The three-day anniversary celebration of the Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) started with a hopeful message from Sandie Morgan during chapel on Thursday morning, September 19. Addressing a few hundred eager Vanguard students, Morgan told them she was inspired early on by her father’s advice that she can do anything she works hard to do. Her father would be proud.
The momentum of Morgan’s sentiment expressed at chapel earlier that morning continued into Thursday evening as dozens of people gathered at the Newport Lido Theater in Newport Beach to view Girl Rising. Directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, the documentary tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries who each face extraordinary circumstances to achieve something many Americans take for granted every day: life, liberty, and justice.
Following the documentary, Morgan explained to the audience that when she first viewed Girl Rising she was disappointed that she did not have the opportunity to discuss her feelings and reactions. In order to prevent anyone from feeling as she did, Morgan setup a panel to allow the audience to share their thoughts and feelings as they processed the sobering content of the film. The panel included Morgan and two experts: Cory Trenda, senior area director for WorldVision and Ruthie Hanchet, GCWJ board member and expert in child protection and children’s rights. Dr. Andy Stenhouse, dean of the Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS), moderated the panel.
A more festive mood came on Friday evening, as Vanguard students, faculty, staff and administrators congregated in the rotunda of the Heath building to celebrate the GCWJ’s inception ten years earlier. With the help of Assistant Vice President of Development and alum Justin McIntee, four visually rich panels, each displaying messages about the key components in the Center’s evolution, were unveiled. Attendees also enjoyed cake and other treats as if attending a birthday party for a very special friend.
On Saturday, September 21, the last of the celebratory events took place at the Balboa Bay Club’s Grand Ballroom. With KOCE-TV/PBS SoCal’s Ed Arnold as emcee, approximately 300 guests attended the More Priceless than Diamonds luncheon. Community leaders such as Kathleen Eaton of Birth Choice Health Clinics, and politicians such as Congressman Ed Royce, Mayors Keith Curry of Newport Beach and Bruce Whitaker of Fullerton, attended the luncheon.
Set against a beautiful white, luminous backdrop that evoked images of innocence and purity, keynote speaker Ernie Allen, founder and president/CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (IMEC), spoke about the sobering reality that child trafficking for sex has been on the rise locally and globally since the proliferation of the Internet. Allen is a world leader in the fight against child abduction, sexual exploitation, sexual violence and human trafficking.
Allen dispelled five myths about trafficking: the somewhere else myth, somebody else myth, victimless crime myth, street crime myth and women’s issue myth. Trafficking is a pervasive issue that is not limited to any specific region, area or type of people; it’s everywhere. Allen also talked about the need to “attack the demand” for such an “easy, low risk, extremely profitable and re-sellable” commodity.
Overall, the GCWJ’s three-day anniversary celebration was a success in numbers and in impact. In total, the Center raised $75,000 in proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and the live auction held during the luncheon. GCWJ Director Morgan encouraged attendees at all the events to get involved. “We are not the same. We all need each other,” she said.
To read the OC Register’s article about the GCWJ’s 10th anniversary celebrations, click here.