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Virtual New Friends New Life Luncheon Luncheon Co-Chair Jane A. Rose, Honorary Co-Chairs Eric and Elizabeth Gambrell, and Luncheon Co-Chair Jessica Turner Waugh

From trafficking survivor and luncheon speaker Cyntoia Brown-Long to ProtectHER Award Recipients Natalie Nanasi and Brittany K. Barnett, to an exciting announcement of a new life-changing partnership with the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, the 2020 New Friends New Life (NFNL) Luncheon, presented virtually on September 18, featured a consistent and powerful message emphasizing the critical need for criminal justice reform to ensure victims of sex trafficking have a path toward restoration. A testament to unwavering community support and involvement, the virtual luncheon was a resounding success as the agency adjusts to raising funds and educating the community amid a pandemic.

Luncheon Co-Chairs Jane A. Rose and Jessica Turner Waugh and honorary co-chairs and community advocates Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell kicked off the luncheon reiterating that while it seems the world seems to have slowed with COVID-19, sex trafficking and exploitation of women and girls is still happening, and prevention and intervention models provided by New Friends New Life are critical. NFNL Board Chair Ashlee Kleinert added, “While the realities of COVID-19 are heartbreaking, the successes and perseverance of NFNL staff and members are a testament to all that is good in our world.”

Arrested at the age of 16, Cyntoia Brown-Long was a juvenile sentenced as an adult to life in prison for killing a man who solicited her for sex. She served 15 years before receiving a commuted sentence by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.  She is the author of Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System and the subject of a documentary about her life.

“I always felt like everything was my fault, and I was ashamed,” said Brown-Long. “Some of the biggest lies I was told had to do with my value as a person. I was told that my identity as a person was determined by other people and what I did for them. While in prison, I decided to take back my life, and I enrolled in a college program, surrounded by a community of people who believed in me. I received two college degrees and earned two 4.0s.  I am living proof that a new life is attainable.”

Brown-Long empowered viewers to take all the things they share with friends and tweet about, and put that energy into something positive, making things happen. “When young girls are trafficked, they go through so much, they are tired, they react, and they can easily snap out of trauma,” added Brown-Long. “We need to have compassion. They are defending themselves and their right to survive and be free. Let’s not throw them away and lock them up. Let’s provide them with a support community, rehabilitate them and help them re-enter the community.”

“The public needs to understand the history of these women and the trauma they may have suffered,” added Jessica Brazeal, chief programs officer, New Friends New Life. “New Friends New Life provides a clear way out, nurturing a deep multi-generational impact that breaks the cycle of abuse and exploitation.” (It’s Not a Choice Animation)

The Dallas District Attorney’s Office recently partnered with New Friends New Life on a new initiative to help break this cycle of abuse. NFNL Board Chair-Elect Tracey Nash-Huntley announced the new pre-trial intervention agreement in which a woman who is arrested on a prostitution misdemeanor will be offered the opportunity to enroll in the Phase 1 of the NFNL women’s program. Upon successful completion, her case is eligible for immediate expunction. “This is life-changing because a criminal record is one of the largest barriers these women face to gaining new employment and making a new start,” added Nash-Huntley. “This is what reform looks like.”

Natalie Nanasi and Brittany K. Barnett were recognized as the 2020 ProtectHER Award recipients for their tireless work for criminal justice reform. Nanasi, director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women and assistant professor of law, Southern Methodist University, organizes pro-bono legal defense for victims of sex trafficking. She became a lawyer to help people and is proud of the center’s partnership with NFNL. “The women we help from NFNL have been debilitated by poverty and trauma since an incredibly young age. They are not the type of people who should be punished. Helping them to get their records cleared not only serves justice but also helps them to move forward and heal. I can think of no better use of a law degree. I dedicate this award to these women as well as the teams of SMU law students who do the hard work.”

Barnett, an attorney, author, co-founder of the Buried Alive Project, and advocate for criminal justice reform, is the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and knows the impact of mass incarceration. She has also founded Girls Embracing Mothers, dedicated to empowering girls with mothers in prison. Barnett helped secure her mother’s freedom as well as dozens of others serving life without parole in federal prisons with outdated drug laws. “The work that we have to do is much more than reform,” said Barnett. “We cannot keep rescuing people and restoring them to poverty. We must completely reimagine what criminal justice reform means to us.” She thanked NFNL for the work they are doing and for “amplifying the voices of victims to create empathy and love.”

NFNL Interim Executive Director Bianca Jackson emphasized that sex trafficking is a crushing global issue and empowered viewers by stating that every one of us can make a difference. “Now more than ever, support of sex trafficking survivors and vulnerable teens in the Dallas community is critically needed as many of our members are facing economic and emotional setbacks in wake of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The event concluded with a special thank you from Tracey Nash-Huntley, “Thank YOU for taking a stand for her.”

Special thanks to all New Friends New Life Luncheon sponsors, including media sponsors The Dallas Morning News, NBC 5, and PaperCity magazine.

 

 

 

About New Friends New Life:
Founded in Dallas, Texas in 1998, New Friends New Life (NFNL) restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children. By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teen girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities. In 2019, NFNL served 372 members (clients). NFNL also educates the community and works to eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking through advocacy, legislative reform and strategic partnerships that address systemic causes. In 2018, NFNL opened a drop-in Youth Resource Center (YRC) in partnership with the Office of the Governor to serve trafficked and high-risk teen girls. More than 100 girls visited the YRC during its first year. In 2015, NFNL organized its Men's Advocacy Group to engage men in the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation. For more information, visit http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org.

 

 

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Brittany K. Barnett, ProtectHER Award Recipient Barnett is an attorney, author, and entrepreneur dedicated to reform of the criminal justice system.

New Friends New Life Announces 2020 ProtectHER Award Recipients and Decision to Pivot to Virtual Event Format Amidst COVID-19 

New Friends New Life (NFNL) announces the 2020 ProtectHER Award Recipients:  Natalie Nanasi, director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women and assistant professor of law, Southern Methodist University, and Brittany K. Barnett, author, entrepreneur, and attorney committed to pro bono work and reform of the criminal justice system. The award recipients will be honored at the Friday, September 18 New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon, 11:30 a.m., which will now be held in a virtual format to ensure the safety of supporters during COVID-19.

