Emerging Together

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Last year, STAR’s newly established New Orleans branch received a grant of $10,000 from the Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans (EPNO). Since being awarded this funding, STAR’s New Orleans branch has accomplished the following:

  • Responded to 176 hospital call-outs 
  • Answered 409 hotline calls
  • Served 233 unique clients through our counseling, legal, and advocacy programs
  • Covered 92% of all hospital medical advocacy shifts since starting shared 24/7 coverage of hospital medical advocacy at University Medical Center in April
  • Reached over 3,800 people in the GNO area through tabling, panels, forums, presentations, and meetings
  • Engaged all universities in St. Tammany, Orleans, and Jefferson parishes
  • Participated in the New Orleans Sexual Assault Response Team and the Jefferson Community Coordinated Response Team
  • Hosted a Clergy Open House to engage the faith-based community and participated in Take Back the Night
  • Trained over 80 community members through our 40-hour STAR volunteer training
  • Presented to over 500 people who are currently incarcerated at the Orleans Justice Center (formerly the Orleans Parish Prison)
  • Established a growing internship program
  • Grew our staff from 2 full time staff members to 5 full time and 2 part-time staff members
  • Reached 100% staff giving to support our services

As with any new endeavor, we have also experienced challenges. These include:

  • Meeting the community’s ever-increasing needs with a small staff
  • Navigating new systems and relationships with community partners
  • Funding prevention and community education efforts

After an astonishing year of successes and challenges, STAR’s Greater New Orleans Regional Director, Margaret Reynolds, became interested in paying it forward this year. She applied for and was accepted into the 2016 Racial Equity EPNO team, which awarded a grant of $10,000 to BreakOUT!, an organization that fights the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans.

Given her unique perspective as a former grant recipient and emerging philanthropist, Margaret was selected to give a speech at EPNO’s annual awards and graduation ceremony on November 2nd. Below is the text of her speech:

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Margaret Reynolds, STAR’s Greater New Orleans Regional Director

Good evening. Over the past two years, I have been in the unique position of both receiving and awarding an EPNO grant. Tonight, I’d like to not only talk about how this experience has informed my personal view on philanthropy, but also the impact philanthropy has had on the hundreds of survivors of sexual assault supported by the choices of last year’s EPNO class.

The effects of philanthropy are hard to calculate. While each grant application has measurables, outcomes, and goals, it can be difficult to discern the actual effect of your philanthropic dollars on someone who needs support.

Being a philanthropist is and should be so much more than simply giving money. Being a philanthropist is acting as a guide. It’s using your particular set of skills to strengthen others in the community. It’s a supportive role in every sense of the word. EPNO has taught us that, as philanthropists, it is our job to be diligent while empathetic and supportive while ensuring accountability.

To be a philanthropist is also to be an ally. It is to use our privilege to equalize power imbalances. Supporting marginalized members of our community means educating others on why and to whom we give. It is confronting the intersectional nature of oppression and using both our money and talents to work with our community partners to remove systematic barriers. Simply put, to be a true philanthropist is to commit to supporting others in a strategic, holistic manner.

So, putting theory aside, I’ll tell you about my experience. In my professional life, I work as the Greater New Orleans Regional Director of STAR, or Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response. It is my organization’s vision to build a community free from oppression and sexual trauma. To do this, we work to support survivors, create social change, and improve the systemic response to sexual violence. This is accomplished through free legal, advocacy, and counseling services available to all survivors and their friends and families.

As you can imagine, sexual assault is not always an easy thing to talk about, or for which to receive funding. But, two years ago, when STAR decided to expand for the first time, we needed to talk about it, a lot. So, we applied for our first grant in the GNO area (and incidentally the first grant I had ever written).

In the grant application, we asked for the full $10,000 from the 2015 EPNO Women’s Issues Team. We applied for funding to hire an AmeriCorps member as STAR’s Volunteer Coordinator. During the one-year grant period, it would be her job to recruit and train two classes of hotline and medical advocates.

