Somebody wished upon a lucky star for the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon Launch Party on Wednesday, September 21, to have clear skies. And what do you know? Their wish was granted for the invitation-only outdoor gathering at NFNL’s headquarters, where Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe and Baldos Ice Cream filled the menu bill for guests at socially-distanced tables. But the news of the night was who and/or what would be the recipients of the organization’s 2021 ProtectHer Awards at the Friday, October 8 luncheon at the Omni Dallas. Here’s a report from the field:
American Airlines and Dr. Monique W. Morris were announced as the 2021 ProtectHer Award recipients at the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon Launch Party at NFNL headquarters on Wednesday, September 22.
“This year’s ProtectHer Award recipients are doing life-changing, impactful work, critical to our mission to improve the lives of trafficked and exploited women and girls who need our voice,” said New Friends New Life CEO Bianca Davis. “In addition to their extensive training program identifying and stopping traffickers, American Airlines is giving our members a new start on life by providing pro-bono legal services to expunge their records. Dr. Monique W. Morris is providing a transformative voice for young girls of color impacted by sex trafficking. By working together, we can continue to safeguard the rights of women and girls who are at-risk or have already suffered the trauma of human trafficking.”
American Airlines will be honored as a ProtectHer Award recipient for its commitment, in partnership with Jones Day, to helping remove the barriers of a criminal record obtained as a direct result of trafficking and exploitation partnership in the fight against human trafficking and child exploitation. In 2020 American began a partnership with NFNL, aiming to raise awareness of human trafficking and support the needs of victims and survivors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Additionally, their legal team launched a new pro bono program to enable members of the team to volunteer to provide free legal services to people in need. In partnership with attorneys at Jones Day, American participated in an initiative led by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, providing legal help to Dallas-area residents ― including human trafficking survivors ― who were qualified to have offenses expunged. Expunging the records of these victims, opens the door to a fresh start including better employment and housing as well as education.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., an award-winning author and social justice scholar with three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, juvenile and social justice, will be recognized as a ProtectHer award recipient for her work educating the community on the disparities facing girls of color –a demographic that is disproportionately trafficked and exploited. Dr. Morris is president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, committed to building a world in which all girls and gender-expansive youth of color are healthy, safe and thriving and fully empowered to dream and shape their desired reality on their terms. Her enlightening book and documentary, “Pushout,” has demonstrated how the criminalization of Black girls in schools pushes girls out into the streets into trauma and violence. Her work has been profiled by MSNBC, CSPAN2, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, and PBS, among other national and local print, radio, and television media.
Davis added, “Texas ranks second in the highest number of trafficking victims in the country, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area has the second-highest number of victims in the state. When organizations and individuals such as these join the fight against sex trafficking, it fortifies our ability to empower survivors, hold traffickers and buyers accountable and prevent this $99 million crime from thriving in our community. We congratulate each of this year’s recipients on a job well done and appreciate their ongoing commitment to make a difference.”
Luncheon Co-Chairs Trina Terrell-Andrews and Jan Osborn joined Honorary Co-Chairs Tonya and Charlie McKinney in generating excitement about the upcoming luncheon while visiting with the 70 attendees throughout the evening.
Jan, who has been involved with NFNL for more than 20 years and shared her personal story of the early days of the nonprofit.
“I was invited to a coffee by a group of women who wanted to do something to help a young lady involved in a sexually oriented business,” said Jan. “The next thing we knew, we started home tours and a holiday bake shop to fundraise. Gail Turner, Pat Schenkel and Kimberly Clifton, who are here tonight were instrumental in starting this effort. After 10 years we knew we needed to raise more. The board decided to invite 100 women who would give $1,000 to attend a luncheon. We hand made the invitations around my dining room table that first year, and the annual luncheon was born!”
Launch party guests, including Robin Bagwell, Brad Cheves, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Jane Rose and Beth Thoele, enjoyed gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from Ruthie’s Rolling Café, ice cream from Baldo’s, and wine courtesy of Starpower. Tours of New Friends New Life were provided throughout the evening. Guests also had the opportunity to learn more about the luncheon’s raffle items, including a “Travel to Your Dream Destination” package with 250,000 miles from American Airlines; “Treat You and Yours,” including fresh flowers delivered to your home every other month for a year from Garden Gate; an Isabella Guillien portrait; and $2,000 from Eiseman Jewels; and “Tasty Gourmet Gathering,” a two-hour grilled cheese party for 50 people hosted by Ruthie’s Rolling Café food truck.
Luncheon media sponsors are The Dallas Morning News, PaperCity and NBC 5. Additional sponsors include Empress Sponsors Nancy and Rand Best, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert and Highlands Residential Mortgage and Peacock Sponsors Tracey Nash-Huntley and David Huntley, Tonya and Charlie McKinney, Pat and Pete Schenkel/Gail and Dr. R. Gerald Turner and Beth and Chuck Thoele.
The award recipients will be honored at the annual New Friends New Life luncheon, featuring a virtual conversation with Lupita Nyong’o on October 8, 11:30 a.m., at the Omni Dallas Hotel.
Underwriting sponsorship opportunities begin at $2,500, and individual tickets are available for $250. A limited number of virtual access-only tickets can be purchased for $100. To reserve your sponsorship or seats, please visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon, email [email protected] or contact Senior Development Director Priya Murphy at 214.217.8652.
* Photo credit: Lisa Stewart