Cyntoia Brown-Long, a sex trafficking survivor and advocate for criminal justice reform, will headline the luncheon, co-chaired by NFNL Board of Directors Members Jane A. Rose and Jessica Turner Waugh and honorary co-chairs and community advocates Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell.

“As we navigate the production of a virtual luncheon experience, our team embraces this new format with creativity and excitement for the new opportunities it presents, including an expanded reach of our mission,” said Kim Robinson, CEO, New Friends New Life. “We are excited to welcome our speaker and honor our award recipients, who together shine a light on the importance of criminal justice reform and the many injustices faced by those who are trafficked. 

ProtectHER Award Recipient Natalie Nanasi, an assistant professor of law and the director of the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women at Southern Methodist University, supervises law school students’ representation of survivors of gender-based violence in a broad range of legal matters as well as systemic advocacy and policy work. Prior to arriving at SMU, she was a practitioner-in-residence and the director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at American University, Washington College of Law (WCL). Before joining the faculty at WCL, she was the senior immigration attorney and pro bono coordinator at the Tahirih Justice Center, where she represented immigrant women and girls fleeing human rights abuses such as female genital cutting, domestic and sexual violence, forced marriage, and honor crimes. Nanasi also served as counsel in the landmark asylum case of Matter of A-T- and as an Equal Justice Works Fellow from 2007-2009, with a focus on the U visa. Prior to her work at Tahirih, she was a law clerk to the Honorable Lynn Leibovitz of the District of Columbia Superior Court. Nanasi researches and writes at the intersection of immigration, gender, and feminist legal theory. She received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned an Equal Justice Foundation fellowship for her work at the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center in New Delhi, India, and assisted in representation of HIV-positive immigrants at Whitman Walker Clinic Legal Services. Prior to her legal career, Nanasi was a rape crisis counselor and supported single teenage mothers at a transitional residence facility in Boston. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas and the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center.

“As a community partner with the legal center, New Friends New Life has referred many survivors to Natalie and her team, who have provided the assistance they so desperately needed,” added Robinson. “In 2019, 75 percent of our members had a criminal record of some kind – a formidable barrier for them to finding conventional employment, housing, and building a new life. We are thrilled to honor Natalie, who is making a critical difference in their ability to make a fresh start.”

“The criminal records that New Friends New Life’s clients carry are a direct result of the trafficking they have endured. From theft to drug and prostitution convictions, none of their interactions with the criminal justice system have occurred outside of the context of their victimization,” said Nanasi. “It is an honor to help survivors navigate the legal system and work with them to clear their records, and I am humbled to be recognized for standing beside these brave women.”

ProtectHER Award Recipient Brittany K. Barnett is an attorney, author, and entrepreneur dedicated to reform of the criminal justice system. Her memoir, A Knock at Midnight, will be published on September 8. While working several years as a corporate attorney, Barnett was committed to pro bono representation of clients in federal prison under draconian drug laws. Her dedication resulted in freedom for many with federal drug offenses, including seven clients who received executive clemency from President Barack Obama.

As the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother, Barnett knows firsthand the impact of mass incarceration is far reaching, devastating families and entire communities. Barnett founded two nonprofits: the Buried Alive Project, which works to dismantle life without parole sentences handed down under federal drug laws and Girls Embracing Mothers, dedicated to empowering girls with mothers in prison. Barnett is also the founder of XVI Capital Partners and Milena Reign, social enterprises devoted to shifting the paradigm to show the world-changing impact that formerly incarcerated people can have when they have access to resources.

She is a graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law and previously served as the associate general counsel at ORIX USA Corporation focusing on mergers and acquisitions and general corporate matters. Prior to her legal career, Barnett earned her license as a Certified Public Accountant and worked for international accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. She has been featured nationally on multiple news platforms, including television and print and has earned many honors, including being named one of America’s most Outstanding Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association.

“It is inspiring to see Brittany challenging systems at every turn,” shared Robinson. “Her resilience and determination have helped her overcome obstacles that could have easily made her a product of her environment.  Instead, she is breaking through barriers on behalf of others, changing lives in the process. We are delighted to be able to celebrate her achievements.”

“Many of the women of New Friends New Life have had to face the criminal justice system in some shape or form. It is critical that women and girls directly impacted by sex trafficking and incarceration are empowered and at the center of any movement and work surrounding them,” said Barnett. “Women and girls and their diverse stories and perspectives are too often ignored but are critical to drive impactful change. It is an honor to be a recipient of the ProtectHER Award and help amplify the voices of these amazing women.”

NFNL Luncheon speaker, Cyntoia Brown-Long, was arrested at the age of 16, a juvenile sentenced as an adult to life in prison for killing a man who solicited her for sex. She served 15 years before receiving a commuted sentence by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.  The author of Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System and the subject of a documentary about her life, Brown-Long is passionate about shining a light on the injustices faced by women and children in American prisons. (See attached document for more information on Ms. Brown-Long.)

“This year has presented additional challenges for our community. Survivors have endured a burden of emotional and economic loss. They have become more vulnerable to traffickers who are highly adept at capitalizing on their economic hardships for survival,” shared Robinson. “Additionally, a staggering increase in online sexual exploitation has been reported.  While we cannot physically be together on September 18, we can unite virtually, working together to serve as a catalyst for change. Please join us on September 18 to ‘stand for her’ and help us restore hope to so many trapped in this illegal industry.”

Underwriting sponsorship opportunities begin at $2,500, and individual tickets are available for $100 each. Guests will receive a link to view the luncheon, with sponsors also receiving sponsor gift boxes and digital package benefits.  To reserve your virtual seats please contact Bianca Jackson, chief development officer,  at 214-217-8650, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon or email events@newfriendsnewlife.org.

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About New Friends New Life:
Founded in Dallas, Texas in 1998, New Friends New Life (NFNL) restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls, and children. By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teen girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty, and limited opportunities. In 2019, NFNL served 372 members (clients). NFNL also educates the community and works to eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking through advocacy, legislative reform and strategic partnerships that address systemic causes. In 2018, NFNL opened a drop-in Youth Resource Center (YRC) in partnership with the Office of the Governor to serve trafficked and high-risk teen girls. More than 100 girls visited the YRC during its first year. In 2015, NFNL organized its Men's Advocacy Group to engage men in the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation. For more information, visit http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org.

