Executive Director Letters

Executive Director Letter – September 2020

Dear Friends & Supporters,

Welcome Back to Fall! We missed you in August, but our team took some much needed down time to recharge from an intense spring and summer. For many, September is a time of exciting new beginnings and routines, as kids are back to school and we return to our regular work schedule. Here at FAIR Girls, our critical work with Survivors continues as we are gearing up for a busy start to our new fiscal year with several exciting projects in the works, including our Drop in Center expansion project and our “Back to School” social media campaign and webinar series to raise awareness, debunk myths and discuss trends related to human trafficking.

This September, more than ever, has me pausing to take a moment to reflect on and appreciate all that we have been through in Fiscal Year 20. Despite everything, I am so proud of our small but mighty Staff and Board and how they have risen to the challenges we have faced this fiscal year every step of the way, providing innovative solutions and systems to enable FAIR Girls to continue to serve trafficking survivors safely and responsibly. I look back on how we pivoted our annual in-person fundraiser to a virtual event and exceeded our best expectations in large part due to the creativity of our team and your kind generosity. I appreciate how we were able to provide real time solutions with our industry partners for survivors in need of a safe place to quarantine before transitioning to our Vida Home. I reflect back in awe on how we were able to reach and teach even more community members through moving our prevention education and training efforts online. I am inspired and hopeful about the progress FAIR Girls has already made on the action items set forth in our June statement regarding the systematic racial injustice, violence and civil unrest roiling our communities. As we look forward to the new beginnings of Fiscal Year 21, we will be working with our local law enforcement partners to expand our street outreach initiative, deepen our partnership with MPD’s Youth and Family Services Division, and train new recruits and veterans at the MPD Academy to ensure that victims of human trafficking are better identified, treated humanely and have access to the services they need. Indeed, we are positioned to be exactly where we need to be in the coming year – in the trenches trying to create positive change from within the systems that have historically criminalized, abused or ignored the survivors we work with.

We are also excited to highlight our FAIR Girls Volunteer Program this month. Volunteers are a critical part of sustaining our programs here at FAIR Girls! As many of us are mourning the loss of a hero and role model in Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we felt like it was important to highlight the inspiring and impactful things that we see volunteers in our communities doing every day to support, inspire and empower girls and young women survivors. We rely upon and appreciate the time and investment that all of our amazing volunteers dedicate to supporting our mission. We welcome supporters who are interested in deepening their investment to consider becoming a volunteer – there are so many different ways that you can get involved.

How can you let your light shine by sharing it with others? Please click ​here​ for more info. And I hope you take a moment to read below about supporters Lola Maraiyesa and Gabi Green and learn about why they have chosen to give back through volunteering and supporting FAIR Girls.

Armed with the reflection that we, like the Survivors we work with everyday, can not only survive but thrive even when the world throws us a devastating pandemic, civil unrest and economic hardship… I say Onward – Bring on Fiscal Year 20!

As always, we thank you for your generosity, kindness and continued support of FAIR Girls during these challenging and unprecedented times.

Be well,

Erin B. Andrews
Executive Director, FAIR Girls

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Fairgirls AdminExecutive Director Letter – September 2020

Executive Director Letter – July 2020

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!

Be well,

Erin B. Andrews
Executive Director, FAIR Girls

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Fairgirls AdminExecutive Director Letter – July 2020