Out & About: New Friends New Life Luncheon

More than 1,200 attendees of the New Friends New Life luncheon, headlined by actor, director, producer, and activist Kerry Washington, helped raise $1.1 million for the organization.

The Sept. 29 event at the Hyatt Regency Dallas co-chaired by Tracey Nash-Huntley, David S. Huntley, Elizabeth Carlock Phillips, and Kevin Phillips, commemorated 25 years of New Friends New Life.

New Friends New Life Chief Development Officer Priya Murphy presented a 2023 ProtectHER Award to  The Meadows Foundation and Yulise Reaves Waters following a video presentation about their work in the community. The Meadows Foundation has provided grant support, and recently began a partnership with New Friends New Life and Bonton Farms called Liberty Street Garden, which provides victims of trafficking a means to earn a wage. Lone Star Justice Alliance chief innovations officer Yulise Reaves Waters for her legislative and community advocacy.

“At New Friends New Life, we know that societal issues such as poverty, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, the foster care system, and the legal system must be addressed if we are going to move the needle on the issue of human trafficking,” said New Friends New Life CEO Bianca Davis. “Liberty Street Garden, where survivors can earn work experience and income, along with our legal advocacy clinic and our trauma informed clinical team, are all helping us address poverty and the lack of skills, which are barriers to self-sufficiency. Looking ahead, we plan to hire a GED instructor to serve the 30 percent of our women who didn’t finish high school, and we also have our eyes on housing to offer a safe environment for the 35 percent of our women and teen girls who are in homeless shelters. Collectively, collaboratively and in concert we can make a difference.”

Following lunch, guests enjoyed a video detailing the 25-year history of NFNL, narrated by Jessica Waugh, whose mother, Gail Turner, was one of the founders of NFNL. 

Annette Bailey, a survivor and NFNL’s economic empowerment specialist for the past six years spoke in a video shown during the luncheon about her journey and the attorney, Mike Howard, who asked her if she wanted help and helped her get into a rehabilitation facility.

“Once he helped me, I wanted to help myself,” said Bailey. “My probation officer directed me to New Friends New Life, and from there, I went to Eastfield College and received my associate degree in substance abuse counseling and, later, a bachelor’s in sociology from UNT Dallas.”

Howard connected with Bailey after a 2023 article in the Dallas Morning News about her. At the Sept. 29 event, Bailey called Howard to the stage and presented him with a surprise ProtectHER Award.

Davis then introduced Washington and NBC5’s Laura Harris for a conversation focused on her new book, “Thicker Than Water.”

“Annette spoke of generational pain,” said Kerry. “She didn’t have the support and environment she needed to help her. My mother’s mother immigrated from Jamaica through Ellis Island. That strength of hers is what I lean into to break my generational trauma.  I have alcoholism and abuse in my family. I want us to know we can tell the truth and be loved. We can find safe spaces where we can be loved. This is why New Friends New Life is so important. NFNL teaches that you always have agency, and you must build the right support around you so you can stand in that agency.”

For more information, visit New Friends New Life’s website.

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