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Cyntoia Brown-Long, speaker (photo credit-Flip Holsinger)

 

Arrested at the age of 16 for killing a man who solicited her for sex, tried as an adult, and sentenced to life in prison, Brown-Long served 15 years before receiving a commuted sentence

 

New Friends New Life (NFNL) announces Cyntoia Brown-Long, a sex trafficking survivor and advocate for criminal justice reform, will headline the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon on Friday, September 18 at 11:30 a.m., at the OMNI Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar St. Event co-chairs are NFNL Board of Directors Members Jane A. Rose and Jessica Turner-Waugh. Community advocates Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell will be recognized as honorary chairs.

Arrested at the age of 16, Cyntoia Brown-Long was a juvenile sentenced as an adult to life in prison for killing a man who solicited her for sex. She served 15 years before receiving a commuted sentence by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.  The author of Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System and the subject of a documentary about her life, Brown-Long is passionate about shining a light on the injustices faced by women and children in American prisons.

“New Friends New Life is honored to bring Cyntoia Brown-Long to Dallas to share her message of survival, hope, and transformation and to create greater awareness of the injustices faced by trafficking victims,” said Kim Robinson, CEO, NFNL.  “While we have made great strides in the way lawmakers and society view those forced into modern-day slavery, there is much work to be done, and it is critical that we continue having these conversations.”

“Cyntoia’s message illustrates the need for constant evaluation and courageous change within our justice system to support sex trafficking victims who are facing a myriad of extenuating circumstances that leave them trapped in this illegal industry,” stated Luncheon Co-Chair Jane A. Rose.

“Knowing that the average age that a girl is trafficked in the United States is 15 years old, it is imperative that our community understands that the prevention and intervention models provided by New Friends New Life are critical. Without these support systems in place, any of the 400 girls trafficked in Dallas every night could end up with a story as harrowing and unfathomable as Cyntoia’s, or even worse,” Luncheon Co-Chair Jessica Turner-Waugh added.

Brown-Long was born to an alcoholic, teenage mother who was also a victim of sex trafficking. When her birth mother realized she could no longer care for her, she was adopted by a loving mother; however, she struggled throughout her childhood, heavily influenced by the world around her. A sense of isolation, low self-esteem, and alienation drove her straight into the hands of a predator, and she was trafficked during her early teenage years. At age 16, she was arrested for killing a man who solicited her for sex. She was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole for 51 years. Her trafficker was never arrested. In prison, Brown-Long’s life took a dramatic turn when the prison education principal took her under her wing and introduced her to a spiritual path. She encouraged her to build a positive life in prison and to resist the negative influences that lead to despair. While in prison she earned her GED, an associate and a bachelor’s degree, both with a 4.0 GPA, from Lipscomb University. Her journey includes a PBS documentary about her life, a profound encounter with God, an unlikely romance (now her husband – musician and entrepreneur Jamie Long), and, eventually, a commuted sentence by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.  She received unprecedented national and international support from social media advocates, pastors, and celebrities and was released from prison in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 7, 2019.

Her memoir, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System (Atria Books), written while in prison, documents her early years and the 15 years she was incarcerated and takes readers on a coming-of-age spiritual journey.  Set against the shocking backdrop of a life behind bars and the injustice of sentencing sex-trafficked juveniles as adults, Brown-Long struggled to overcome a legacy of birth-family addiction and a lifetime of being ostracized and abandoned by society.

Brown-Long and her husband, Jaime, founded the Foundation for Justice, Freedom, and Mercy. In January 2020, the Vera Institute of Justice recognized Brown-Long as one of the Best of Justice Reform honorees.  She is also a 2020 Nominee for the NCAAP Literary Image Award and has been featured as a guest columnist for The Washington Post. Brown-Long is a volunteer mentor to young girls through Epic Girl, a program in Nashville that empowers girls to reach their full potential through educational programs, mentoring, counseling, and community activities.

The team at New Friends New Life is monitoring the status of COVID-19 within the community and is working in full compliance with the OMNI Dallas Hotel regarding limited seating capacity and multiple additional CDC safety measures.

Underwriting sponsorship opportunities begin at $2,500.  A limited number of individual tickets at $250 each and above will be made available in August. To reserve your table, please contact Bianca Jackson, 214-217-8650, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon or email events@newfriendsnewlife.org.

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About New Friends New Life:
Founded in Dallas, Texas in 1998, New Friends New Life (NFNL) restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children. By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teen girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities. In 2019, NFNL served 372 members (clients). NFNL also educates the community and works to eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking through advocacy, legislative reform and strategic partnerships that address systemic causes. In 2018, NFNL opened a drop-in Youth Resource Center (YRC) in partnership with the Office of the Governor to serve trafficked and high-risk teen girls. More than 100 girls visited the YRC during its first year. In 2015, NFNL organized its Men's Advocacy Group to engage men in the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation. For more information, visit http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org.

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New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon NBC5's Laura Harris interviews Jada Pinkett Smith

Hollywood Trailblazer and New Friends New Life Luncheon speaker Jada Pinkett Smith was first inspired to advocate for those impacted by sex trafficking in 2011 when her then pre-teen daughter Willow watched a documentary at school and told her there were children her age being sold for sex in the United States. Pinkett Smith did not believe it until completing her own research, making her an immediate advocate against the practice. Since then, she has remained passionate to fight what has become the “new age of slavery” and “an epidemic in our country.”

Interviewed on stage by NBC 5’s Laura Harris, Pinkett Smith captivated the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon audience of nearly 1,000 on October 11 at the OMNI Dallas with personal stories, experiences on the streets with victims of sex trafficking, and advice on important ways to parent and educate our children.

