Sponsored by POP Social Enterprise
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month and POP Social Enterprise is paying tribute to generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history.
In this issue we highlight an impact-driven nonprofit founded by two Asian American Pacific Islanders who are "Making A Difference" M.A.D. for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking.
Written by Pat Craddick
Tanya Gupta [left] Andrew Moon [right]
Fueled by a desire to merge crafts-making with empowerment, here there and EVERYwhere (htE), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, began as an NYU student-led initiative by co-founders Tanya Gupta and Andrew Moon.
Moved through personal experiences, Tanya and Andrew launched the program in 2014 at two NYC shelters before partnering with the Manhattan Family Justice Center in 2017. Tanya continues to share her experience as a Multimedia Artist and Craft Educator alongside other talented teaching artists at htE's weekly creative expression workshops, while Andrew oversees operations.
While counseling is essential, htE found that more holistic outlets were needed for survivors to de-stress and express. “Many survivors have few possessions and also need a support system to work towards self-sufficiency.” Says Ms. Gupta. “Our 12-week curriculum accompanies the 3 months of services most survivors receive in shelters, while allowing them to re-join as often as they’d like. Many current teaching artists were once participants as well, giving back to the community.” She added.
Since 2014, htE has been providing a platform for creative expression to survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking. “As a non-profit creative expression program, htE workshops provide survivors with a multitude of creative outlets, enabling participants to explore and discover what mediums resonate most with them” says Ms. Gupta. “And through guided activities, stress-reduction practices, and “open studio” time, survivors are able to engage in crafts holistically, in-person and online” she added.
Survivors learn ethical design concepts and sustainability, with the opportunity to sell their one-of-a-kind designs via the nonprofit’s Etsy platform and through artisan markets (when safe). 100% of the net profits go to the survivor, which help to increase financial stability and confidence, while items that may have once ended in the waste stream are given a new life.
“Trauma cannot always be expressed in words, or even directly recalled, yet can have a profound impact on an individual's ability to work or simply form connections with others” says Mr. Moon. He went on to say, “Crafting allows survivors to express themselves creatively, working through difficult emotions and gradually building trust to connect with themselves and each other.”
“Since our inception, we have met so many wonderful new people who have helped keep our program going. COVID-19 didn’t stop us from getting many new participants to explore self-expression and entrepreneurship” says Ms. Gupta. “This year we welcomed 6 new participants, totaling 68 survivors into our 12-week workshop cycles. We are also eternally thankful for our dedicated volunteers and donors who have generously offered their resources to make an impact. We now have reached over 150 individuals who have believed in our mission enough to donate art supplies or funds” she added.
“Our participants feel empowered when they choose to sell their items and someone takes it home as their own. In total they have raised nearly 3,000 dollars via online and in-person markets to support themselves and their artistic endeavors. And 100% of our participants have reported feeling positive benefits and 83% continue to explore the crafts they learned from our online cycles" says Mr. Moon.
The online program has been more accessible to many survivors and the organization plans to continue offering both online and in-person options to serve as many as they can.
“Due to the success of our virtual programming during this pandemic, we have committed to continuing our virtual cycles alongside our in-person programming once it is safe to open again. This will allow us to serve an even larger group of survivors across the country while continuing our gatherings at the Manhattan Family Justice Center. However, this means we will need even more supplies to accommodate our larger group of survivors, both virtually and in person. We are looking for funds to accommodate each of our resilient participants with their own personal set of art supplies” says Ms. Gupta.
The organization seeks to build a stronger foundation by developing its operations team. At the moment, htE is 100% volunteer-run. However, they plan to be able to compensate teaching artists and staff on a regular basis, so they can consistently provide quality workshops and continue their impact.