A few weeks after submitting the grant, I took a road trip to Maine. On the way there, I received an e-mail from the Women’s Issues Team with “a few more small questions.” Answering these “small questions” took me from Alabama to northern Virginia. That is a long way. And, side note, I wrote all the answers on my iPhone while taking a lot of Dramamine for car sickness.

However, the questions posed were poignant. With a single three or four page grant application, that team was able to identify STAR’s areas of improvement and push us to critically think about ways to expand upon our initial plan. Neither before nor after that process have I experienced another grantor who has cared so much about the stewardship and impact of their donation.

So, after one of the most rigorous vetting processes I’ve ever experienced while applying for a grant, STAR was awarded the funding. Since then, Michaela (our wonderful Volunteer Coordinator) has moved on to Tulane Law School. But, during her year at STAR, she coordinated the training of 30 volunteers who have since served upwards of 200 clients over the hotline and at the hospital.

Those clients have been able to seek counseling, bring civil legal action, and utilize all the case management services STAR offers. They have been able to return to work, to watch their perpetrator be held accountable, to move forward with their lives, and to help other survivors in turn.

One can’t really calculate the impact of their philanthropic dollars, but I’m here to tell you they go so far beyond a few measurables.

After experiencing the EPNO process from the outside, I started asking questions of current members. I wanted to know what the vetting process was like, what other organization’s applications looked like. I wanted to see what it was like to give in a strategic, holistic way. But, I work at a non-profit, so $500 is about a year’s salary. Still, when I found out there was a payment plan, the rest was history. I joined the (some might say) best EPNO team, the Racial Equity team, and we started to meet weekly.

My team members challenged me and gave me new perspective. By the end of the year, we had defined racial equity, reviewed strong applications, and selected an organization that will impact their members in ways that go far beyond the single program we’re funding.

EPNO is integral to a vibrant community. I encourage you all to stay involved. Continue your efforts and keep in touch. Participate in GiveNOLA day. Find your cause, push your organizations to provide excellent services. Integrate the philanthropic perspective that EPNO has encouraged into your daily lives.

Because a strong New Orleans, one where marginalization is addressed and our citizens are supported, starts with organizations like EPNO and philanthropists like you.

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STAR NOLA Staff (July 2016)

 

Get involved and make change with STAR!

Agents of Change: Ariel White

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@star.ngo.


The truth is, you can’t do one without the other. You can’t just have a social movement and leave the day-to-day realities alone, and the day-to-day can be futile if there isn’t a movement behind it to bring hope of a better future.

-Ariel White

1. What is your position at STAR? 

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I’m a Resource Advocate in the Greater New Orleans office. In this position, I provide support and advocacy for the rights and protection of survivors of sexual trauma and their loved ones, including assessing survivor’s needs and working with community resources to fulfill those needs, which may include shelter, counseling, food, property return, and general advocacy and support.

2. How did you come to work at STAR and/or in the field of sexual assault prevention and response? 

During the course of getting my MSW, I worked with an organization in New Orleans and provided counseling to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. After graduation, I continued to work for them as a medical advocate. Going to the hospital and working with clients as they moved through the criminal justice and medical systems was hugely rewarding for me, but I realized how unbelievably difficult and complicated it could be if you don’t have support.

I’ve always been fascinated by social movements — how they are built and how they transform. Working with STAR gives me the opportunity to enmesh those two passions by building a movement to end sexual violence and help individuals navigate a system that can be scary and discouraging. The truth is, you can’t do one without the other. You can’t just have a social movement and leave the day-to-day realities alone, and the day-to-day can be futile if there isn’t a movement behind it to bring hope of a better future.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?

I love seeing the change that our work brings, from the smallest thing, like a client saying that they felt safe to go on a run today, to seeing legislation passed that supports survivors. The moment something changes inside a person or inside a system is the most beautiful thing in the world to me. I want to watch that over and over again.

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4.What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

The harder something is, the more I’m interested in it. I’m intrigued when something goes terribly wrong and I have the chance to tinker with it and fix it.

I also talk with the people who are doing similar work and let them inspire me. I’m lucky that there are so many of these people both at STAR and in my personal life. There’s a lot of strength in sharing what’s hard about your job.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community, outside of your work duties?

