Founder of Crowns of Hope: Toni McKinley
I am a survivor and founder of Crowns of Hope that helps survivors restore from the effects of sex trafficking. I began Crowns of Hope back in 2011 and became tax exempt in 2012. When I began this organization I was still in the deep trenches of the difficult therapeutic process being restored from all the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse I endured as a child. But I had received enough of the benefits from therapy at this time that I knew I wanted others to experience it too.
I had many fears and triggers. One of them was communicating with people. I especially feared talking to people on the phone. As a matter of fact, it took me till the year 2012 when I finally gave in and purchased my first cell phone. Having zero business experience and fearing talking to others when I needed help or information; I did as much research on my own on how to begin a non-profit. I bought the book for dummies on how to start a non-profit (which I highly recommend as the most useful purchase for this subject). I Googled other organizations and attempted to learn about how to start a non-profit. Despite all the work I did on my own I still had to make phone calls and actually talk to people. I experienced panic attacks, I procrastinated for weeks, I practiced over and over what I needed to say. Most of the time they were simple calls that needed to be made such as, “Where can I find and download (fill in word here) form?” I had such a fear of feeling stupid that it controlled my life up until 2011 when I began facing this fear. Sometimes I think the emotional and mental abuse has had a stronger hold on me than the sexual or physical abuse. But I faced it and I almost have it conquered. I still have fear every once in a while but I do not have any more panic attacks. Therapy brought me to a point where I could begin to face those fears and not let it control my life anymore. Now it is 2014 and because I overcame I have been able to help dozens of girls pay for therapy, personally rescue two survivors, teach law enforcement how to communicate with and spot children who are sex trafficked, teach hundreds of adults how to protect their children from sex trafficking, teach dozens of adolescents awareness about sex trafficking, speak at the United Nations to diplomats and ambassadors and influence their trafficking laws, complete my degree in professional counseling in two years time, and personally counsel for free survivors of trafficking. I could not have done any of that without overcoming my fear of speaking to people.
I can’t tell you enough how important therapy is for these girls. Their whole life can change! They will be better mothers, sisters, daughters, and community members. Crowns of Hope currently has a waiting list for girls who cannot afford therapy because we need more funds. Please, please help us by participating in our fundraisers and charities. All the proceeds go to therapy. Any personal appearances, traveling, etc. I pay out of my own pocket … plus I counsel girls for free! About 10-15% of all the donations I receive go to fundraising and 85-90% benefit these girls by paying for their counselors who agree to a reduced rate.
When you choose to participate in a fundraiser you are choosing to let a survivor know that they can survive!
I hope to see and meet you at our next event!
I was trafficked beginning at the age of 14. Because of Crowns of Hope I was able to receive counseling twice a week. I struggle with overwhelming emotions of shame and guilt. I learned through counseling that the rape of eight men that happened to me at the age of 13 was not my fault. I have been in counseling for 5 months now and so many people tell me I have changed so much for the better. I still have a lot of work to do but since I began I do not have as many outbursts of anger, I feel better about my self more and more, and I have goals I have set! I want to complete my GED and rescue other girls trapped in sex trafficking.
Thank you for helping me find hope and a future!