Design Studio participants learn and grow in an environment filled with fun!
Encouraging (and might I say, incredibly patient) mentors invest many hours coming along side the girls who attend weekly workshops. Even with the chaos of construction beneath their soles, they manage to put on their happy feet and attitudes.
Design Studio Mentors Attend Hands of Hope Training
Volunteer mentors from the Adorned in Grace Design Studio attended a two-day mentoring workshop sponsored by Abolition Now. What a blessing and special time we had coming together to learn how we can best minister to the at-risk girls living in our own neighborhoods as well as those coming out of the life of sexual exploitation.
Eleven volunteers plus 5 speakers made this a successful event. Approximately 40 women and 5 men attended from 15 churches and anti-trafficking organizations.
Hands of Hope Mentoring Vision: A loving and caring team of Christian women who will walk beside, encourage, and mentor at-risk youth, sex-trafficked survivors and other young women. The Hands of Hope Mentoring consists of Christian women from local churches who are united to serve the vulnerable in our community. Mentors are certified according to the guidelines, training, commitment agreement, faith and mission of Abolition Now.
Workshop speakers presented:
Gary and Linda Tribbett- Uniting the Body of Christ to serve our community.
Kristin Lumm-Williams, Lifeworks NW – Mental Health of traumatized/abused victims
Rebecca Bender, Survivor, Author, Speaker, Advocate for anti-trafficking - Mentoring a survivor
Janice Beeghly-Staying spiritually healthy as a mentor
Comments from participants included: “This exceeds the professionalism and cohesiveness of most conferences I’ve attended for my work. Amazing job!”
“I really like the idea of area churches pulling together in their neighborhoods to host events to those at risk-like the Dress for Freedom type of events, several in different neighborhoods throughout the year.”
What do soccer, human trafficking and ice cream have in common? Design Studio girls and their mentors were invited to attend a sports event last week to find out.
Ambassadors Football, an international Christian organization, has developed a program to teach kids about human trafficking through a soccer game called, “The Good Life.” The goal of the game is to juggle the ball across the field with your feet, not allowing it to touch the ground. Because it is nearly impossible to do, coaches then encourage the kids to take the “easy” route. Once lured to the sidelines, they soon discover the exercises are not so “easy.” Only one out of more than 60 kids made it through all four stations of the “easy” route, only to discover she was now a recruiter for the trafficker and would never reach “The Good Life".
After grueling exercises and much deception, the kids were split into smaller groups and the coaches revealed the true purpose of the game. A scenario unfolds about “Susan,” a 14-year old, who begins dating a 19-year old guy who preys on Susan’s vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. The talk emphasizes the importance of recognizing unhealthy relationships, tricks and methods traffickers use to lure kids in and how to be an advocate for friends who are at-risk.
Prevention and awareness events don’t often yield immediate results but four of the girls from the Design Studio have since confided to their mentors over ice cream that they have girlfriends who may be victims of sex-trafficking. These new advocates and their mentors are prayerfully strategizing how to lovingly reach out to them.
We are excited that the completion of construction on the donated space will help us expand the capacity at the Design Studio and provide a safe and encouraging environment for victims of trafficking and at-risk girls. Thank you for your continued support for the Adorned in Grace Design Studio and the girls who come through our doors!
Construction is underway on the donated space but our wonderful supporters aren't sitting back and waiting to minister to at-risk girls. Adorned In Grace and 76 gifted volunteers hosted their second annual Dress for FREEdom on Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Portland, Oregon.
For every 10 underage girls trapped in the world of sex-trafficking, 8-9 have been in the foster care system. The Dress for FREEdom event was an opportunity to reach out to girls ages 12-18 who are currently living in foster care, shelters, or working with a DHS caseworker. The goal of this event is to connect with young girls at perhaps the most vulnerable time of their lives to tell and show them that they are incredibly valuable, uniquely created and deeply loved. Caring volunteers encourage them to become advocates with us on behalf of their at-risk friends, family and classmates, rather than becoming victims.
During the event, 38 girls enjoyed a catered buffet complete with chocolate fountain, received a professional makeover and hair styling, picked out a semiformal dress to take home and even have custom, on-site alterations as needed. They had fun with nail art, made their own accessories and as a special memento of their celebration, each girl received a gift bag and her own professional photo package. All at no cost to them.
Each girl was invited to “adopt-a-dress”, choosing a gorgeous wedding or formal gown from another era that they will learn to re-design or repurpose through the Adorned in Grace Design Studio workshops. An Adopt-a-Dress kickoff is scheduled for May 4th from 1-4 at the Compassion Connect Design Studio.
Two caseworkers reported that one of the girls they brought to the event had been in their shelter for 3 months and had never smiled. When they held the mirror up after having her hair styled, she broke into a huge smile that blew them away. It remained on her sweet face the entire day.
Two Design Studio leaders shared their own stories: one of being abducted, drugged and trafficked for two years in her early teens and the other of being born to a 13-year old victim of comercial sexual exploitation and raised in foster care. A long line of girls, many in tears, ran to hug them afterwards and could hardly let go. It meant so much to them that so many among the adult volunteers understood their pain and so many others gave selflessly so that they could be blessed and encouraged.There was a sweet spirit of humble thanksgiving on everyone's part.
Thank you once again for partnering with Adorned in Grace Design Studio and the Dress for FREEdom event. It is an honor and privilege to serve with you.
Linda and the Team
P.S. Seven girls attend our regular after-school, weekly workshop. It is tight but we have a blast! It will be wonderful to have the new space completed so that we can spread the fabrics out and many more girls can join us!
The Adorned in Grace Design Studio has held a number of special events throughout the past year that have attracted over 50 girls. But the team is especially excited that in September, the Studio began weekly after-school workshops and also held its first monthly all day Saturday workshop.
As we squeeze into the temporary training room that is home to hundreds of dresses, piles of fabric, 9 sewing machines, endless notions and of course, girls, we are delighted that we can meet regularly even while we wait for completion of the Design Studio.
One precious guest who has attended all of our first six weekly workshops is a 13-year old from the neighborhood who has been in the foster care system for 6 years. Her foster mother said she has an extremely low (59) IQ. To our creative artists, it seems as though our young friend just wants and needs something she cares enough about to invest herself in. She loves, loves, loves designing!
Two lovely young women from Napal visited the workshop last week and said they "just need something to do". They aren't in school and haven't been able to find jobs but they would love to learn how to sew. Two other girls who attend a nearby alternative high school stopped by on a Monday afternoon to see what we are up to. Compassion Connect Executive Director, Milan Homola, gave them a tour of the training room and invited them back to the workshops. We are eager to establish a relationship with each one and encouragement them as they navigate life.
Thank you all for remembering the designers, mentors, snack providers and prayer warriors who have been so faithful to stick with this work. Plans for the next Adopt-a-Dress contest as well as a Dress for FREEdom event are also underway!
While progress on City permitting to continue construction on the training center has had its challenges, just today we met with a commercial architect who is willing to take on this project! This is a huge step forward in providing a comfortable and safe place for girls to dream big and become advocates in the fight against trafficking rather than victims.
Thank you for helping Adorned in Grace connect with and serve these lovely young ladies!
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Director of Adorned in Grace