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WINGS LUNCHEON Suzy Gekiere, Susan Farris, Angie Kadesky (Photo credit: Kristina Bowman Photography)

Amal Clooney shared her passion for human rights to a sold-out crowd of 1,700 on April 14 at the 13th Annual WINGS Luncheon, at the Hilton Anatole, helping New Friends New Life raise over $1 million to support victims of sex trafficking and commercial exploitation.

Multi-Emmy-award-winning journalist Shelly Slater of WFAA-TV, Channel 8, interviewed Clooney at the luncheon, which also featured an update on the work of the organization by New Friends New Life Chief Executive Officer Katie Pedigo. Luncheon Chair was The Honorable Jeanne Phillips and Honorary Co-Chairs were Laura Bush, Ruth Altshuler, Caren Prothro and Annette Simmons. Board Chair is Nancy Ann Hunt.

 “As a human rights activist on a global scale, Amal Clooney is a strong voice to advocate against a crime that is happening in our own backyard,” said Jeanne Phillips.  “The subject of sex trafficking was rarely spoken of just a few years ago, but thanks to the work of organizations like New Friends New Life and a community willing to step forward with funding, we are making huge strides to end human trafficking in Dallas and throughout Texas.”

Amal Clooney’s accomplished career in the fields of international law and human rights has won her international acclaim. Her recent work as of 2015 has been in the field of advocating for the protection of women against physical and sexual violence in combat zones.  This was her first trip to Dallas and first time to speak in the United States.

Clooney encouraged the audience by letting them know they can make a difference and join the fight against human trafficking.

“You don’t have to be a lawyer…to show compassion,” said Clooney.  “Everyone can play a role. Everyone knows someone who is need.  By being here and being involved and supporting organizations like New Friends New Life.”

“Amal shares the organization’s passion to help women and children, and her perspective, insight and international acclaim, along with her wide appeal to the public, helped us to create an even greater awareness of this worldwide epidemic while raising critical funding to combat human trafficking in the Dallas area and throughout our state and nation,” said Katie Pedigo, CEO, New Friends New Life.

Samantha Casas, a student at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School spoke at the luncheon before Clooney.  She has worked on anti-trafficking projects and emphasized the importance of helping victims. 

“Without an organization such as New Friends New Life, these victims may never know what it means to be educated, loved and free,” added Casas.

New Friends New Life honored national, state, and local recipients of the organization’s ProtectHer Awards for their visionary guidance and leadership in protecting the rights of women and girls: U.S. Senator John Cornyn and U.S. Representative Ted Poe; The 2015 Texas Legislative Session; and Playground Youth Curriculum.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, served as sponsors of a bill – The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, signed into law on May 29, 2015, to improve law enforcement’s ability to target traffickers and buyers and protect and expand the rights of trafficking victims.  

The 2015 Texas Legislative Session’s award was accepted by Rep. Tan Parker – District 63 and Rep. Morgan Meyer – District 108. With Texas ranking second in the U.S. for calls to the human trafficking hotline, New Friends New Life testified on behalf of the women and girls of Texas, and policy makers passed 20 bills to help Texas move towards a “no tolerance zone” for traffickers and exploiters. Playground Youth Curriculum impacts the lives of young girls by educating them and empowering them with the language, skills and resources they need to protect themselves and their peers from sexual exploitation and trafficking. New Friends New Life was honored to serve as the curriculum’s facilitators in Dallas area schools this past fall.

Serving approximately 1,000 women and children annually, New Friends New Life provides holistic services for sexually exploited girls, women, and their children, including access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health 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 sexual abuse recovery groups for adolescents, teaching girls, ages 12 to 17, how to define, recognize, and ultimately recover from abuse.  The program is a therapeutic intervention and prevention effort to help girls avoid a lifetime of exploitation as human trafficking victims. 

Attendees included Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt; April and Mark Anthony; Gene Jones; Ashlee and Chris Kleinert; Pat and Richard Lawson; Carolyn and David Miller; Caren Prothro; Pat and Pete Schenkel; Debbie Tolleson; Lisa Troutt; Lana Andrews; Martha Lou and Dan Beaird; Nancy Best; Elizabeth Carlock Phillips; Laura Barker Carlock; Nancy Carter; Lisa and Clay Cooley; Lydia Addy; Kathy Crow; K.J. Murphy; Nancy Dedman; Tammy Ellis; Aliya Khatri; Joyce Lacerte; Pat McEvoy, Shelle Sills; Linda B. McFarland; Mary M. Jalonick; April Box; Justine Mullen; Sandy Nachman; Gayla Plunkett; Sharon Popham; Kathy Helm; Annette Simmons; Amy Simmons; Marianne Staubach; Sue Strauss; Betty and Steve Suellentrop; Dr. Melissa D. Tonn; and Gail and Gerald Turner.

Media Sponsors were D Magazine and WFAA.

“If nonprofits can make a difference to just one woman, the work is worth it,” added Clooney.  “New Friends New Life gives hope.  It’s about being resilient and never giving up.”

Past WINGS luncheon speakers have included Kevin Costner, Sally Field, Barbara P. Bush, Nicholas Sparks, and Harriet Miers. Visit newfriendsnewlife.org.

 

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