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Meet Ashley Williams of Magdalena’s Daughters in Inland Empire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Williams.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Pomona, CA. I was raised by a single mother of three. I am the oldest of my siblings and as you can imagine it was not easy for my family to make it through a period in life when it was all about survival. I lived in a disenfranchised neighborhood and was exposed to much as a result. Because of the support, I received from my family, my teachers, and my community, I grew up much differently than imagined. I grew up wanting to serve and help others because of the helps and support that was provided to me at a young age. I grew up to be passionate about at-risk youth and advocating for youth to do better no matter what circumstances they grew up in. In high school, I was the type of student to befriend kids with mental disabilities to help make them feel accepted. I was friends with every clique and social group there was in high school. People told me that I was easy to talk to and would share their personal issues and struggles with me. This brought me down the path to becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I want people to thrive and realize that they can overcome and be anything they want to be.

After graduate school, I started working for a local county as a Clinical Therapist serving intensive foster youth in group homes. It was there that I realized that there was a high need for residential programs that would provide therapeutic services for sexually exploited females or female youth who were victims of sex trafficking. I was exposed to a lot of the systemic problems and horrific stories about foster youth becoming victims of sex trafficking and decided that I needed to make a change. It was God’s calling he placed on my heart. That is when I developed Magdalena’s Daughters, a nonprofit short term residential therapeutic program for female sex trafficked youth.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Everything great will have struggles. Besides the typical challenges of getting funding and ensuring my program is effective with establishing a residential program for sexually exploited youth, the biggest challenge is probably getting outside of my own head. I would sometimes struggle with this being “too big for me,” but I know my God and I know what He told me to do, so I had to push any negative self-talk from my head and just work!

Please tell us about Magdalena’s Daughters.
Magdalena’s Daughters Short Term Residential Treatment Program is committed to transforming and enhancing the quality of life for young women who have been sexually exploited or have been sexually trafficked ranging from 12-18 years old. Our program is designed to provide education and life skills for young women who are at risk for sexual exploitation, who have been sexually exploited, or have been sex trafficked in their lives. Our program is preventative, responsive, and reinforces recovery to try to reach young women before they become trafficked, to disrupt the cycle of sexual exploitation and trafficking, and help these women maintain recovery perspective from cycles of trafficking and abuse. The purpose of our residential treatment program is to not only provide housing but to provide residents with familial care, teach residents life skills, job skills, build self-esteem, address their mental health, and to provide residents with a sense of purpose for their lives.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was I was a goofy and silly nerd. I was energetic and carried myself with so much joy. I was such a perfectionist and did everything because I knew I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. At one point in high school, I was in the Marching Band, A cheerleader, and in track all at the same time! I’ve always pushed myself to be great even when it was challenging. I completed undergrad school in three years, just to challenge and prove I could graduate early if I wanted to. My mom said that when I was a toddler, I would not stay put in the crib and would climb over it to explore my house, To sum it all up, my personality has been consistent throughout my life. I am the type of woman who has vision and will execute in excellence no matter how challenging the task may be. I am very dedicated to the mission but know how to relax, have fun, and be adventurous.

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