Listening to people — it’s the motivation behind ninety percent of my career choices. I have worked as a reporter, a therapist, for Members of Congress and for about a thousand non-profit organizations and the best part is hearing people’s stories and letting them feel heard.

I like to think that giving the people I’m around the ability to vent or to express what’s going on with them is promoting a positive change.

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6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?

It’s okay to be hesitant. Your activism doesn’t have to look like someone else’s. There are so many ways to be involved and active that you can choose what makes the most sense and go for it.

 

To learn about how to get involved with STAR, visit our website or email prevention@star.ngo

Agents of Change: Portia Gordon

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@star.ngo.


 

I like to believe that if you show someone something new, they will share what they learned and that will create a shift in our community. –Portia Gordon, LPC, RPT

1. What is your position at STAR?5001_989648799544_4478112860735160390_n

PG: I am a counselor at STAR, which means that I spend the majority of my time seeing survivors for individual and group counseling sessions. Over the past 6 months, I have had the unique experience to be a part of STAR’s first expansion into NOLA and to help build the counseling program here. In place of my normal counselor duties, I have spent my time connecting with other providers in the city in order to familiarize them with STAR and the services we can provide to their clients. Recently, I have begun to see survivors again for individual sessions, and I am enjoying every minute of it!

2. How did you come to work at STAR and/or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?

 PG: My journey was long, so I will spare you all the details. In a nutshell, I became involved in the field when I started doing research in graduate school and saw that there was such a lack of resources for dealing with trauma. Not only was there a lack of resources, but the knowledge and education about those resources wasn’t reaching the community members who needed it the most.

I heard about STAR while I was still living in New Orleans, working and finishing up graduate school, and I was thrilled to find an organization that was full of new and innovative ideas on how to respond to sexual trauma. I remember it was Lundi Gras day when our CEO & President Racheal Hebert called me to tell me that I was hired. I was surprised that they were hard at work while all my attention was on the parades and festivities. At that moment, I knew the dedication that STAR has to survivors and the level of commitment that is expected from its employees.

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3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?   

PG: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the transformation in the survivors that I work with. There’s a physical change that happens when someone begins to take steps toward healing, and there are no words to describe how grateful I am to be able to see these changes firsthand.

12072735_969941972184_4206122203863300286_n4.  What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

PG: When I need motivation to keep going, I look to my support system, which includes my closest friends and my immediate family. I am lucky that they understand me and know that sometimes I just need to be uplifted with an encouraging word, story, or even just a joke to help break the tension.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community, outside of your work duties?

PG: Outside of work, I promote positive change by always being open and available to help those around me. During the week, I tutor; I try to expose those students to new and exciting topics or ways of thinking that they might otherwise not be exposed too. I like to believe that if you show someone something new, they will share what they learned and that will create a shift in our community.

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6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?

PG: The best advice I would give to someone is to spend some time understanding what their motivation is. The work will be hard, tiring and frustrating, but can also be one of the most rewarding experiences that you can ever have. On the hard days, it’s good to remind yourself of what’s motivating you, and draw strength from those experiences to continue another day.

 

Looking back as we move forward

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Sometimes, you just have to brag. We at STAR are doing amazing things, and we want to share our progress and positive experiences with you.


 

At STAR, we pride ourselves on accomplishing a lot with limited resources, which means most of the time we’re working hard and looking ahead. On a daily basis, we dedicate ourselves to improving outcomes for survivors of sexual trauma through direct and community services and to reducing levels of sexual violence in our service area.

For this month’s Services Spotlight, though, we want to pause and look back on some of our momentous developments from 2015.

Agency Expansion

  • We opened an office and established a 24/7 hotline in New Orleans to enhance services to survivors of sexual trauma in the area.
  • We hosted our most successful Hunks in Heels fundraiser yet, with over $66,000 raised.
  • We partnered with Clay Young Enterprises to develop our agency’s first promotional video.
  • We expanded our impact by hiring for seven additional positions in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

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Survivor Services

  • We launched our legal services program, which is the only program in Louisiana to offer legal services exclusively to sexual assault survivors at no cost.
  • We launched the Sexual Assault Legal Clinic with LSU Law, which was the first of its kind in the nation.
  • With greater awareness, reports of rape continue to increase. To meet this ever-expanding need, we continued providing counseling and advocacy services at no cost to survivors.

