BENEFITING: GIRLS EDUCATIONAL AND MENTORING SERVICES INC
EVENT DATE: Jun 06, 2015
Michele Merritt wrote -
Hello Family, Friends, and other Supporters:
As you might know, I am planning to circumnavigate the Island of Key West this June - not by boat or plane, but by myself, in the water. I've been dreaming of and training for this race for a long time and have decided that 2015 is the year I complete the annual Swim Around Key West. The race is June 6, and I could use your support. Of course I would love for you all to be there cheering me on, but what is more important to me than cheerleading is your help funding an organization in which I strongly believe. Knowing I am swimming for a cause will not only make the race a lot more meaningful and worthwhile, but it will also give me some much needed motivation to finish what is likely to be the hardest event I will ever complete in my life: 12.5 miles of swimming in the ocean.
So what is my chosen charity and why do I support it so strongly? I am swimming for GEMS, an educational and mentoring service for young girls and women who have been victims of sexual exploitation and/or trafficking. Did you know that an estimated 100,000 children are victims of forced or coerced sex trading in the U.S. alone? Internationally, the number is 5.5 million, and those numbers are on the rise. I have long admired GEMS, ever since I read Girls Like Us, a memoir written by the founder of the organization, Rachel Lloyd, who was herself a victim of the illegal sex trade. Here is a great video about GEMS.
Every little bit will help. Even if you can only donate the minimum, with all the friends and family I have, and your help spreading the word, it CAN add up quickly.
Rest assured, I've researched this site and your donation is secure. When you donate, you will receive a receipt showing you made a tax-deductible donation (I've donated to my own cause just to be sure!) Even if I fail to finish the race, your donation will go to a good cause and you can feel good having done something for these girls.
Also note that you DO NOT HAVE TO send a portion of your donation to Crowdrise. They suggest 10% commission, but you CAN EDIT THIS when checking out. You can choose for 100% of your donation to go to GEMS. (I prefer this :-) But it's your choice.)
One last note: if the 10 dollar minimum is too much for you, no worries! I have a gofundme site up and running as well with only a 5 dollar minimum. I am using that site to help fund my race-related expenses and once I reach my goal, all other money will come right back here and go directly to GEMS. Check it out HERE.
Thank you for your help!
Here is an excerpt directly from the GEMS website, so you can better understand what your donation will fund:
"Girls Educational and Mentoring Services’ (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of girls and young women by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth. Your donation will help the agency to accomplish the following agency-wide goals: the nearly 360 girls and young women GEMS serves annually will gain access to basic services and benefits, along with building the self-esteem and social skills necessary for navigating independent adulthood; advance their education; become active, empowered leaders in the fight to end the commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of youth; and develop valuable and transferrable work skills, all while healing from the commercial sex industry, making meaningful connections with each other and with allies, and breaking cycles of poverty and abuse. GEMS believes that, with the right opportunities within reach, CSE girls and young women can overcome the complex web of contributing factors that perpetuate commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking, including racism, poverty, gender-based violence, and the criminalization of youth. Through the individual success of GEMS’ members and their mentoring roles at the agency, families break cycles of abuse, educated and empowered youth are equipped with the tools necessary to ascend from poverty, creating, in turn, more equitable and just communities."