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Build a World You Believe in

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

narrative by Founding Director, Gillian Wood, 2018

I have seen what the devil’s playground of humanity does to little girls. I have seen girls come through my door covered in strangulation and handprint bruises from head to toe. I have seen girls return from the ER broken and bleeding with stitches in the their skull. I have seen self-harm wounds so bad there is more scar tissue to the square inch than skin. I have seen girls induce vomiting to throw up the pain of their past. I have seen girls decapitate stuffed animals with their bare hands in a rage against their mother, their trafficker. I have seen a 4-foot-something break my house in a drunken rage. I have seen kids get handcuffed, a lot. I have seen children fall to their knees wanting to die. I have seen children fall to their knees wanting to live. I have fallen to my knees in tears, more than once. I have seen every one of my staff cry. I have seen every one of my staff love unconditionally with everything they have. I have seen law enforcement treat black girls differently. I have seen a welfare system forget about the rights of indigenous children. I have seen rainbow children feel the trickle down effect of bigotry from the white house as they shrink to nothing. I have conducted a sting with the FBI and sat like a sitting duck in a park surrounded by unmarked cop cars, like you see in the movies. I have shaken the hand of a murderer. I have had my life threatened with a gun.

I have seen the power of love to change a life. I have marched the streets of downtown hand in hand with children, yelling for their human rights and mine. I have seen them hold hands while roller-skating on a Friday night like carefree teenagers. I have seen them put on an impromptu fashion show and strut their stuff with confidence. I have seen them laugh until they cry over burps and farts. I have seen them spin at the playground until they fall over dizzy. I have seen kids dance around my living room as they swoon over the new hip artist. I have seen them argue over Team Edward or Team Jacob. I have seen them love animals so hard they cry. I have seen them run around in their onesie pajamas with pure excitement on Easter doing their first egg hunt, ever. I have seen them wake up on Christmas morning to presents under the tree for the first time, ever. I have seen them shy away from blowing out candles on their birthday cake, because they’ve never done that before. And they don’t know what to wish for. I have seen girls walk out of juvenile detention, or rehab, or a psych ward and taste their first breath of freedom. I have watched them challenge everything they've known and bravely walk away from the toxicity in their worlds. I have seen children give hugs so tight that they may never let go. I have seen girl warriors tired at the end of another day of battle sound asleep in their beds cuddling their favorite stuffed animal. Right where they belong.

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