We are so excited to announce that Chanel Dionne Toleston, Open Doors Survivor-Mentor, was presented the Survivor Advocate of the Year Award by Attorney General Ashley Moody at the 2020 Human Trafficking Summit.
Chanel has served the Northeast Region of the Open Doors Outreach Network for nearly two years, and with her help, the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center has served nearly 200 survivors of sex trafficking.
Care for Survivors of All Ages
During the awards ceremony, Attorney General Moody praised Chanel for the work she has done and continues to do to assist victims of sex trafficking on their paths to well-being. Moody told a heartwarming story of how Chanel helped a young trafficked mother find a home when she could no longer receive help from the foster care system. Knowing how important stability is while recovering from trauma, Chanel went above and beyond to support this survivor, and even worked with the community for help to furnish this young woman’s apartment! This is just one of many stories that demonstrate Chanel’s passion for this population and her genuine connection with victims.
Additionally, Chanel was one of the first to start an adult support group for sex trafficking survivors in Duval County. This effort was an immediate success and is continuing to expand to other areas in Northeast Florida. Chanel is truly adept at identifying community needs and working with others to fill gaps in services.
Vicky Basra, President & CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center shared “It is an honor to work alongside someone like Chanel. Chanel is an invaluable member of our Open Doors Outreach Team and uses her many gifts and experiences to foster deep relationships with the survivors we serve.”
Evidence-Based Impact of Survivor-Mentors
Research, such as A Longitudinal Evaluation of a Survivor-Mentor Program for Child Survivors of Sex Trafficking in the United States, has demonstrated the power Survivor-Mentors like Chanel bring to supporting victims of sex trafficking. It has been reported that after just 6 months of working with Survivor-Mentors, victims are less likely to be trafficked in the future and are less likely to come into contact with drugs and criminal behavior. This shows that even with a few months of Survivors like Chanel working with victims of sex trafficking, lasting changes are made in victim’s lives. At the Open Doors Outreach Network, we have also been able to witness firsthand that with support from Survivor-Mentors, victims experience more opportunities to have a better future.
All of us at Voices for Florida feel so blessed that Chanel Dionne Toleston is part of our Open Doors Outreach Network. Congratulations Chanel!
About the Author
Robyn Metcalf is the statewide director of the Open Doors Outreach Network, a 24/7/365 network of care for victims and survivors of sex trafficking age 10-24 in 32 Florida counties.
Metcalf received her Bachelor of Social Work degree, Masters of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Social Policy and Administration and Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from Florida State University. She was named a 2020 Notable Nole from the Florida State University Alumni Association, recognizing graduates that have made exceptional achievements and significant contributions to his or her profession, community/society or the university. In 2016, the College of Social Work recognized Robyn with the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, a prestigious award recognizing outstanding graduates within the past 10 years who have demonstrated significant leadership and exceptional contributions to social work.
Metcalf is a former Guardian ad Litem, Relay for Life of North Leon Leadership Committee Member, Volunteer Training Assistant with 211 Big Bend, and is a current member of the Junior League of Tallahassee. She also serves as Treasurer for the Florida State University College of Social Work Alumni Group.