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Systems Advocacy

  • We assisted in the development of a new rape kit that was adopted by the Louisiana State Crime Lab as the statewide recommended rape kit.

Social Change

  • Our Creating Change prevention workshop was selected as Louisiana’s 2015 Rape Prevention Education Success Story by the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health in their annual report to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • We recruited and trained our 4th cohort of 3-D Peer Educators (funded by the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund).
  • We presented our first ever Social Change Impact Award to Amy Dellinger at our annual Evening of Appreciation for her in-kind assistance with data analysis and program evaluation.
  • We continued to provide education to youth to prevent sexual violence and strengthen their abilities to engage in healthy relationships.

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Our growth and development over the past year would not have been possible without the generous support of our funders and community partners. With your continued support, we look forward to another year of positive developments that will allow us to continue growing our capacity to serve survivors and reduce levels of sexual violence in South Louisiana. Thank you for your involvement in building a community free from oppression and sexual trauma!

Agents of Change: Tami Iraheta

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@brstar.org.


 

It’s important to be open to uncomfortable truths and moments where you recognize that something you thought was OK could possibly be causing harm. –Tami Iraheta 

1. What is your relationship with STAR?20151126_185703 

TI: I had the opportunity to serve as a Louisiana Delta Service Corps Member at STAR as the Community Outreach Coordinator in New Orleans.

2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?

TI: All my life, I and many people around me have experienced sexual trauma. I knew there was something wrong with not talking about it and just letting it continue, because the societal narrative tells us “it has always been and will continue to be this way.” My experiences have shown me the horrors of sexualized violence and rape culture. It wasn’t until I took a course in my undergrad that I began to understand the language to talk about these issues, and I really dove into studying how ingrained and systemic the issue really is.

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I had recently graduated from Humboldt State University, and I wanted to try living in Louisiana (I was born and bred in Los Angeles County, California). While researching internships offered here, I came across STAR and looked into the organization. I’ve always loved how this organization acknowledges the need for direct services as well as the need for social change. Not many organizations focus on addressing the impacts of the issue while also creating systemic change in order to prevent harm from continuing to happen to their community.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?

TI: I think I smile the most when someone comes up to me and says “thank you for what you do.” This work can be draining, and sometimes it can feel hopeless. So it feels really good when I hear back from people that what I’ve been doing matters, whether it’s a survivor confiding in me about their experience or a student talking to me at a tabling event.

20151122_1228464. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

TI: Too many times I have heard rape culture go unchecked and have seen sexual trauma affect my loved ones while no one seems to take it seriously.  I think I want to be a part of the truth I preach to everyone when I speak up on systemic oppressions like sexualized/gendered violence.

A friend of mine showed me this quote a professor gave their students. They said, “So many of you want to change the world, and that is amazing and a very difficult path. Some days it might seem hopeless. But I want you to know that it’s OK if you only change one person’s life, and it’s OK if that person is you.” So even when I leave this realm, I can go in peace knowing I tried all I could to make a difference.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community? 

TI: I take the initiative to educate myself. It’s important to be open to uncomfortable truths and moments where you recognize that something you thought was OK could possibly be causing harm (like laughing at rape jokes and recognizing your privileges). Also, volunteering is a great direct way to help out, so go sign up if you haven’t!

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6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement? 

TI: This work is hard on so many different levels, and finding time to do anything else other than school or work may sound unrealistic or time consuming. We understand that. We also know that change won’t happen until we hold each other and ourselves accountable. Everyone else before us has said “maybe someone else can do it,” but it all starts with us.

Agents of Change: Margaret Reynolds

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@brstar.org.


 

Empathy is not always easy, but it is a necessity if we are to build a world with less violence. –Margaret Reynolds 

1. What is your position at STAR?1185552_10152254024591294_1981967622_n

MR: I am the Greater New Orleans Regional Director at STAR. It is my job to oversee our New Orleans-based operations, ensuring that staff members are supported and that our office is growing while providing excellent services to the community.