Luncheon Co-Chair Couples Christa and Ketric Sanford and Shelly Slater and Clayton Huffstutter teamed with Honorary Chairs Amy and Joe Crafton as the leadership for this year’s event, demonstrating that sex trafficking is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue that must be addressed by both men and women.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Methodist Health System were honored as the 2019 ProtectHER Award Recipients for their leadership in the fight against human trafficking. Mrs. Abbott was recognized as for her leadership and advocacy for the victims of human trafficking. Most recently, she partnered with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) as the voice of a public service announcement building upon the statewide “Be the One” anti-human trafficking campaign. The goal is to educate viewers on the most common signs of trafficking found in TABC-licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants. Methodist Health System was honored for the outstanding efforts of the medical staff of Methodist Dallas Medical Center’s emergency room and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program to combat human trafficking by recognizing and assisting patients who are victims.  In April 2018, an emergency room triage nurse’s training and intuition led to the arrest and prosecution of a human trafficking ringleader and the rescue of approximately 20 trafficking victims held captive in a house just a few miles from the hospital.

During the luncheon, a special video highlighted the partnership of fashion designer Abi Ferrin, who is employing women from New Friends New Life to design and make scarves for her scarf project – using remnant products from the fashion industry. A pop-up shop at the luncheon provided an opportunity for guests to shop for scarves and support this new, successful endeavor.

“Investing in women unseen is the best thing you can do,” said Ferrin. “This project has given me more joy and inspiration than I’ve had in years.”

New Friends New Life CEO Kim Robinson shared, “While we may want to dismiss this as an issue that only happens in other countries, we know in fact that it’s happening right here in our own backyard. Today our economic empowerment initiative has a 90 percent enrollment increase, and there have been over 1,400 drop-in visits to our Youth Resource Center. Additionally, 125 new women were welcomed into the program this year. And now we have a waiting list of women who need our services.”

As Pinkett Smith took the stage, she told the audience, “I applaud each of you as this is a beautiful turnout for this important cause.  New Friends New Life is doing phenomenal work. Trafficking is becoming a very sophisticated crime, so it is crucial to have conversations such as this.”

“We are all vulnerable, and it’s a big mistake to think trafficking happens to certain type of girl,” she continued. Pinkett Smith talked about being 11 or 12 and running the streets while her mother, a nurse, was working. She also recounted a trip she took to Italy at the age of 20 and the hotel valet trying to lure her to spend the day on a boat with him. Her instincts kicked in, she called her mother, and her mother told her not to go.

She stressed that parents need to keep their children close, mentor them in the ups and downs of growing up, educate them about the dangers of online conversations and use open communication.

“I am very open with my daughter and want her to know there is nothing she will experience that I haven’t already.  There is no judgement here, and we can get through this together.” She added that how we love our children is very important. “Traffickers’ language isn’t really very different to what we use at home, and we must create a distinct difference in what love looks like.”

At one point during the conversation Pinkett Smith became emotional recounting conversations she has had with young girls on the streets and what they endure. “A lot of girls don’t make it,” added Pinkett Smith. “When I look out into this audience and see this many people, it fills me with joy. These young women need our help. We can heal our own souls by helping women have a second chance.”

Media sponsors were NBC5, PaperCity, and The Dallas Morning News.

Visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon.

www.newfriendsnewlife.org/scarf

 

Employment partnership program:  www.newfriendsnewlife.org/partnership

 

 

About New Friends New Life:


New Friends New Life, founded in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children.  By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teenage girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities.  For more information about New Friends New Life, visit  www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214) 965-0935.

  

PHOTOS BY TAMYTHA CAMERON

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New Friends New Life Launch Party Luncheon Co-Chairs Clayton Huffstutter, Shelly Slater, Christa Sanford, Ketric Sanford

 

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Methodist Health System will be honored at the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon on October 11

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Methodist Health System were announced as the 2019 ProtectHER Award recipients at the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon Launch Party, hosted by Veronica Beard and Highland Park Village on September 5. The award recipients will be honored at the annual New Friends New Life luncheon featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, on October 11, 11:30 a.m., at the OMNI Dallas Hotel.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott will be honored as the state ProtectHER award recipient for her leadership and advocacy for the victims of human trafficking. Most recently she partnered with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) as the voice of a public service announcement building upon the statewide “Be the One” anti-human trafficking campaign. The goal is to educate viewers on the most common signs of trafficking found in TABC-licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants.

“Because of the incredible advocacy and outreach by New Friends New Life, the generous support of this community, and the continuing commitment of leaders in this state, Texas is recognized as a national leader in the fight to end sex trafficking,” Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott shared in a written statement. “I am deeply honored to receive a ProtectHER Award and to stand with so many selfless servants who are lifting up the true heroes — women and children who are finding hope and healing and are now victors. I have no doubt that in joining together, we can help end the cruel inhumanity of sex trafficking — there is nothing more powerful than Texans helping Texans.”

Methodist Health System will be recognized as the Local ProtectHER award recipient for the outstanding efforts of the medical staff of Methodist Dallas Medical Center’s emergency room and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program to combat human trafficking by recognizing and assisting patients who are victims. Located in Methodist Dallas’ emergency department since 2014, the SANE program is the second in Dallas County and the only such program in southern Dallas. SANE nurses undergo 180 hours of rigorous training and provide compassionate, confidential care. In April 2018, an emergency room triage nurse’s training and intuition led to the arrest and prosecution of a human trafficking ringleader and the rescue of approximately 20 trafficking victims held captive in a house just a few miles from the hospital. Recognizing something was amiss when a patient came into the ER, the nurse took the patient to a safe room, where she confided she was a victim of human trafficking and needed help. The patient also shared that another sex trafficking victim had been taken to the ER the day before with a gunshot wound. The nurse alerted authorities, which led to the arrest of the trafficker and rescue of the additional trafficking victims.

“Methodist Health System and our SANE program at Methodist Dallas Medical Center are honored to be recognized along with Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and other organizations and individuals who have received the ProtectHER Award for our efforts to end sex trafficking in this region,” Pamela Stoyanoff, MBA, CPA, FACHE, president and CEO, Methodist Health System shared in her statement.  “Our SANE program is proud to have a partner like New Friends New as together we strive to heal our patients and victims of violence long after they leave the hospital.”

 “Methodist Health System and Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott are doing powerful work to combat sex trafficking in our city and state,” said Kim Robinson, CEO, New Friends New Life. “The ProtectHER Awards recognize those who are truly impacting change to improve the lives of trafficked and exploited women and girls who need our voice. By working together, we can continue to safeguard the rights of women and girls who are at-risk or have already suffered the trauma of human trafficking.”

