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AT ANY SECOND, Lindsey White Cheatham could spring into action as a statewide human trafficking advocate at the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC).

She attends meetings and takes calls throughout each weekday, but her role within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit (GBI HEAT) carries far more than a conventional schedule.

Cheatham has to be on-call at a moment’s notice. She could leave her home at any time to meet with a victim of human trafficking anywhere across the state of Georgia. The chime of her phone’s ring serves as the alarm clock.

“I am on call 24/7,” Cheatham said. “Every day looks different. You never know what is going to pop up.”

All the while, Cheatham balances a career where she never can rest and works to create change in the lives of others with the motherhood of a 1-year-old boy, Maverick Jax Cheatham. The class of 2012 Buford alumna serves as a full-time stay-at-home mother and celebrates Mother’s Day with the perspective of her juggling act.

Cheatham carries an immense amount of pride in each of her roles, and works tirelessly in each of them to reach her dreams of making an influence in the chaotic world we live in today.

“Lindsey is the most selfless human being I’ve ever met,” said Brandon Cheatham, Buford alumnus and Lindsey’s husband. “She gives so much of herself to so many things on a daily basis. Lindsey is the most important piece of our family.”

Courtesy of Lindsey Cheatham

DURING HIGH SCHOOL, Cheatham wanted to be a teacher and had her mind set on it. She dove deep into the career pathway with David Snell, and educating others became her passion.

After enrolling at Reinhardt to continue her soccer career at the NAIA level, she took a sociology course with Dr. Donald Gregory. Cheatham learned about the inner workings of human society and how development, structure and functioning connect.

Cheatham took a different route from her teaching aspirations at that time. Gregory played an instrumental part in a change of perspective, and Cheatham saw a way to help people in a different light. She continued to take sociology and criminal justice classes at Reinhardt before pursuing her masters’ degree at Kennesaw State University in international conflict resolution.

All Cheatham knew at the time is that she wanted to help people like her parents did throughout her childhood. She didn’t know much about advocacy at the time, but a former classmate at Reinhardt mentioned it and an idea flourished into something tangible.

“I thought I would go into the Peace Corps or something,” Cheatham said. “But I wanted to do something with advocacy, children and helping the victims who are right here in our backyard.”

Suddenly, Cheatham found her niche. She began a five-year career within a Cobb County child advocacy center, then moved on with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council assigned to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. She has completed eight years of advocacy work and teaches in a different light by training those who aspire to be in a similar role.

“She has a great heart that’s the size of Texas,” said one of Cheatham’s colleagues who cannot reveal their identity due to their role. They will be referred to as “Tom” for the sake of this publication. “She truly has a selfless and servant heart. You don’t see that much these days in our world. She puts others first and is a light to the world.”

Courtesy of Lindsey Cheatham

AT THEIR WORST, Cheatham meets eye-to-eye with victims of labor or sex trafficking. Admittedly, it takes an emotional toll. It can be physically taxing to jump from location to location.

There’s nowhere she’d rather be as an advocate, however. She sees victims who have their lives torn apart and revives them in order to see them blossom.

“It can get as bad as you can imagine,” Tom said of Cheatham, who could have to travel to any location from Buford to Savannah at a moment’s notice. “Folks like Lindsey have to be ready and know how to respond and reach with each and every one of the victims. Everyone is different and their needs are different.”

Cheatham said those in her role see “the worst of humanity” when working alongside law enforcement. She said she’s fortunate not to work directly with the traffickers and have a victim-focused approach. That doesn’t mean, however, that Cheatham doesn’t study the full scope of a case.

The reality of human trafficking cases don’t match what’s seen in Hollywood. It’s not always someone in a white van coming to pick a victim up. The crime can happen anywhere, and it usually involves someone offering a safe space or money when that’s far from the truth. These victims are used for jobs or sexual favors in what is defined as modern-day slavery. The act of human trafficking is prominent in Georgia due to the state’s vast agricultural presence.

Advocates such as Cheatham meet with the victims face-to-face and offer medical services, counseling options and places for safe sheltering. Some victims, especially adult women, might not see themselves as victims and refuse help as part of free will.

Some of them, however, show appreciation for people like Cheatham and carry on bonds for years to come.

“We find the light in the darkness,” Cheatham said.

Courtesy of Wild and Grace Photography

THE CHEATHAMS RECEIVED¬†the greatest Valentine’s Day gift in 2023. Maverick was born and it changed their entire world.

Brandon and Lindsey became parents and the most rewarding job of life began. The 1-year-old, whom many refer to as Brandon’s twin, offered a new perspective as the Cheathams’ started their juggling act of at-home life with the professional world.

“He fills my life with so much love and joy,” Lindsey said. “Everything is magic through his eyes. It has been the best journey to watch it. I’m blessed to be his mom.”

With Lindsey working a 24/7 schedule, challenges present themselves. Brandon and Lindsey admit that it’s not easy to manage it all, but they put their young son in the best position to flourish as he continues to grow.

“My driving force is my son,” Lindsey said. “I want to make the best world I can for him to grow up in.”

During each day, Lindsey gives maximum effort to each case that comes through. She goes on operations — even if it be at 2 a.m. — without a second thought. She takes an immense amount of pride in helping complete strangers better their lives.

All of it, however, circles back to Lindsey’s most-cherished role of motherhood and love for Maverick.

“We talk about how important it is for our son to see his mother be strong and succeed,” Brandon said. “She is setting the perfect example of how we will raise him to be.

“He is blessed to have a role model in his mom.”

RESOURCES FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING: If you suspect human trafficking or need resources for human trafficking, visit endhtga.org or call 1-866-ENDHTGA (1-866-363-4842).

FEATURED PHOTO: Courtesy of Katie Redmon Photography

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