Project Sister launches ‘but first, consent’ campaign

Grace Johnson, April 27, 2021

In 1972, two women met in their Claremont College dorm room and discussed the evident issue of sexual assault not only on their campus, but in Pomona and the East San Gabriel Valley at large. Within an hour, Project Sister Family Service’s Founders, Marian Last and Louise Carnachan, created a sexual assault hotline that, today, has grown to become a multi-city agency dedicated to offering a plethora of services to men, women and children who are survivors of sexual assault.

At Cal Poly Pomona, Project Sister has partnered with Survivor Advocacy Services as another avenue of support for students to reach out to in times of crisis. Students who contact SAS are provided information about Project Sister’s counseling services as well as their various hotlines.

“It’s truly up to the students how they choose to connect with resources,” stated Survivor Advocacy Services Senior Coordinator and Advocate Rhonda Dixon. “They can connect with SAS, which can provide confidential resources for them as well as the similar services offered by Project Sister. We are all a source of light after their storm and are here to provide support without judgment.”

Georgia Valdes | The Poly Post

Project Sister, an acronym for Sisters in Service to End Rape, has taken initiative this April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month by encouraging consensual sex education and sexual assault awareness for youth through a partnership with coffee shops throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

The ‘but first, consent’ campaign was created to encourage young adults to normalize communicating consent before engaging in sexual activity.

“Just as important as it is for people to have their coffee in the morning, it is equally as important for individuals to talk about consent before sexual activity,” said Project Sister Outreach Specialist Rebecca Soon. “Because sexual assault can be such a heavy topic, our idea to spread awareness through a fun slogan, playing off of ‘but first, coffee,’ makes it a little bit easier to start the conversation.”

Project Sister has united with popular coffee shops like Klatch Coffee in San Dimas, Cactus Coffee in La Verne, Mi Cafecito Coffee in Pomona along with several others to post ‘but first, Consent’ postcards and merchandise.

“We want people to be comfortable with having conversations like this,” explained Project Sister Outreach Services Director Christina Jimenez. “We are trying to drive folks to make a pledge and commitment to practice consent, and the coffee shops have given us a much broader impact.”

Each of the postcards and drink-sleeves have a QR code that leads to a Linktree page containing a pledge to consent form, a link to Project Sister’s website, hotline phone numbers and a merchandise form for future Project Sister swag send-outs.

Project Sister’s goal is to get at least 200 people to sign the consent pledge. As of April 22, this goal is more than halfway accomplished. Project Sister’s staff is hopeful that this last stretch of April will bring them over their goal.

“It was so overwhelming and scary to launch this campaign, but it has been such a great ride,” said Jimenez. “Seeing the feedback we’ve gotten from people, especially on social media, has been more than rewarding. So many people have thanked us for making this conversation so easy to have.”

Over the past 20 years, Project Sister has accumulated over 40 hotline volunteers as well as over 15 staff members.

“Our mission is to reduce the trauma and risk of sexual assault and child abuse,” explained Jimenez. “We provide several different approaches to our services: prevention education services, community education services, crisis intervention and long-term intervention. We have a 24-hour hotline which is available for people to call just to talk or receive accompaniment services.”

Project Sister’s accompaniment services include supervising hospital visits when someone is receiving a forensic exam, accompanying victims to law enforcement stations, participating in court if survivors must testify and facilitating Title IX issues on college and K-12 campuses.

In addition to these services, Project Sister offers full-time, free of charge counseling services to children, adults and families impacted by sexual assault. Within the past year, Project Sister has hosted 415 counseling clients, answered 717 hotline calls and engaged in 1,497 different community education and prevention education courses which have reached over 4,638 teenagers and 918 college students.

Project Sister’s staff encourages students and individuals to reach out, help and donate in any way that they can to continue to spread awareness and encourage normality in conversations such as this.

“Project Sister’s vision is that one day we won’t need to exist,” said Jimenez. “That’s why we want to promote consent and education, so that someday things can change. We are meeting people on the worst day of their life, but we are able to give them hope that they can get through it and survive it, whatever it may be.”

If individuals or loved ones are experiencing any instances of sexual assault, they are encouraged to reach out to Project Sister’s various service providers.

To sign up to volunteer readers can visit http://projectsister.org/get-involved/be-a-volunteer/ 

To get involved with Project Sister’s Youth Empowering Society (YES) Committee go to http://projectsister.org/get-involved/youth-empowering-society-yes-committee-2/ 

To donate go to http://projectsister.org/ 

24-hour Hotlines:

Rape Crisis Hotline (909)-626-HELP (4357)

Child Abuse Hotline (626)-966-4155

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