BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Like many events, the best of Bakersfield Gala went virtual last year due to the pandemic. After two and a half years, Global Family, the Daughter Project, and 23ABC are excited to host an in-person event Saturday evening for a good cause.
“We’re seeing a rise in cases; we’re seeing a lot more children put at risk. It didn’t help being in a pandemic when so many kids have been more online than they ever have been before, because predators are there, waiting for kids in these kinds of venues and it’s been tough.” Jennifer Jensen Founder and Executive Director, Global Family.
Jensen said the need for creating awareness for the reality of human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and having places for survivors to go has become greater than ever.
Throughout the pandemic, the Global Family continued the mission that has been their name since 2007 to help these young survivors not only in Kern County but around the world.
“Traditionally, children like that were sent away to institutions and could sometimes be one of more than 100 children living in a particular facility, and we just didn’t feel like that was right. Every child deserves to be raised within a family context,” said Jensen.
Here at the Wonderful Aviation Hanger, they’re setting up for the best of Bakersfield Gala, which they haven’t held in person for two and half years because of the pandemic. Jensen said this year their goal is to raise over $300,000 dollars for the work global family and the daughter project does.
“It was really about seeing a need of putting these kids in families and getting them the type of care, we all want for our own children,” said Jensen.
In 2016, Global Family’s founder and executive directors said they also started their holistic approach to helping young children, called the daughter project to further this mission through prevention and intervention programs, and shelters.
“Where these children can come to receive all the care and the love that they need to start that healing process. And then we want to restore them back home with their families as soon as possible, or family-based care,” said Jensen,
While tickets to the 11th annual Best of Bakersfield Gala are sold out, Jensen said there are other ways for the community to support their work volunteering throughout the year, donations, and bidding on items at the gala. To help them with their goal. Including building a new facility for girls ages 12-17.
“We’re going to turn our current facility for girls 18 and above, for young ladies who are transitioning into adulthood. We would like to move our current center to a place a little bit out of town, with some nice space around it for outdoor activities and good places to heal,” said Jensen.
Jensen encourages those who are facing human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation to get help right away because there are lots of people there to help that want to help you. She said you can talk to a trusted adult, call law enforcement, call 911, or the human trafficking hotline. That number is (1 (888) 373-7888).