Dear Friends & Supporters,
I hope that you all are finding new ways to enjoy some summer “downtime,” rest and relaxation. I always find July to be a wonderful time to step back, take a deep breath, recharge my batteries after the crazy chaos of grant season and our annual fundraising event. As we begin the last quarter of our fiscal year and the lull before the storm of the busy Fall, I like to use this time as a check-in, an opportunity to assess how the organization is doing. Have we made progress towards our organizational goals? How are we doing financially, operationally, programmatically? What do we need to prioritize now?
Much like the benchmark meetings we have everyday with Survivors, it is important to set aside this “taking stock” time to ensure that we are going in the direction we want to be and to make adjustments if we have gotten sidetracked. Unfortunately, this July feels more like we are all stuck in a confusing and stressful waiting pattern. Waiting to hear about what school will look like in the Fall…waiting to see where this pandemic will take us next…waiting to learn what the economic impact will be for small nonprofits like us. That last one weighs heavy right now, as we have been informed that the critical government grant funding that we rely upon to sustain our Vida Home, our Street Outreach program, our Prevention Education efforts could be cut 20-50% or more for FY21 based on reductions in federal VOCA funding and reprioritization of local funds to COVID related costs. But while we wait… we are still busy planning here at FAIR Girls! We are planning for as many contingencies as possible. I have watched the dedication, selflessness and commitment of our amazing FAIR Girls staff and our Executive Board as we face the uncertain future. We are planning for how to best handle more clients and staff being exposed to asymptomatic COVID positive individuals. We are planning for how to keep our Vida Home and Drop-in Center operating in the safest ways possible. We are planning for how we sustain our programs over the coming year in the absence of government funding.
As many of you know, FAIR Girls had to cancel our annual in-person fundraiser due to COVID-19. While we were disappointed that we were not able to celebrate in person together, we used the opportunity to innovate and pivoted to our first ever virtual fundraiser! The event and auction – A Celebration of Resilience and Hope: Ending Human Trafficking One Life at a Time – took place entirely online on June 30th. And, due in large part to all of you – our amazing supporters – it was a tremendous success! It was indeed the silver lining on an otherwise gray cloud. While we had no experience in producing a virtual event and no idea what to expect in terms of outcome, we did not let that stop us. We decided to approach it the same way we approach working with survivors – with open minds and hearts, creativity, flexibility, and teamwork… and lots of coffee! We are so proud of the end result and the ways we were able to still share our work with you. With your generous event sponsorships and donations, FAIR Girls can continue to provide critical life saving programs and services to survivors of trafficking. I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to the survivors who trusted us to share their personal journeys, our Staff and Executive Board who shared their passion for our work, our local and national supporters who took time out of their busy schedules to share why they support FAIR Girls, and our partner vendors who worked side by side with us to make this virtual fundraiser a reality.
If you weren’t able to join us for the virtual fundraiser on June 30th, please take a moment to check it out at https://fairgirls.org/celebrate, including the survivor stories, the strength and passion of our staff and Board, and the inspiring support from local and national leaders. Your continued donations are directly and positively impacting the sustainability of our life-saving programs as we face and plan for the economic uncertainty of the coming months.
In other good news, please take a moment to read below to get acquainted with Devyn Brown, our wonderful new Director of Programs. While a transition is always challenging and we were sad to see Shannon Sigamoni move on to the next phase of her career, we are so excited that Devyn has taken on this leadership role for our FAIR Girls team. Last but not least, thank you. Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times. Thank you for your unwavering faith in FAIR Girls and our mission to end human trafficking, one life at a time. Thank you for your investment in the lives of survivors!
Erin B. Andrews
Executive Director, FAIR Girls