Htet Htet Rodgers is using her past experiences in life to help educate others today.

Rodgers is the Child Trafficking Coordinator with Rapides Children's Advocacy Network (CAN) out of Alexandria.

She spoke to the Leesville Rotary Club this week to inform others about children’s advocacy organizations and her personal relationship with the foster care system.

In her position as Child Trafficking Coordinator with Rapides CAN, Rodgers and the rest of the staff coordinate the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement officials, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians.

They work to foster hope and healing for child victims of physical and sexual assault and their families.

Rodgers spoke about the community work the Rapides CAN does in its endeavors to provide services to aide in the healing process for child victims, including services provided by specially trained forensic interviewers, counselors and advocates.

The work she does through CAN strikes a chord in Rodgers’ heart. Rodgers grew up in the foster care system and credits her life now to her relationship with the foster care system. She is able to identify and empathize with the children she works to keep safe, because she was once a part of the same system.

“I would not be where I am today if it were not for the support of my foster family, the system which provides foster services, the supportive community in which I thrived, as well as the hardships and triumphs I encountered along the way.” Rodgers shared.

She has traveled the country speaking about and advocating for foster care services and the children for which it provides care. She also interned in Washington, DC, advocating and providing policy contributions to continue and improve the work of the system of foster care.

Rodgers is currently completing her undergraduate degree at Northwestern State University and is focused on using her education to continue to give back to children’s advocacy.

"I want to invest in the organization that did so much for me, continuing to work in child welfare and find a way to contribute on an international level.

“Every day I am reaching for my own goals with one hand, I am also reaching to invest and lift someone else up with the other." Rodgers said.

She concluded by expressing her gratitude to the Rotary Club for inviting her to speak saying, "The support from the community is the reason I'm here today."

After Rodgers concluded, the Rotary club talked about its upcoming event happening in September.

The Annual George C. Thompson Memorial Cross Country Meet is set for Sept. 22 and will take place at Fort Polk's Honor Field (and surrounding ground terrain).

Rotary president, Brenda Willis billed the event as “a wonderful, challenging and fun-filled Meet for community students.”

School coaches interested in enrolling their students may send an email to lrc.crosscountry@gmail.com to notify which school is wanting to participate and number of runners to be registered (boys and girls separately).

Coaches can also visit www.leesvillerotaryclub.org and click on the participation link to submit a school participation form.

Additional information can be found on the Leesville Rotary Club website.

The deadline for registration is Sept. 18.