Both because this branch is new and because this is the first time STAR has expanded to a new region, no two days are the same for my position.

2. How did you come to work at STAR and/or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?

MR: Like most people, this was certainly not the career that I expected.

While in college, a friend asked me to direct the campus performance of Vagina Monologues. I declined. At the time, I was embarrassed to say the word “vagina” in public, and I am no expert on theater. However, she insisted. So, 3 months later on the eve of our first performance, I stood in front of 50 nervous students asking them to share why they had decided to be in this performance.

While their answers were unfortunately expected, their outcomes were not. Almost 45 of the 50 women were survivors of sexual trauma, and not even 10 had reported. Those that had reported said that sexual assault systems response workers did not believe them or told them they were to blame for what had been done to them. The doctors had prodded them, the police had taken their story, the DA had considered their case, and the system had failed them. For those who hadn’t reported, the negative reactions of friends and family were often worse than the assault itself. After that night, I was angry and I was hurt, but my life’s work had become clear.

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During my MPA, which focused on nonprofit leadership, I became heavily involved in the New Orleans Sexual Assault Response Team. I met others with intelligence, drive, and passion, like my future boss at STAR. Racheal told me about STAR, a fast-growing nonprofit, where all services for survivors are free and confidential. A few months later, she offered me a job in Baton Rouge, and (of course) I took it.

STAR is run efficiently, and it is a joy to work here. The effects of sexual violence are wide-reaching and deep, but STAR works everyday to support individual survivors and create a culture to eradicate sexual trauma.

11695968_10153371484086294_517109217069834025_n3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?

MR: I am most energized when I motivate others. I feel rewarded when I help my staff members work to their potential, when I see growth and excitement, when I lead a program to success, and when I structure what was unstructured.

4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

MR: When I am especially frustrated, helping in some direct, palpable way (e.g. going on a call-out or talking to a survivor) makes me feel connected.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community, outside of your work duties?

MR: Around age 17, my dad took me on a road trip. One night, tired and not quite able to make it to our campground, we rented a room in a Motel 6 somewhere in Arkansas. The night was uneventful, and, the next morning, fully rested and hungry, I went to the lobby to check out the continental breakfast scene.1002967_10151662788126294_703680364_n

When I got back to the room (extra muffins in hand), my Dad was picking up all the towels I left on the bathroom floor and putting them next to the sink. When I asked him why, he responded that the maids were probably bending down all day, so he should do what he could to make their job easier.

10 years later, I try to follow this example. Empathy is not always easy, but it is a necessity if we are to build a world with less violence.

6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?

MR: This work is not as hard, depressing, or scary as one might think. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people–people who like the same TV shows as you, who have kids like you, who go to school like you, and people who can handle really hard things, just like you.

As in most fields, there is a good fit for almost everyone. Use your strengths and help.

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Services Spotlight: Volunteers needed in NOLA!

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Sometimes, you just have to brag. We at STAR are doing amazing things, and we want to share our progress and positive experiences with you.


This past year has been a big one for STAR! In the past six months, we have begun to expand services to New Orleans, recently launching a 24/7, sexual assault-specific hotline for the New Orleans area.

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What YOU can do

To fulfill our mission of supporting survivors, improving systems response, and creating social change to end sexual violence, we at STAR rely on committed volunteer advocates to provide support to survivors.

Our next volunteer advocate training will take place in March 2016, so we are currently recruiting volunteers from the New Orleans area to apply! Volunteers undergo a 40-hour training consisting of online and in-person hours. In addition to this initial training, monthly volunteer meetings will be held to provide additional, follow-up support for your role as a hotline and/or medical advocate.

To become a sexual assault victim advocate and STAR volunteer in New Orleans, we ask that you fill out our online application or visit our website to find out more information. You may also contact Michaela Lovejoy, our Volunteer Coordinator, at (504) 407-0711 or advocacynola@star.ngo to learn more.

