Arielle Curry, director of the Salvation Army’s anti–trafficking effort in Philadelphia, Pa., talks about the importance of female leadership, her women’s event–based ministry, and how the women helped by the New Day program also serve the Kensington community.
The newest role in my life is being a mother to my two–year–old son Oliver. It has also been my hardest role, but one that I love and have enjoyed so much. I’m happy with how The Salvation Army has been with new mothers like me who also want to handle careers. The Army knows that I carry a lot of responsibilities in my work life, but they also understand the responsibility that I have waiting at home.
As a young intern working at my first job, it was important for me to have someone like Jamie Manirakiza value my opinion on this new project to help women. That type of female leadership changed my life. Helping women was my passion, but I needed Jamie to guide me, help me see what I was good at, and what I needed help with. Now, we have young women working at New Day who are as passionate about helping survivors of human trafficking as Jamie and I. Good leadership did a lot for my career and my potential. I want them to also experience that.
The New Day to Stop Trafficking Program began in 2010, when Jamie Manirakiza, who at the time was working with the Army’s HUD 202 older adult services of Philadelphia, took on the extra responsibility to focus on anti–human trafficking efforts. I was her first intern, working the night shift at New Day’s first service, a drop–in center in Kensington, Pa. I met women traumatized from rape, abuse, and addiction. In only a few years, New Day went from barely having any money to help others, to a million–dollar annual program with a drop–in center, a transitional home for women, a task force that works with law enforcement, a 24/7 hotline, and services for women who suffer from substance use disorder.
When I began a women’s event–based ministry at my church, Bethel Philadelphia Mills, I thought, it would be nice to have 50 women come. Instead, we welcomed close to 300 during our first meeting in 2014. Every year since, we’ve grown. Now at our events, we have about 650 women from the church. In these meetings, we host workshops, giveaways, games, and family activities. I use my ‘Type A’ personality at my job, but to do the best work that I can daily, I need a creative outlet like this event–based ministry.
One night during my first year at the Kensington drop–in center, a woman came to our door. We knew her well; a pimp had found her when she was 15. She later had five of his children. That night, she was going to throw herself in front of a train, but she came to us because she knew that we would care about her. What New Day does is create safety for a population that feels unsafe. We remember those who think no one will remember them. Today, we have a special wall in Kensington where women can leave their handprints. With us, they will always be safe, valued, and remembered.
interview by Hugo Bravo