Luncheon co-chairs Christa and Ketric Sanford and Shelly Slater and Clayton Huffstutter joined Honorary Chairs Amy and Joe Crafton in generating excitement about the upcoming luncheon and visiting with the nearly 50 attendees throughout the evening.

Shelly Slater and Christa Sanford talked to the crowd about their recent “road trip” https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=332654240780840 to areas where some of the area’s biggest sex trafficking rings have been found.

“We thought we knew what was happening out there until we went on our road trip,” said Shelly Slater. “It was a sobering experience, and we stand up here today for the women that New Friends New Life is serving. We are part of an incredible team at New Friends New Life and are excited to share in this important effort with them.”

Co-Chair Christa Sanford encouraged guests to “buy a table and help us fill the room so that we can raise funds to make an impact.”

“NFNL made a deliberate decision to have men join women as co-chairs this year because sex trafficking is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue that must be addressed by both men and women,” added Robinson. She also introduced a program that’s growing within the organization that will be highlighted at the luncheon.

“New Friends New Life’s Economic Empowerment Program has been a game changer,” said Robinson. “Businesses and organizations are stepping up and giving women within our program a chance to gain skills and conventional employment.  They are gaining tremendous self-esteem and the ability to start a new life and support themselves and their families.”

Launch party guests, including Nancy Best, Marybeth Conlon, Sherri Daniel, Maggie Kipp, Ashlee Kleinert, Jordan Lewis, Carolyn Miller, Bill Minick, Dr. Melissa Tonn, Jack E. Pratt, III, Dr. Trillion Small, Beth Thoele, and Katherine Wynne, sipped on champagne and enjoyed bites by Proper Catering while browsing the latest fall fashions at Veronica Beard who donated a portion of the evenings proceeds back to New Friends New Life.

Luncheon media sponsors are The Dallas Morning News, PaperCity, and NBC 5. Additional sponsors include: The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated (Monarch presenting sponsor); The Jensen Project and Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (Viceroy Sponsors); and Nancy and Randy Best, Carolyn and David Miller, and Lisa and Kenny Troutt (Empress Sponsors).

To sponsor or reserve a table for the Oct. 11 New Friends New Life Luncheon, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon, or call 214-217-8650.

Attached Photos are by Tamytha Cameron.

 

 

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About New Friends New Life:
New Friends New Life, founded in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children.  By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teenage girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities.  For more information about New Friends New Life, visit  www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214) 965-0935.

 

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Co-Chairs Shelly Slater and Clayton Huffstutter The family resides in Park Cities

New Friends New Life (NFNL), a Dallas-based nonprofit that restores and empowers formerly trafficked teen girls and sexually exploited women and their children, announces leadership for the 2019 Annual Luncheon on October 11 featuring Jada Pinkett Smith as keynote speaker. Luncheon Co-Chairs Shelly Slater & Clayton Huffstutter and Christa & Ketric Sanford are teaming up to lead what supporters hope will be one the most successful luncheons to date. Amy & Joe Crafton will serve as honorary co-chairs for the event that is expected to draw 1,000 attendees.

“This year we are excited to have couples chair the New Friends New Life Luncheon together because we know that sex trafficking is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue that must be addressed by both men and women,” said Kim Robinson, CEO, New Friends New Life. “Survivors of trafficking and those living under the threat of falling victim at any moment need to know that there are men and women who are willing to stand on their behalf, helping them craft a future for themselves that they couldn’t otherwise imagine.”

Co-Chairs Shelly Slater and Clayton Huffstutter have been advocates for the work of New Friends New Life for several years. Shelly has been on the NFNL Board of Directors since 2016 and has served as emcee of multiple NFNL luncheons. Clayton is a member of the NFNL Men’s Advocacy Group that mobilizes men through education, awareness and volunteerism.

“We have a vested interest in supporting New Friends New Life, an organization that, for 20 years, has served as a lifeline for women who have been trafficked and exploited in our community,” said Shelly Slater. “To know that there are 400 trafficked teens on the street every night in Dallas, and that the average age of a girl entering the sex trade is anywhere between 13 and 15, we believe that it is our civic duty and responsibility to help end to this form of modern-day slavery.”

“New Friends New Life is doing an amazing job creating awareness of a problem that many people still don’t realize is happening in our own backyard,” added Clayton Huffstutter. “This luncheon inspires more people to get involved, which is critical for change to happen. We simply cannot stand by and let this continue.”

Clayton is a principal at Park Cities Asset Management, where he focuses on investor relations and capital markets. Shelly is a multi-Emmy-Award-winning journalist and a recipient of the National Edward R. Murrow Award. After ten years on the anchor desk at WFAA, she runs her own company to help corporations win business and trust through carefully crafted messaging. Additionally, Shelly and her sister are co-owners of The Slate, a new co-working space in the Design District that provides offices as well as a large studio, podcast room, and team-building room. The couple lives in the Park Cities with their three young boys.

Co-Chairs Christa and Ketric Sanford have been involved with New Friends New Life since 2011. Christa is a new member of the NFNL Board of Directors and past president of the agency’s Circle of Friends Board. Ketric is a member of the NFNL Men’s Advocacy Group.

“With three young kids, Ketric and I believe that our work with New Friends New Life is instrumental in helping keep children from becoming trapped in the sex trafficking industry,” said Christa Sanford. “By understanding and addressing factors like childhood sexual abuse, poverty and other complex trauma that make children, particularly young girls, more susceptible to being victimized by traffickers, New Friends New Life is breaking the cycle by creating a community where teen girls can overcome their backgrounds and thrive.”

“We are encouraged by the comprehensive work of New Friends New Life to address the issue from all angles,” added Ketric Sanford. “From advocacy and prevention to restoration and empowerment, we are disrupting the trafficking industry at its very core.”

Christa serves on the First Baptist Academy Board of Trustees and the Emerging Leader Board for SMU Dedman School of Law. She is a founding officer of The Village Giving Circle and an active member of the Junior League of Dallas. A partner at Baker Botts, Christa practices patent law, and Ketric is managing director of Corsica Capital Partners. Additionally, Ketric serves as treasurer on the Big Thought Board of Directors. The Sanford family resides in East Dallas.

