Project GOLD Drop In Center

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Training Courses in CSEC by Kristi House

What is the Drop In Center?

The Drop In Center is home to Project GOLD, a membership organization for girls who have been exposed to sexual exploitation. The Center welcomes all sexually exploited girls, regardless of their current residential placement. It is a place where girls are empowered to find their strengths in a non-judging, healing environment.

Programming is based on the Victim, Survivor, Leader model of G.E.M.S. widely regarded as the forerunner in helping girls and young women escape sexual exploitation(1). Project GOLD is shaped and directed by survivor input, reflected in the program name created by founding clients. Project GOLD = Girls Owning their Lives and Dreams.

Who is it for?

Girls who have been affected by sexual exploitation are welcome at the Center any time we are open. A counselor is always available to talk, or girls can just relax or study in the home-like setting. Food is always available and casual suppers will be provided during evening groups.

The Center is generally open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Special after-hours accommodations can be made by calling the 24-hour Project GOLD hotline. The Center is located in a residential neighborhood close to midtown.

Please call the Hotline (1-877-465-3916) for address and directions.

We encourage girls to consider membership in Project GOLD in order to take full advantage of the Program’s incentives. Project GOLD also encourages referrals from public and private agencies, law enforcement, and the judiciary. The referrals can be general and open ended, or for a specific number of visits as part of a diversion program.

Since the program is client-informed, exact offerings will change from month to month. A specific monthly schedule can always be obtained by calling the hotline. Referrals can be made by email or by calling the hotline. There is no charge for Project GOLD services and some transportation is available.

How does the Project GOLD Drop In Center work?

While Project GOLD works as a team for each girl, we do believe that one-to-one relationship-building is essential to healing. Therefore, each girl who becomes a Member at the Drop In Center will be assigned a specific staff member for mentoring, advocacy, and coordination for their specialized needs relating to exploitation. Each girl who becomes a Member will have the opportunity to earn monetary rewards by attending groups. Additional incentives are available in the educational initiative and through part-time internships and fellowships. These two pages describe the types of groups offered at the Center.

Project GOLD Drop In Center Programs

New Members’ Orientation

Orientation is designed to welcome new Members and to help them get a better understanding of the organization, the program, staff and all services available. Orientation takes place once a month.

Parent Orientation

This Orientation is designed to help clients’ parents/legal guardians get a better understanding of the organization, the program, staff and all services available. Orientation takes place once a month.

My Life (Trauma-Therapeutic Group)

This group is designed for clients to have the opportunity to discuss traumatic situations and/or events that have occurred in their lives. Clients will learn psycho education, feeling identification and regulation, and cognitive coping and processing. They will also be able to incorporate relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation. This group takes place once a week and incorporates the first four modules of Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Girls, upon request, may transfer to individual therapy from this group.

Survivor Support Group (Therapeutic)

This therapeutic group provides a safe environment for survivors to share their experiences while gaining insight and support. It is also designed to empower survivors to make healthy decisions and avoid self-destructive behaviors. Once a week.

Mindfulness Workshop

In recent years, mindfulness has been introduced to schools and youth-based programs all over the world. Emerging research studies show that this transformational practice decreases stress, improves attention-deficit problems, depression, anxiety, and hostility. It benefits overall health, well-being, social relations, emotional regulation and academic performance. In collaboration with Mindful Kids Miami, Inc.(2) Project GOLD will be offering this training for youth based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. Once a week.

Safer Sex

This class teaches girls appropriate use of various birth control and protection methods, with the goal of reducing the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease or infection. In this class, Members will learn how to protect themselves and make healthier decisions. They will be able to explain the importance of STD testing and condom use, distinguish between bacterial and viral STDs and the consequences and treatment of each. They will also learn to identify key aspects of practicing safe sex, as well as the expiration dates and proper use of condoms. This class will take place once every other month or more as needed.

“Change Your Shoes and Lean In” Empowerment Program

This six-week program designed by author and sexual abuse survivor, Kathy Andersen3 in collaboration with author and Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, guides girls through a series of exercises, processes, and creative inspirations designed to encourage them to discover their dreams and create the change they want to see in their world. Kathy Andersen is a Harvard-trained leadership, success and wellbeing expert, award-winning author, speaker, consultant, and “media go-to expert” for life change.(3)

Life Skills Group

This group is designed to help promote the mental well-being and competence in girls as they learn the necessary skills to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. The group empowers girls to master essential life skills needed for problem solving, critical thinking, effective communication, decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationships, self-awareness-building, empathy, and coping with stress and emotions. Once a week.

Cooking Class

In this Life Skills class, girls will have hands-on experience and be exposed to various palates. This class is designed to help clients learn cooking skills that last a lifetime and that can also help them increase self-esteem, life skills, and perceptions of abilities. The class is designed by a Kristi House Therapist. One a month.

