On this “Giving Tuesday” we are happy to announce that Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) is our featured charitable organization for the 2013 Holiday Season. 2% of the purchase price of every bag sold online during the month of December will be used to purchase items from GEMS Holiday Wish List which you can view here:
GEMS was founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd, a young woman who had been commercially sexually exploited as a teenager. The riveting story of her escape and subsequent founding of this organization to help other girls like herself, is documented in her personal memoir “Girls Like Us.”
GEMS has helped hundreds of young women and girls, ages 12-24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. It provides young women with empathetic, consistent support and viable opportunities for positive change. It also advocates at the local, state, and national level to promote policies that support young women who have been commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked.
GEMS provides short-term and crisis care, immediate interventions and legal advocacy. It offers a Transitional Independent Living Program which affords housing to runaway and homeless youth. It also offers supportive services that enable individuals, ages 18 to 23, who are fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to locate and secure permanent housing and to integrate into the community.
GEMS’ innovative Educational Initiative program has provided financial incentives for girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation to take the next step in their education, including registering for the GED, high school, college, or a vocational program; completing semesters; and eventually graduating. The emphasis of the Educational Initiative program is on education that results in gainful employment or employment training in areas that do not require education attainment, including in non-traditional female employment areas like trade skills.
The Youth Leadership program is the bedrock of GEMS programming. GEMS Youth Outreach Team, which consists of members who have transitioned to permanent staff positions, use personal experiences as a source of inspiration to connect with and mentor young girls who are working actively to exit the commercial sex industry.
A 16-week program, Youth Leadership supports young girls’ development of critical thinking and concrete leadership skills in a loving and challenging environment. Members deepen their understanding of the social conditions that keep commercial exploitation in place and build public-speaking and community-organizing skills through outreach, events, advocacy, and media work. GEMS’ goal is to prepare youth survivors to serve the national movement to end CSEC as peer mentors and community educators. The program also consists of an internship component, where girls work in various departments of the organization, such as development, communications, and human resources.
To find out more about this amazing organization and other ways you can help, please visit the GEMS website: http://www.gems-girls.org/