New Friends New Life Announces 2019 ProtectHER Award Recipients at Annual Luncheon Launch Party Hosted by Veronica Beard and Highland Park Village


Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Methodist Health System will be honored at the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon on October 11


Submitted By: Elizabeth Lenart | Contributor

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and Methodist Health System were announced as the 2019 ProtectHER Award recipients at the New Friends New Life Annual Luncheon Launch Party, hosted by Veronica Beard and Highland Park Village on September 5. The award recipients will be honored at the annual New Friends New Life luncheon featuring Jada Pinkett Smith, on October 11,

11:30 a.m., at the OMNI Dallas Hotel.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott will be honored as the state ProtectHER award recipient for her leadership and advocacy for the victims of human trafficking. Most recently she partnered with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) as the voice of a public service announcement building upon the statewide “Be the One” anti-human trafficking campaign. The goal is to educate viewers on the most common signs of trafficking found in TABC-licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants.

“Because of the incredible advocacy and outreach by New Friends New Life, the generous support of this community, and the continuing commitment of leaders in this state, Texas is recognized as a national leader in the fight to end sex trafficking,” Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott shared in a written statement. “I am deeply honored to receive a ProtectHER Award and to stand with so many selfless servants who are lifting up the true heroes — women and children who are finding hope and healing and are now victors. I have no doubt that in joining together, we can help end the cruel inhumanity of sex trafficking — there is nothing more powerful than Texans helping Texans.”

Methodist Health System will be recognized as the Local ProtectHER award recipient for the outstanding efforts of the medical staff of Methodist Dallas Medical Center’s emergency room and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program to combat human trafficking by recognizing and assisting patients who are victims. Located in Methodist Dallas’ emergency department since 2014, the SANE program is the second in Dallas County and the only such program in southern Dallas. SANE nurses undergo 180 hours of rigorous training and provide compassionate, confidential care. In April 2018, an emergency room triage nurse’s training and intuition led to the arrest and prosecution of a human trafficking ringleader and the rescue of approximately 20 trafficking victims held captive in a house just a few miles from the hospital. Recognizing something was amiss when a patient came into the ER, the nurse took the patient to a safe room, where she confided she was a victim of human trafficking and needed help. The patient also shared that another sex trafficking victim had been taken to the ER the day before with a gunshot wound. The nurse alerted authorities, which led to the arrest of the trafficker and rescue of the additional trafficking victims.

“Methodist Health System and our SANE program at Methodist Dallas Medical Center are honored to be recognized along with Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and other organizations and individuals who have received the ProtectHER Award for our efforts to end sex trafficking in this region,” Pamela Stoyanoff, MBA, CPA, FACHE, president and CEO, Methodist Health System shared in her statement.  “Our SANE program is proud to have a partner like New Friends New as together we strive to heal our patients and victims of violence long after they leave the hospital.”

“Methodist Health System and Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott are doing powerful work to combat sex trafficking in our city and state,” said Kim Robinson, CEO, New Friends New Life. “The ProtectHER Awards recognize those who are truly impacting change to improve the lives of trafficked and exploited women and girls who need our voice. By working together, we can continue to safeguard the rights of women and girls who are at-risk or have already suffered the trauma of human trafficking.”

Luncheon co-chairs Christa and Ketric Sanford and Shelly Slater and Clayton Huffstutter joined Honorary Chairs Amy and Joe Crafton in generating excitement about the upcoming luncheon and visiting with the nearly 50 attendees throughout the evening.

Shelly Slater and Christa Sanford talked to the crowd about their recent “road trip” https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=332654240780840 to areas where some of the area’s biggest sex trafficking rings have been found.

“We thought we knew what was happening out there until we went on our road trip,” said Shelly Slater. “It was a sobering experience, and we stand up here today for the women that New Friends New Life is serving. We are part of an incredible team at New Friends New Life and are excited to share in this important effort with them.”

Co-Chair Christa Sanford encouraged guests to “buy a table and help us fill the room so that we can raise funds to make an impact.”

“NFNL made a deliberate decision to have men join women as co-chairs this year because sex trafficking is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue that must be addressed by both men and women,” added Robinson. She also introduced a program that’s growing within the organization that will be highlighted at the luncheon.

“New Friends New Life’s Economic Empowerment Program has been a game changer,” said Robinson. “Businesses and organizations are stepping up and giving women within our program a chance to gain skills and conventional employment.  They are gaining tremendous self-esteem and the ability to start a new life and support themselves and their families.”

Launch party guests, including Nancy Best, Marybeth Conlon, Sherri Daniel, Maggie Kipp, Ashlee Kleinert, Jordan Lewis, Carolyn Miller, Bill Minick, Dr. Melissa Tonn, Jack E. Pratt, III, Dr. Trillion Small, Beth Thoele, and Katherine Wynne, sipped on Moet champagne while browsing the latest fall fashions at Veronica Beard who donated a portion of the evenings proceeds back to New Friends New Life.

Luncheon media sponsors are The Dallas Morning News, PaperCity, and NBC 5. Additional sponsors include: The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated (Monarch presenting sponsor); The Jensen Project and Ashlee and Chris Kleinert (Viceroy Sponsors); and Nancy and Randy Best, Carolyn and David Miller, and Lisa and Kenny Troutt (Empress Sponsors).

To sponsor or reserve a table for the Oct. 11 New Friends New Life Luncheon, visit www.newfriendsnewlife.org/luncheon, or call 214-217-8650.


About New Friends New Life:
New Friends New Life, founded in 1998, restores and empowers formerly trafficked and sexually exploited women, teen girls and children.  By providing access to education, job training, interim financial assistance, mental health and spiritual support, New Friends New Life helps women, teenage girls and children overcome backgrounds of abuse, addiction, poverty and limited opportunities.  For more information about New Friends New Life, visit  www.newfriendsnewlife.org or call (214) 965-0935.



Luncheon Honorary Co-Chairs Amy and Joe Crafton


Devon Smith, Methodist Health System; Kim Robinson; Joy Duncan, Methodist Health System


Luncheon Co-Chairs Clayton Huffstutter, Shelly Slater, Christa Sanford, Ketric Sanford


Kristin Wan, with Veronica Beard; Brittany Evans, with Veronica Beard; Hendrika Diehl, Highland
Park Village


Beth Thoele, Robin Bagwell, Bianca Jackson



Jessica Brazeal, Nancy Best, Sarah Burns


Marybeth Conlon, Christa Sanford, Shelly Slater