Arts & Crafts Group

The creative process involved in expressing oneself artistically can help girls resolve issues as well as develop and manage behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness. This group will enable girls to use different mediums to express themselves creatively and non-verbally, while discovering new talents and enhance existing ones. It will also develop artistic skills, craft abilities, fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, analytic skills, color coordination and creativity with use of color. The class seeks to foster individual creativity and provide a sense of hope for the future. Twice a month.

Recreational Group

This group is designed to help girls improve their mental and emotional well-being and help reduce depression, stress and anxiety, build confidence and socialize more effectively through fun and recreational activities. Activities may incorporate sports, games, dance and movement, drama, music, movies and more. Once a week.

Yoga Classes

The Center’s partner will provide classes that empower girls by addressing the symptoms of trauma and poverty such as limited education, addiction, violence, incarceration, teen pregnancy, HIV, and more through the practice of yoga. Girls will learn techniques for grounding, calming, and centering both their bodies and their minds. Once a week.

GED and Educational Initiative Program

The Educational Initiative Program is designed to recognize and encourage Members’ school achievement. This program will assist girls with any questions they have regarding financial aid, tutoring, etc. Members will receive a stipend for passing all classes and continuing to further their education. Incentives are as follow:

  • $100 for enrolling into a GED Program, training program, or into College.
  • $500 for completing and passing all classes per school year. For Middle and High School students, this will be each report card.
  • $750 for earning a High School Diploma/GED
  • $2,000 for earning an Associate’s Degree or a certificate/license for a long-term training/ vocational program.
  • $4,000 for earning a Bachelor’s Degree
  • The Educational Initiative Members meeting takes place once per week.
  • The GED Online Study program takes place three times a week.

Youth Leadership Intensive Program

This group is based on the G.E.M.S. Youth Leadership Intensive Program designed to move Members from victims to survivors to leaders. This is an eight-week intensive program to help build critical thinking and concrete leadership skills in a supportive and loving environment.

Through this program, girls will be able to have a better understanding of the social conditions that keep commercial sexual exploitation in place. They will build public-speaking and community-organizing skills through outreach, events, advocacy and media work. The goal is to prepare youth survivors to lead the national movement to end CSEC as peer mentors and community educators.

Graduates of this program are eligible to apply for internship and later for fellowship positions at Project GOLD. Successful completion of both will make a client eligible to apply for permanent staff positions with the program. This program is also intended to help prepare participants for college and other educational settings.

Internships and Fellowships are a critical aspect in preparing girls to enter the professional working environment. The first step is the 90-day Internship (max.10 hrs./wk), followed by the nine-month Fellowship (max, 15 hrs./wk during the academic year and 20-25 during the summer). Both are stipend activities.

The eight-week Youth Leadership Intensive takes places over the summer. Members must apply.

Open messages from Project GOLD girls to girls who are thinking about making a change:

Dear Friend

Stop choosing the wrong path, tell someone, make the correct decision. Be who you are. Don’t sell your body. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Stop letting men, not even, boys, manipulate you. You’re too beautiful for that.

I recommend Project Gold because you have someone to talk to and someone who cares, who you can trust. Most people will just be disgusted and look at you in a dirty way, but the therapists and interns won’t. They won’t judge you and especially keep your info in confidentiality. Take this letter into consideration.

Love,

Project Gold leadership group member

________

Dear Love,

I just want you to know that you are loved and cared about. You are too precious to let any man or woman disrespect you or your body. I think Project GOLD would be good for any girl that is, or has been, in the life, because you will have people who care and are willing to listen and can relate and also understand what you are going through. They can give you resources to help you with things that you need. But all I’m asking is just think of so much betta things you could do with your life. If I could do it, I know you can.

– Project Gold leadership group member

Program Partner Notes

1 Founded in 1998 in New York City by Rachel Lloyd, G.E.M.S is the nation’s largest organization providing direct services specifically to commercially sexually exploited girls and young women.

2 Mindful Kids Miami, Inc. (MKM), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2011, is dedicated to bringing mindfulness training to all children, grades Pre-K through 12, in Miami-Dade County. The intention of Mindful Kids Miami is to assist schools and childcare organizations to teach the skill of mindfulness to children and teens in school classrooms both public and private; hospitals and other healthcare centers; and, institutional settings.

3 Change Your Shoes ~ Live Your Greatest Life, a inspirational book by Kathy Andersen, shows how anyone can overcome difficult circumstances to achieve their dreams.www.kathyandersen.com

Kristi House, Inc. Orlowitz-Lee Children’s Advocacy Center
1265 NW 12th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33136
305-547-6800

projectgoldreferrals@kristihouse.org

Project GOLD Hotline: 1-877-GOLD-916

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