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Phoenix Suns open learning center for sex trafficking victims

Suns and Mercury vice president Ann Meyers Drysdale said that women at Phoenix Dream Center need to support one another. (Photo by Eric Newman/Cronkite News).

PHOENIX — Sarah Krahenbuhl was shocked to hear about the prevalence of sex trafficking in the Phoenix area.

The executive director of Phoenix Suns Charities said as soon as the issue was brought to light, it was an easy decision to team up with the Phoenix Dream Center to try to help the hundreds of victims that seek their services. On Wednesday, the Suns and their charity held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Phoenix Suns Charities Learning Center – a space specifically directed for education of local victims.

A $100,000 grant from the Suns plus $20,000 more from Verizon will also go toward computers and other high-tech learning equipment innovated by Verizon.

“For hundreds of women, they will now have an opportunity to learn, advance their life and break the cycle of trauma that they have experienced,” Krahenbuhl said.

Brian Steele, the executive director of Phoenix Dream Center, was taken aback by the generosity of both the Suns and Verizon, and led a group tour of the new space.

Phoenix Dream Center, before the building of the learning center, had a GED program. But Steele said the women who had come through there struggled both in college and the workplace, many without proper teaching technology.

Now, the hope is to have a place for women, especially young students with children and to be able to get a solid education while receiving the protection the Dream Center provides.

“It’s just amazing to have that safe, beautiful space to let that new person begin to grow and let that new person begin to thrive,” Steele said.

Suns vice president and broadcaster Ann Meyers Drysdale said it was up to the women themselves to thrive.

“Women have to support women, and know that silent women do not make history. You have to step up, and you have to believe in yourself, because we believe in you,” she said.

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