This semester, we celebrated our first Educational Initiative participant to receive her Bachelor’s degree, and three more Youth Leaders formally joined the movement to end the commercial sexual exploitation of youth. I am incredibly proud of each one of our girls and young women who are making incredible strides toward their educational and career goals and advance their recovery and development.
Thank you to everyone who purchased our INSPIRE LOVE Valentine’s Day card for a person who inspires you. Connecting meaningfully with your community is an incredible way to raise awareness about ending CSEC and domestic trafficking, particularly on a day that is about unconditional love, a concept that is at the center of our programming here at GEMS.
Also, the paperback version of Girls Like Us is coming out in just a few days. Please join us February 28, the day of the release, for a special panel that I will be moderating with Salamishah Tillet, Jamia Wilson, Joanne Smith, and Zerlina Maxwell called “(In)Visibility of Girls Like Us: Why Race and Class Matter.” The panel will be from 7-9pm at the CUNY Graduate Center. Please also join us at the release party on March 2 at Pranna NYC. Both of these events are free and open to the public! If you haven’t read the book yet, I urge you to do so and to share it with your family and friends.
As we celebrate our members each day, I am reminded that happiness is watching young people who you love, who’ve faced incredible obstacles and been counted out by society, soar to new heights and begin to truly fulfill their potential. Happiness is when the vision of GEMS is a reality every day.
Thank you, as always, for your support! We could not do this work without you.
Founder & Executive Director
We are so excited to announce that we have been awarded a two-year grant from the Office of Juveniles and Juvenile Protection to strengthen identification efforts for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking and at-risk youth, and increase availability of direct services while formalizing our mentoring work, which has been a core value of GEMS since our inception.
Through a relationship with Green Chimneys, GEMS’ award-winning survivor leadership and empowerment services model will be made available to boys and transgender victims of CSEC! We’re in the early stages of this program, but we will keep you posted about this exciting work!
Making Progress Against Johns
The District Attorney’s office has contacted GEMS to say that Bronx police officers have begun towing exploiters’ cars. this was a goal NYPD Commissioner Kelly shared with our members when they met with him last year. We are very pleased to see this goal come to fruition!
Diamond of the Month
We are so happy to announce that, a member since 2006, Joanna is our Diamond of the Month! Joanna’s growth over the last six years has been apparent to everyone who has come into contact with her. She has recently graduated from our Youth Leadership program, secured her own apartment, and has successfully begun attending Bronx Community College. Joanna is always willing to lend support to members and staff, she is an inspiration to other members, and her joy is contagious. We wish Joanna ongoing success as she continues to work toward her goals!
GEMS Featured in PBS Special!
Graduates of GEMS’ Youth Leadership program and survivor-staff members who have been conducting nationwide trainings on our Victim, Survivor, Leader programming model have been interviewed for a survivor-informed segment of PBS’s special on Nicholas Kristof’s book, Half the Sky. This program, which includes interviews with survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking from around the world, will spread the word about GEMS’ model of empowerment, emphasizing what survivors say works, and facilitate an international discussion on the importance of survivor and youth leadership. The special will air in fall 2012, we’re so excited to watch the whole series!
GEMS Poetry for mtvU
GEMS is continuing in a partnership with mtvU, who will be featuring the poetry of GEMS’ members’ poems on the mtvU website! Our members are at work, refining their powerful work about being survivors and on strength, positivity, and empowerment. We’ll update you as this project progresses!
New Groups for Members
GEMS is now offering a fashion group with a working designer, who will be teaching members about the business side of the fashion industry while making tote bags. In addition, GEMS members who have graduated from the agency’s rigorous Youth Leadership program are also running and facilitating groups with GEMS staff on body positivity, safe and accountable spaces, public speaking, and more!
Shout Out to Staff!
Shout out to Tajia Haynes
, our new Mentoring Support Services Coordinator, and Crystal Ward
, our Trainer! Tajia is facilitating our formalized mentoring program; we’re so excited to have you back on the team, Taija! Crystal, one of our wonderful trainers, organized our comedy show earlier this month and was an awesome emcee! Thanks so much for your dedication to GEMS, Crystal! It was a great event!