Sunday, January 18, 2009

Update on Recession and Resiliency

I mentioned in my last post that I was leaving the office as Rachel was trying to help someone have a safe place to stay that night...here's the email she sent out next morning. Thought I would share it with you.

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Why I'm glad to still be in the office at 2am....

Dear Friend,

Tonight we received a crisis phone call. A young woman, Stacey, was desperately trying to escape her pimp and had no-one to turn to and nowhere to go. Stacy was recruited when she was 15 years old, and is now 21. Throughout her six years as a domestic trafficking victim, Stacey has experienced daily violence and abuse and tonight was simply tired. Tired of being scared, tired of being abused, tired of being sold. Several weeks ago, Stacey saw our film on Showtime, Very Young Girls, which helped her realize that there was a way out. Tonight, she came to GEMS with only the clothes on her back and asked us to help her.

Stacey told us she was too scared to stay in New York as her pimp had threatened to kill her and she believed him. We called all over the country, looking for s helter. Finally, a wonderful survivor-led program in Minnesota, Breaking Free, told us they had a bed. We bought a plane ticket and tomorrow morning Stacey will fly to Minnesota to start a new life, free from exploitation and violence.

Tonight reminded me once again of how critical GEMS services are, particularly during these challenging times. Last week, we were hit by the state budget cuts and had to lay off three staff and close one program. Yet fortunately tonight we were able to provide Stacey with food, warm clothing, toiletries, and somewhere to sleep tonight. We were also able to purchase a plane ticket that will help Stacey make a complete break from her exploiter and give her the opportunity to begin her life. As the funding sources dry up we’re obviously concerned that our ability to help girls like Stacey will be compromised. As the only non-profit in New York State serving these girls, it’s vital that our doors stay open and that we’re able to support girls in crisis.

That’s why next week we’re launching a new campaign. In honor of our 10 year anniversary, we’ll be asking people to set up a monthly donation of $10 and to recruit 10 friends to do the same. Tonight though, prior to our official launch, I’m asking you as personal friends, colleagues, and current supporters to kick off this campaign by making your own monthly $10 commitments and rallying 10 people to support our critical work. Even in these challenging times, all of us can make a $10 monthly donation. It might not seem like a lot, but every $10 gift can make a real difference in the life of a trafficked girl.

Tonight $10 bought Stacey some Chinese food and a pair of gloves. Another night, with another girl escaping the streets, $10 might be used to buy a bag of toiletries, some underwear, or meal at McDonalds. Ten dollars from you, and your ten friends, can pay for a night of shelter for a girl in crisis, or college application fees for a girl who=E 2s in the next stage of her life. Every penny counts. Tonight I’ve kicked off the campaign by setting up my monthly $10 donation. I’m asking you to do the same.

I didn’t intend to write an email tonight. I didn’t intend to still be at the office at 2am. In fact, I thought I’d be home in bed by now! But I’m really, really thankful to be a part of this amazing, fulfilling work and to be lucky enough to serve such brave and resilient girls and young women. I’m so thankful that Stacey called us this evening. I’m thankful that she saw our movie and was touched. I’m thankful that our doors are open, that we could provide her with food, shelter, clothing, and love. I’m thankful that after 10 years in existence that GEMS continues to be a safe haven, a place of love and support for girls who feel alone.

I’m especially thankful for all the support that we have received over the ye ars from people like you, who’ve committed with us to stand against the commercial sexual exploitation of girls. Please, email all your friends and ask them to watch Very Young Girls on Showtime On Demand and to make a $10 monthly donation at www.gems-girls.org It’ll only take 10 minutes but it’ll help the next Stacey that walks through our doors in need.

Warmly,
Rachel



Rachel Lloyd
Founder/Executive Director
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services Inc

Friday, January 16, 2009

Resilience and Recession

The world is crazy-- I'm home late from work as we are working on cash flow projections (and you thought my life was glamorous!) and as I left tonight, my colleagues were working to find a bed for a teen girl and every shelter they call is full. It's 10 degrees outside in New York tonight.

Its harsh realities out there, for the girls we serve and for non profits of all types to keep their doors open. It's a grim way to start the New Year.

But there's faith, and there's hard work, and there's organizing to be done. Deborah Siegel from Girl With Pen and I exchanged notes today on the subject and she turned my comment on her blog into an actual post-- read it here I promise it more uplifting than my opening line in this post.

Need things to do?

1) Watch the GEMS documentary Very Young Girls on Showtime now through Feb 23. See the GEMS website for times to set your DVR: GEMS Join our causes page on facebook: GEMS on facebook


2) In New York? Go check out Girls Write Now winter reading. I'm sorry to miss it--I'll be at my dear friend Kate's wedding. Girls Write Now

And for something fun, innovative and the brain child of one of my favorite women and girls' program supporters, Lauren Cerand:

Check out The New You Project . Join me in supporting the grassroots movement to spread word about a book that hasn't gotten its day in the sun yet. I emailed Lauren and got my copy in the mail and let me just say I think the book will be as interesting as the campaign.