New Hope Girls is a purpose-driven group of people on a mission to shine light into the darkest of places. Their work is being done within the barrios of the Dominican Republic (DR), where the systemic problems of abuse, sex trafficking, human slavery, and disrespect for women are staggering. Rather than seeing these problems and feeling hopeless, the people of New Hope choose to fight back against the darkness and create lasting change, one girl at a time.
The organization has three core functions that all roll up and into their mission. They have a safe house (the Academy) for girls who are rescued from dark circumstances. In the home, the girls receive physical, emotional and spiritual care. There is the workshop (New Hope Creations) in which adult women make lovely, high-quality and hand-made purses and bags. The workshop helps support and sustain the academy. And finally, there is a community outreach program which allows New Hope to reach a large group of young girls each week. It is a very intentional organizational structure that has created conditions to serve girls and women in a way that will result in change.
As an organization, it is our calling to change the way people think so we can change the way they act. This is how we create hope for generations to come. We see that in the future we will be able to watch our girls rescuing others.New Hope Girls
My trip to New Hope was around a year in the making. I knew I wanted to contribute and align with this organization as soon as I was introduced to their Executive Director, Joy. I quickly found a kindred spirit in Joy and a longing to serve practically.
My dad and I made the journey to LaVega on our own, it was self-led from an earnest place of wanting to yield impact and support their ministry. Dad worked alongside Joy’s husband, Vidal, on improvement projects and yard work around the academy.
My time was spent listening, observing, and taking it all in. I was honored to listen to stories of the women, girls, and leaders that are New Hope Girls. My goal was to document their stories, listen to their words, and be a thinking-partner in how their organization could continue to share their story with a broad audience.
I cherish the journal entries and personal notes I wrote during this experience. The one excerpt that keeps me grounded and reminds me that impact matters and that my gifts and talents have the ability for good.
…..I sat in the barrio with all the noises, smells, and sights, and felt their words. I was moved to tears and welcomed into their laughter.
During one meeting, with two key leaders of New Hope, I asked, “What can I do to best serve you over the next few days, while I’m here.” One woman said, “What are your strengths?” I shared I felt I was gifted with words and the desire to encourage others. She simply replied, “Be our voice.”
I’m not sure I can recall a professional moment that was so significant. Be the voice of the women who are saving young girls from abuse, trafficking, and systemic violence? Be the voice for these girls who are living miracles? That request was humbling; an honor and a privilege.
Being their voice gives me a chance to contribute in lasting ways. By interviewing the women and girls, documenting their stories, and helping to share them with the world, I have been given a way to help beyond the contained visit.….
When I left law enforcement to pursue a career in marketing and communications I was concerned that I had left my calling and would never find work that was as deeply satisfying. I was wrong. This journal excerpt and reflection underscores how we can all find ways to use our gifts and talents for good. I urge you to consider what organization, cause or person could benefit from the expertise and passion you possess. Do not downplay your ability to contribute and create positive impact.
For you, positive impact may be as simple as sharing your story. When we can step into a place of vulnerability, to share our truth, lives are changed and impact is made. The girls and women of New Hope have powerful stories that radiate redemption, hope and joy; their stories are powerful.
Your story is powerful too.
Since my visit to New Hope Girls my involvement with the organization has changed. I’m now proud to serve on their board, alongside other incredible leaders. Our skill sets, work experiences and career trajectories are all varied but our collective love for the people of New Hope is shared.
New Hope has also entered into an amazing collaboration with Vera Bradley since my initial visit. This most recent International Women’s Day (March 8, 2020) they launched a co-branded bag with 75% of proceeds going directly to New Hope. The organization is growing in size and scope while maintaining a steadfast commitment to the women and girls they exist to serve. Please take time to learn more about them and connect with them on social media!