Deborah Manns, The Virtuous Woman Inc./Project Destiny

Date grant awarded: July 21, 2016

Reverend Deborah Manns’ life changed the day she got a call about a friend’s missing 13-year-old granddaughter. The girl was found 48 hours later at the home of a 31 -year-old man who, the family learned, she met on her way home from school at a nearby fast food restaurant. After promises that he loved her and wanted to take care of her, she ran away to be with him and he began selling her for sex to his friends.

After researching the issue with the Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Department, juvenile court judges, and children and family services, Reverend Deborah learned that hundreds of girls were ending up on the streets or in the juvenile justice system after having been trafficked. Rather than allowing these girls to be criminalized by their pasts, Reverend Deborah wanted to offer them resources, and to partner with law enforcement to make sure these minors were safe. In 2008 the vision for Project Destiny and The Virtuous Woman Inc. (VWI) was born, and Reverend Deborah has served more than 160 girls within the last 9 ½ years.

The Virtuous Woman Inc’s mission is to use community outreach and hands-on advocacy reduce the number of young girls entering into the juvenile justice system. The VWI works to help young people in need, and serves runaways, young people who have found themselves homeless, and victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Through her program, Project Destiny, Reverend Deborah works to spread awareness of how sex trafficking affects our communities, and wants to change the perception that its a choice for minors to engage in sex trafficking.

Reverend Deborah and Project Destiny will receive a flow fund grant via Youth Leadership Hub Team Leader Jamila Banks to help provide the supplies and materials needed to operate their runaway support group, which provides information on available services, a 13 week workshop with The Butterfly Journey, vocational training, and transitional housing.