he was appointed a CASA volunteer by Voices for Children of San Diego. With his CASA’s help, Suamhirs had the consistent adult presence he desired and someone to help him make important decisions about his life and future.
“As young teen I had a CASA, Marcos; he was the rock on which I set my foundation,” commented Piraino-Guzman. “I’m a clear example that CASAs are angels in children’s lives. Someone who will turn your world upside down and make your life whole again, because lives of foster youth are oftentimes the wrong side up.”
Along with being a recent appointee to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, Piraino-Guzman is a contractor for Office Victims of Crime at the Department of Justice. A former Behavioral Health Specialist for Mental Health Services, Suamhirs also works as a Pathways Program Coordinator for Harmonium, Inc. where he and his team provide therapeutic and behavioral Services to youth struggling with moderate to severe mental illness.
“Sharing my life story has become a coping skill for me. I encountered a lot of trauma in my life, and traditional therapy is not my thing,” said Piraino-Guzman. “I live by experience of what I teach; I teach innovative ways to view and to deal with trauma.”
Human trafficking is not just an issue in Honduras or South America. The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force saw almost 400 survivors of human trafficking in the year 2014 in the state, according to the Maryland Human Trafficking Victim Identification and Services Survey. The Task Force saw 217 surviving victims in the year 2013.
The Maryland CASA Conference, entitled A Brighter Future for Maryland’s Children & Youth, will take place at the Judiciary Education and Conference Center in Annapolis. There are over 200 expected in attendance; the conference is open to volunteer advocates, children’s attorneys, and other child welfare professionals. To learn more about how you can participate in the conference, please visit www.marylandcasa.org.
About Maryland CASA Association
Maryland CASA Association is a private, non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to ensuring the rights of all children to safe, permanent homes. This mission is carried out in partnership with fifteen local CASA programs throughout the state, which recruit, train and supervise volunteers appointed by the court to serve as advocates for children under court protection due to abuse and neglect. Currently, CASA serves children in 21 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions. For more information, please visit www.marylandcasa.org.