Honorary Co-Chair Amy Simmons Crafton is a longtime supporter of NFNL. She and her husband, Joe Crafton, are committed to creating a society that is safe for women and girls. “NFNL not only brings hope to the women, it also changes their lives – and they experience the love of Christ while in the program. This is the kind of organization we like to stand behind,” said Amy Crafton.  The couple resides in Preston Hollow.

The October 11 luncheon, featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the OMNI Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar St.  Pinkett-Smith, a successful actress, producer, director, humanitarian and activist, is passionate about fighting human trafficking, advocating for survivors and creating awareness in communities.

“When I realized it was such a huge problem for women and children all over the world, I really wanted to be a voice to let people know that human trafficking exists,” said Pinkett Smith. “Every last one of us has a job to do regarding combatting human trafficking – whether it’s looking at our own attitudes toward young women and men who get into these circumstances, how we label things, or how we love our children. Just making sure we are educating our own children about human trafficking helps this effort.”

Underwriting sponsorship opportunities begin at $2,500.  A very limited number of individual tickets at $250 each and above will be made available in September. To reserve your table, please contact Bianca Jackson, 214-217-8650, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon or email events@newfriendsnewlife.org.

 

About New Friends New Life:


New Friends New Life, founded in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children.  By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teenage girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities.  For more information about New Friends New Life, visit  www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214) 965-0935.

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A longtime anti-human-trafficking advocate, Hollywood Trailblazer Pinkett-Smith

has spearheaded multiple efforts to create greater awareness and educate the public on this worldwide issue

 

New Friends New Life (NFNL) announces Jada Pinkett Smith will headline the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon on Friday, October 11, 2019, at 11:30 a.m., at the OMNI Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar St.  A successful actress, producer, director, humanitarian and activist, Pinkett Smith is passionate about fighting human trafficking, advocating for survivors and creating awareness in communities.

Pinkett Smith was first inspired to advocate for those impacted by sex trafficking in 2011 when her then pre-teen daughter Willow watched a documentary at school and told her there were children her age being sold for sex in the United States. Pinkett Smith did not believe it until completing her own research, making her an immediate advocate against the practice.

“When I realized it was such a huge problem for women and children all over the world, I really wanted to be a voice to let people know that human trafficking exists,” said Pinkett Smith. “Every last one of us has a job to do regarding combatting human trafficking – whether it’s looking at our own attitudes toward young women and men who get into these circumstances, how we label things, or how we love our children. Just making sure we are educating our own children about human trafficking helps this effort.”

Pinkett Smith’s work led her to be featured on the special CNN Report Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking in 2015 in which she traveled to the highly trafficked zone of Atlanta, Georgia.  This special documented Pinkett Smith working with local aid workers and officials to investigate, uncover, and rescue real-life victims of the crime. Pinkett Smith is an advocate for Don’t Sell Bodies, an organization that focuses on educating and preventing the spread of child sex slavery in America.  This organization supports and partners with Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), a New York State nonprofit serving girls and young women who have experiences commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), the largest direct service provider to survivors of human trafficking in the United States.

“New Friends New Life is elated to welcome the dynamic and multitalented Jada Pinkett Smith to headline this year’s luncheon,” said Kim Robinson, chief executive officer. “Jada is a resounding voice against sex trafficking, and her passion and commitment inspires those she encounters to join the fight to eradicate this horrific crime from our communities. She gracefully and skillfully utilizes the platform of her extraordinary 30-year career to sound the alarm about this issue, and our luncheon audience will, without question, be inspired to do the same.”

Jada Pinkett Smith is widely known for her acting career, which began with a role on the sitcom True Colors, followed by a breaking role on A Different World. In 1993, she starred in her first feature film Menace II Society, opposite Samuel L. Jackson.  Over the next three years, her career skyrocketed with roles in The Nutty Professor and Set If Off. Additional films include Scream 2, Ali, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Madagascar and its sequels, Bad Moms, and Girls Trip. She has also starred in the FOX television series Gotham. Upcoming work includes the action feature Angel Has Fallen, the third film in the Olympus Has Fallen trilogy, in which she will play the head of the FBI, opposite Gerard Butler. She has produced many projects including The Secret Life of Bees starring Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Fela, and the film remake of the 1982 musical Annie. Her executive producing credits include the 2010 film The Karate Kid, the 2014 documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. She is currently a co-producer of the critically acclaimed Broadway production of American Son, starring Kerry Washington, as well as Hala, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where she also served as a judge.

Currently, Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch talk show titled Red Table Talk brings her knowledge and voice to a new platform.  Filmed in her family home, she hosts the show alongside her daughter, Willow Smith, and mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris. The multigenerational triad discusses a range of social and cultural issues to encourage an open discussion and dialogue between women of all ages.

She and husband Will Smith continue to dedicate their efforts to the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on the arts, education, sustainability, and social empowerment. The couple has two children, Jaden and Willow.

Underwriting sponsorship opportunities begin at $2,500.  A very limited number of individual tickets at $250 each and above will be made available in September. To reserve your table, please contact Bianca Jackson, 214-217-8650, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon or email events@newfriendsnewlife.org.

 

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About New Friends New Life:


New Friends New Life, founded in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children.  By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teenage girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities.  For more information about New Friends New Life, visit  www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214) 965-0935.

 

 

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New Friends New Life 20th Anniversary Luncheon Honorary Luncheon Co-Chairs Mike and Marla Boone, Uma Thurman, NFNL CEO Kim Robinson, Luncheon Co-Chairs Connie Kleinert Babikian, McCall Cravens, Jill Meyer

Over 1,000 attended inspiring annual luncheon featuring Uma Thurman as speaker, honoring the organization’s three founders, and celebrating the restoration and empowerment of formally trafficked and sexually exploited women, teens, and children

 Over 1,000 guests joined New Friends New Life (NFNL) on November 9 at the Omni Dallas in celebrating 20 years of successful outreach to victims of human sex trafficking, increased awareness of this widespread problem, powerful legislative reform, and success stories of survivors, empowered to gain long-term stability.

The luncheon featured Uma Thurman as keynote speaker and raised $1.3 million to help the organization continue its mission to restore and empower formally trafficked and sexually exploited women, teens, and children. New Friends New Life Founders Nancy Ann Hunt, Pat Schenkel, and Gail Turner were honored for their vision and creation of the organization two decades ago to help one woman.  Today the nonprofit has reached thousands of women who have been victims of sex trafficking and has expanded its mission and services to encompass the broader scope of educating and preventing “modern-day slavery.”

