Nonprofit supports victims of sex trafficking, in-crisis youth, young adults
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
GIVE – MENTOR – LOVE Foundation/Submitted photo
IVE – MENTOR – LOVE Foundation (GML) is on a mission to improve the lives of LA County’s most vulnerable.
The dedicated professionals of this foundation serve LA County youth and young adults in crisis, at risk, homeless or in foster care, and victims of sex trafficking.
It is a layer of the healing process, partnering with LA County Specialized Bureau for Commercial Sexual Exploited Children (CSEC), LA County Division of ZOE International, Learning Works Charter School and CSEC foster group homes.
In 2010, Donna Pierson, founder and chair of GML, along with a group of volunteers began working with foster girls in the Pasadena area who were exploited, in crisis and traumatized. Nine years later, she founded GML to expand the footprint and services to support these victims across all of Los Angeles County.
“As in our name, we give, mentor and love,” says Natalie Friberg, vice chair of GML.
“We give immediate and continued support of basic needs as well as financially. We’re contacted daily to provide urgently needed essentials including emergency housing, transportation, educational supplies, tuition assistance, clothing, baby items and so much more.”
Mentoring is also at the core of the nonprofit’s mission, helping victims rediscover their self-worth. Over the past year, their mentor programs involved hundreds of hours with foster care youths, victims rescued from the sex trade, teen moms, homeless teens, and others in crisis and at risk. “We mentor one on one, in CSEC group homes and on Learning Works campuses though special events and programs hosted regularly,” Friberg says.
Loving is also at the forefront for GML. Friberg describes many of the youth and young adults they serve as “angry, rebellious and distrusting because of the trauma, abuse and neglect they have suffered.” GML loves the victims and youth they serve unconditionally to help them move beyond the trauma and thrive.
On October 1, GML will host its annual fundraiser to support LA County children rescued from the sex trade and exploitation, and in-crisis youth and young adults with a theme of “IMAGINE… A World of Fear Turned into a World of Wonder”.
In addition to giving, mentoring and loving, GML is focusing on the desperate and immediate need to develop CSEC Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) housing in LA County.
TAY housing is for CSEC victims between the ages of 18 to 21 who have aged out of the system and need specialized extended foster care, as the trauma experienced at the hands of their exploiters and buyers causes tremendous detrimental impact to their physical, emotional, developmental and psychological well-being.
“It takes a village, and GML is on a mission to build a village,” Pierson says.
Adela Estrada, CSEC program administrator for LA County, explains the importance of securing these facilities: “We are in need of homes in LA County that can house these youth so that they have a safe place to live with the consistent guidance and support they need to heal, recover, and learn the skills needed to live independently and as contributing members of society.”
“Please help us support these children by attending or sponsoring our annual fundraiser. Your support could mean the difference between life and death to one of these victims,” Pierson states.
GIVE – MENTOR – LOVE Foundation