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Apply now! And share to spread the word.

Want to hear from current STAR volunteers? Here’s what Mary Helen, Jacki, and Stefanie have to say about their experience.

In addition to recruiting volunteers, we are also hiring for an Advocacy Coordinator and Resource Advocate at STAR NOLA! Visit our website to learn more about these available positions.

 

Agents of Change: Kaela Lovejoy

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There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email prevention@brstar.org.


I saw that sexual trauma knows no bounds–not gender, age, class, or race.  Thus, as a feminist and a human being with love for my community, I was inspired to take part in a movement that mattered so much to so many lives.–Kaela Lovejoy 

1. What is your role at STAR?1381919_10152584327544050_373927970077668285_n[1]

KL: I am serving with the Louisiana Delta Service Corps as the Volunteer Coordinator at STAR’s New Orleans office. My responsibilities include recruiting and managing volunteers, scheduling hotline and medical advocates, and generally ensuring that everyone involved in our volunteer program is well-trained and qualified to provide the best services they can for survivors.

2. What led you to get involved with STAR and/or join the movement to end sexual violence?

KL: During college, I had the opportunity to become a mentor for local middle school girls with an organization called Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE). In my experiences leading conversations about topics like sexual education, violence, and gender roles with pre-teens, the pervasiveness of sexual violence—on all ends of the spectrum, from cyber-harassment to rape— became clear. During my senior year I was Executive Director of WYSE, and as a student leader I witnessed the passion and commitment of so many young activists fighting to reclaim their bodies from the violence that had affected them. I saw that sexual trauma knows no bounds–not gender, age, class, or race.  Thus, as a feminist and a human being with love for my community, I was inspired to take part in a movement that mattered so much to so many lives.

11700881_10153588754794050_4339674897981385148_o[1]3. What do you find most rewarding about your participation in this movement?

KL: There are days when I leave work and think: “There is nothing I could have done with my time today that would have been more meaningful to me.” I have always felt a drive to take immediate action about something I am passionate about, and the opportunity to both educate others and work directly with survivors as part of my job is extremely fulfilling. I think that while the movement to combat sexual trauma is taking off in some spaces, like college campuses, our society has a lot more fighting to do. I am proud to work with such intelligent, capable people as those who belong to this movement and to be a part of change as the movement grows.

4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

KL: I think it’s true of any social justice movement that those working for a cause will feel burnt out at times. When I’ve had a particularly hard experience, I try to remind myself that I am tough enough to keep going. I also am a huge proponent of having hobbies that you are excited to live for. It’s important to be able to take your mind off of things and immerse yourself in something you truly enjoy. Whether it be playing with my animals or cooking with my friends, you have to find something you love that’s separate from your work.

5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community?

KL: When I was a kid, I was speaking to my mother and happened to say something mean about one of my classmates. In response, she looked at me and reprimanded: “I never want to hear you talk badly about someone ever again. You should always be kind, no matter what.” While it seems simplistic, to this day I think this is one of the most important things she’s ever done for me. As an adult, especially in this line of work, you see how harsh the world is. I truly think that a basic element that is lacking in our culture is empathy. Putting yourself in another’s shoes, trying to understand the way they walk through the world, is the basis of love. If we could all try harder to comprehend the feelings of others and regard them with a level of kindness, I believe that the violence we inflict on others can be lessened. Empathy can be learned to a degree, and this pro-social behavior can be passed on from person to person until kindness transforms into a community norm.

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6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of this movement? 

KL: I would tell them that there is no certain “type” of person that is involved in this movement. Survivors are every kind of person, from every corner of the world, as are those who come forward to help these survivors heal. If you want to see an end to trauma and are willing to understand the basis of power-based violence and oppression, you are welcome. You don’t need to be a warrior. All we ask is that you fight sexual violence how you can, and you bring the knowledge you gain through your participation in this movement to touch every space that you go.

Kaela Lovejoy is the Volunteer Coordinator for STAR in New Orleans. If interested in learning more about volunteering to help staff our newly established sexual assault-specific 24/7 hotline in New Orleans, visit our website or email advocacynola@star.ngo.