Dallas District Attorney Faith Johnson gave the invocation, and former NFL player and Men’s Advocacy Group board member Tyler Clutts introduced this year’s ProtectHER award recipients: Victor Boutros, founder of the Human Trafficking Institute (international recipient); Becca Stevens, founder and president of Thistle Farms (national recipient); the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (state recipient); and The Dallas Morning News (local recipient). The award recipients were formally recognized at a VIP Platinum Dinner for top sponsors the evening of November 8.

New Friends New Life CEO Kim Robinson reminded attendees of the amazing work that the nonprofit has been able to accomplish as a result of their generosity of these 20 years and introduced a video which captured the three founders as they recounted the early days of the organization – one of the first of its kind in the nation to address human trafficking.  Especially touching was the story founder Pat Schenkel shared when she learned one of her daughter’s childhood friends had herself become a victim that was saved by the work of New Friends New Life and is now a mentor to women through the direct outreach of the organization.  Kim welcomed her along with three other survivors to the stage where they received a standing ovation by everyone in attendance.

Marla and Mike Boone served as the luncheon’s honorary chairs while Connie Kleinert Babikian, McCall Cravens, and Jill Meyer served as this year’s luncheon co-chairs.  Mrs. Babikian is the third generation of women in her family to work with New Friends New Life.  Her grandmother is founder Nancy Ann Hunt, and her mother is board member Ashlee Kleinert

The event culminated in a moderated conversation with Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award- nominated actress Uma Thurman and NFNL board member Shelly Slater.  Thurman continued to remark that she was “absolutely blown away by what’s going on” regarding the accomplishments of NFNL.  “I’m so moved by this love-based conversation,” she said.  “What I see in this room is what is missing in other parts of the world – a lack of judgment, love, and support…. We need more of a commitment to support that in women.”

After talking about the mission to end human trafficking, Thurman also discussed her personal life. She talked about her childhood growing up in a family with three brothers and going alone to New York City at the age of 15 to model. Highlights from Thurman’s remarks include: her favorite designer is friend Zac Posen, how long it takes to get ready for the Oscars, and the moment when she was in awe meeting Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  She is the proud mother of three children.  Her oldest daughter Maya is now following in her mom’s footsteps and is acting in the series “Stranger Things.”  Her son Levon is 16 and daughter Luna is 6.

Serving approximately 1,000 women, teens, and children annually, New Friends New Life provides holistic services for victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation including access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health counseling, and spiritual support. By partnering with law enforcement, corporate sponsors, community organizations, and individual donors and volunteers, New Friends New Life helps to provide legal assistance, medical services, budget counseling, job-readiness training, and educational opportunities.

Texas ranks 2nd in the country for the most human trafficking, and in Dallas, there are an estimated 400 trafficked teens on the streets each night. New Friends New Life believes this is a community-wide issue and advocates for the victims of sex trafficking by driving state and national legislation and establishing partner groups to raise awareness and encourage volunteerism, including its Circle of Friends board and Men’s Advocacy Group.

Media sponsor was WFAA Channel 8.

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Uma Thurman Keynote speaker for 20th Anniversary New Friends New Life Luncheon

New Friends New Life (NFNL) announces Uma Thurman, award-winning actress and activist, will headline the 20th Anniversary Luncheon on Friday, November 9, 2018, at 11:30 a.m., at the OMNI Dallas Hotel, 555 S. Lamar Street. Previously scheduled speaker, Mandy Moore, will no longer attend the luncheon due to an unexpected production schedule conflict. 

“New Friends New Life is honored to bring the lauded and talented Uma Thurman to Dallas,” said Kim Robinson, Chief Executive Officer. “Ms. Thurman’s heart for those experiencing poverty, and her willingness to stand on behalf of those whose human rights have been violated, are just a few of the many reasons why we are honored that she has accepted our invitation to join us in celebrating survivors and advocates during this milestone event.”

Luncheon Co-Chairs are Connie Kleinert Babikian, McCall Cravens, and Jill Meyer, and Honorary Co-Chairs are Marla and Mike Boone.

Additionally, New Friends New Life announces the four 2018 ProtectHER Award recipients: Victor Boutros, founder of the Human Trafficking Institute (international recipient); Becca Stevens, founder and president of Thistle Farms (national recipient); the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (state recipient); and The Dallas Morning News (local recipient). The award recipients were recently announced at a 20th Anniversary Luncheon Launch Party, at the home of Gigi and Roy Salley, and they will be formerly recognized at a VIP Platinum Dinner for top sponsors the evening of November 8, and celebrated at the luncheon on Friday, November 9.

“New Friends New Life is thrilled to honor these international, national, state, and local partners in our advocacy and prevention efforts to eradicate sex trafficking and exploitation,” Robinson shared. “Sex trafficking is a global issue that requires global, collaborative partnerships in order to save lives. Our ProtectHER awardees make us proud to be part of this dedicated network of advocates who are committed to safeguarding the rights of women and girls here in our city, across the country and around the world.”

International ProtectHER honoree Victor Boutros founded the Human Trafficking Institute in 2015. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the institute works to end trafficking at its source by empowering police and prosecutors to stop traffickers by working inside the criminal justice system using embedded experts, world-class training, investigative resources, and evidence-based research. The institute developed a groundbreaking model to train specialized trafficking enforcement units in six federal districts through two components: mastering core knowledge and working with experienced trafficking experts.

National ProtectHER honoree Becca Stevens is the founder and president of Thistle Farms. Its mission is to heal, empower, and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners. The program offers a two-year residential program, based in Nashville, that provides housing, medical care, therapy, education, and job training free of charge for up to 32 women and serves hundreds more through advocacy and referral services.

The 2018 state ProtectHER honoree is the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault. Founded by researchers at the University of Texas and headquartered in Austin, the institute advances knowledge about interpersonal violence through research, education, and service in multidisciplinary, strategic partnerships with researchers, educators, practitioners, policy makers, and other members of the community. The work of the institute has led to policy and program recommendations, now being constructed with a valid understanding of the scope of trafficking in Texas.

The Dallas Morning News, this year’s local ProtectHER honoree, supports the fight against human and sex trafficking by reporting on incidents within the DFW area and raising awareness in the local community that these crimes are happening right here, in our own backyards.

“All of our ProtectHER Award recipients are playing a key role in helping us put traffickers out of business,” Robinson added. “Collectively, we are sounding the alarm that our girls and our women are not for sale.”

A limited number of tickets for the 20th Anniversary Luncheon are available from $250; sponsorships are also available beginning at $2500. For more information, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon, email development director Priya Murphy at pmurphy@newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214)-217-8652.

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About New Friends New Life:


New Friends New Life, founded in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked girls and sexually exploited women and children.  By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teenage girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities.  For more information about New Friends New Life, visit their website at www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214) 965-0935.

 

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New Friends New Life 14th Annual Luncheon Lisa Cooley, luncheon co-chair; Kelly Cruse, exec. dir., New Friends New Life; Joe Ehrmann, keynote speaker and co-founder of InSideOut Initiative; Tanya Foster, luncheon co-chair; Gail Turner, Dr. R. Gerald Turner, honorary chairs

New Friends New Life’s 14th Annual Luncheon on May 10 at the OMNI Dallas Hotel, raised over $1.06 million toward the work of the nonprofit, which restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teens, and children.  Honorary luncheon chairs were Gail and Dr. R. Gerald Turner and luncheon chairs were Lisa Cooley and Tanya Foster. Joe Ehrmann, co-founder of the NFL Foundation-funded InSideOut Initiative and a former NFL Pro Bowl athlete, named by Parade Magazine as “The Most Important Coach in America” for his work empowering youth – a critical component to ending sex trafficking and exploitation – was keynote speaker.  Singer Songwriter Gayle Arbuckle provided a moving song, which inspired 1,060 guests to be the change needed to help prevent a crime that enslaves young American girls at an average age of 13.  David Pughes, Interim Chief, Dallas Police Department, gave the invocation and Shelly Slater directed the audience’s attention to the screens for the debut of a thought-provoking video portraying the scenario and thoughts of a young girl trapped in the life of sex trafficking.

Chris Kleinert, chair of the New Friends New Life Men’s Advocacy Group Board, was joined by Jeremy Hodge, a student at Parish Episcopal School, to honor four ProtectHer award recipients – international, national, state, and local partners in the organization’s advocacy and prevention efforts to eradicate sex trafficking and exploitation: INTERNATIONAL HONOREE: Airline Ambassadors International, the first-time international recipient, holds training sessions in airports around the world teaching all airline personnel the key warning signs of trafficking. Flight attendant Shelia Fedrick, who gained national recognition this year for rescuing a young girl on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, was honored along with Airline Ambassadors International founder Nancy Rivard.  NATIONAL HONOREE: U.S. Senator Rob Portman is the founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking and has authored five federal anti-trafficking laws since 2012.  STATE HONOREE: Governor Greg Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CCST), which in 2016, changed the landscape of Texas’ fight against the horrific crime that is child sex trafficking.  LOCAL HONOREE: Parish Episcopal School,  piloted the New Friends New Life Men’s Advocacy Group’s manKINDness Project® High School Program, a 60-minute interactive learning experience teaching the next generation how to identify and execute healthy relationships with women and stop the cycle of sex trafficking. Jeremy Hodge was a member of the Parish team – the first to pilot the manKINDness Project Curriculum. Hodge told the audience that one of the most powerful things he learned was how society’s attitudes toward women and girls influence sex trafficking and exploitation. He wants to change that and feels that the program should be in every school in the nation.

Throughout the ballroom young men in a variety of colorful high school football jerseys represented five different teams from Berkner, Lake Highlands, Parish, Pierce, and Richardson High Schools.  Each school has participated in New Friend New Life’s manKINDness® Project curriculum for high school athletes in an effort to engage in dialogue about respect for young women and themselves.

“New Friends New Life has made great strides this past year through our Men’s Advocacy Group’s manKINDness Project® High School Program, a 60-minute interactive learning experience tailored to teen boys which aligns perfectly with Joe Ehrmann’s message to youth,” said Kelly Cruse, executive director, New Friends New Life. “Joe’s motivational message supports our philosophy that we must be proactive to create a long-term impact on this horrific and widespread industry.”

Mike Doocy, Fox 4 anchor and member of the Men’s Advocacy Group Board, took the stage to introduce keynote speaker Joe Ehrmann. He told the audience “while Joe Ehrmann gained notoriety due to his superior athletic acumen of the football field, he became a legend due to the investment he has made in the lives of men and young boys.”

Ehrmann captivated the crowd and encouraged the audience to work to understand “our own moral responsibility” relating it to New Friends New Life’s message, “Not our children, not our city.”  “We must create better citizens and contribute to our communities if we are going to eradicate this. Whenever you have empathy and can turn it into action that equals compassion which produces moral courage.”  He continued to say that apathy and indifference are our two greatest problems and encouraged the audience to step out of their comfort zones and have “our own personal transformation so that we can help transform others.”  Ehrmann now devotes his life to teaching young men a whole new meaning of masculinity. “Being a man means emphasizing relationships and having a cause bigger than yourself. It means accepting responsibility and leading courageously. It means that empathy, integrity, and living a life of service to others – all are more important than points on a scoreboard.”

Ehrmann’s NFL Foundation-funded InSideOut Initiative is a blueprint for systemic change, transforming the current “win-at-all-costs” sports culture into one that defines and promotes sports as a human growth experience. 

Serving approximately 1,000 women, teens, and children annually, New Friends New Life provides holistic services for victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation including access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health counseling, and spiritual support. By partnering with law enforcement, corporate sponsors, community organizations, and individual donors and volunteers, New Friends New Life helps to provide legal assistance, medical services, budget counseling, job-readiness training, and educational opportunities. The nonprofit’s High Risk and Trafficked Teen Girls Program offers abuse recovery groups for adolescents, teaching girls, ages 12 to 17, how to recognize and ultimately recover from abuse. The program is an intervention effort to help girls avoid a lifetime of exploitation as human trafficking victims.

Media Sponsors were The Dallas Morning News and WFAA.