Happy New Year! As we celebrate the beginning of NOVA’s 50th anniversary, we invite you to journey back to NOVA's humble beginnings. Founded in 1974 with a vision to stop sexual violence, our roots echo the commitment to making a difference.

As we mark this significant milestone, let's also recognize national Human Trafficking Awareness month and NOVA's unwavering dedication to addressing human trafficking in Bucks County. NOVA has been at the forefront, raising awareness and ensuring services to combat this pervasive issue. Read more about how you can join us in spreading awareness and empowering survivors to reclaim their lives.

Throughout this year, NOVA will be sharing milestones and innovation from the past 50 years in each newsletter, providing lots of information on the events recognizing the 50th and looking to the future.

Thank you for being a part of our story. Together, we can turn the tide against violence and create a brighter, safer future for all.

50th Anniversary Milestone: The Creation of WOAR

How it all began… 

In March of 1974, Connie Mayers of Langhorne approached Yvonne Kaye, a human services worker with a dream to improve conditions for sexual assault victims in Bucks County. Together, Mayers and Kaye gathered a group of women who, like them, recognized the need for victim advocacy and support for sexual assault victims. Though untrained by today’s standards for social workers and counselors, the women exhibited the insight and dedication that are often at the core of strong grassroots movements. They called their organization Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR).  

The original WOAR sign

From the start, WOAR had the desire to work cooperatively and create partnerships with the agencies designated to handle sexual assault cases. Mayers’ clear arguments about the plight of rape victims and her outline of WOAR’s role in hospital emergency rooms and at police interviews convinced then District Attorney, Kenneth Biehn, to back the group’s efforts, validating their mission and providing them with the support needed to be recognized as a vital piece of the victim response process. 

WOAR’s first efforts changed every stage of a victim’s case in Bucks County including: ensuring victims were notified of WOAR’s services, developing standardized procedures for collecting and maintaining physical evidence, enlisting police and hospital emergency room support, changing how cases were assigned to prosecutors, training law enforcement and hospital personnel about the trauma of sexual assault and the services WOAR provided, and providing victims with accompaniment to emergency rooms and at legal proceedings. 

Fifty years ago, this small group of women charted a course that ensured that victims have the best possible road to recovery and for past 50 years we have continued to followed this course – adding some turns here and there and widening the roads, but one things has always remained the same – ensuring that every victim has the best possible road to recovery.

Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking (BCAT)

Established in 2013, Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking (BCAT) is a NOVA project whose mission is to eradicate human trafficking in Bucks County through victim identification, community education, enhancement of arrests and prosecution of traffickers, legislative advocacy, and a coordinated response of survivor services. Human Trafficking can occur anywhere, and it happens right here in Bucks County. The Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking welcomes all community members to get involved in the mission to end human trafficking. Keep reading for more information about BCAT and how you can get involved this month to help end human trafficking in Bucks County!

Human Trafficking Signs & What to Do if You Suspect

Human Trafficking exists here in Bucks County and can be found in many different settings. Trafficking can occur in legal and legitimate business settings, as well as underground markets. Victims of human trafficking often do not immediately seek help or self-identify as victims of a crime due to a variety of factors, including: lack of trust, self-blame, or specific instructions by the traffickers regarding how to behave when talking to law enforcement or social services. 

Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate someone may be a victim of human trafficking: 

  • Unable to identify current location 

  • Avoidant of eye contact and/or social interactions

  • Not in control of documents / insurance / or ID 

  • No financial recourse, does not have a bank account 

  • Not allowed to speak for themselves  

  • Reluctant to discuss injuries  

  • Poor or unstable living conditions and/or shared sleeping quarters 

  • Has suspicious tattoos or other signs of branding 

  • Signs of malnourishment, poor hygiene & sleep deprivation

  • Signs of untreated injuries, branding, markings/tattoos or scarring

If you suspect you or someone you know may be a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. 

Jamie Pfister, Training Coordinator and BCAT Volunteer

Can you give a brief description of your role with NOVA/BCAT?

Prior to becoming the Training Coordinator, I started volunteering with BCAT. In 2018, BCAT hosted a Human Trafficking Conference. Since I was already doing anti-trafficking work at a different organization, I knew I would benefit greatly from attending the conference. It was after that conference that I knew I wanted to get involved with BCAT and NOVA. I started attending the Community Outreach subcommittee and quickly got involved with BCAT-related events in Bucks County.

How long have you been with NOVA? 

I have been a volunteer with BCAT since 2018. I joined NOVA as a staff member in April of 2021.

What is your favorite part about working/volunteering at NOVA/BCAT?  

My favorite part of being involved with BCAT is reaching folks who may not know anything about the dangers of sex trafficking. There are plenty of people who work in social services and victim services who are aware that human trafficking is a serious public health issue... BUT, its the people in the community who need a better understanding of the risk factors and vulnerabilities. When BCAT hosts an event or movie screening that opens the perspectives of individuals, it really makes supporting BCAT that much easier.

What made you want to volunteer at NOVA/BCAT?

When you hear the stories of survivors, their own personal lived experiences, it really changes how you see the world.

How do you support NOVA/BCAT's mission in your role? 

My role under NOVA's Training Institute is to engage the community and educate individuals about crime prevention. Part of that includes the complex crime of Human Trafficking. The Training Institute has collaborated with BCAT on many community events. Anytime you can engage community members in conversations about sexual exploitation, you ultimately are preventing crime. When community members know and understand the risk factors of human trafficking and who is most vulnerable to victimization, we can be better prepared to stop the violence.

What is one thing people should know about BCAT?

People should know that Human Trafficking is a crime that occurs in all parts of the world, including Bucks County. The young people in our communities need knowledge of healthy and appropriate relationships. When we can teach the next generation the signs and symptoms of sexual exploitation, we can help to eliminate sexual exploitation in our society. THIS is what BCAT and NOVA are striving for. This is what people need to know about BCAT. This is also why people should get involved.

We appreciate your dedication to serving victims of crime!

Wear Blue Day

January 11, 2024

Join us in recognizing the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign on "Wear Blue Day" as the color blue is used to raise awareness of Human Trafficking. Take photos in your blue clothing and share them on Facebook and Instagram. Don't forget to tag BCAT on social media so we can like and share your post.

Smarter Parents, Safer Kids

January 16, 2024

This interactive workshop helps parents learn about healthy sexual development, how to talk to their kids about sexual abuse, and how to keep them safe. The Smart Parents program helps adult caregivers tackle tough conversations with their children, along with empowerment and support. Learn more and register here.

Commissioners’ Meeting

January 17, 2024

For the past 11 years, the Bucks County Commissioners have issued a proclamation to declare January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Bucks County. This year, the Proclamation will be presented at the January 17th meeting. While attendance may be limited, you can view the livestream here.

BCAT Quarterly Meeting

January 24, 2024

Dr. Heather Evans will present “The Voices of Survivors Project.” This project is a platform for survivors of human sex trafficking or other forms of violence to express their lived experiences as survivors through photography. RSVP for the meeting here.

Red Sand Project

January 2024

The Red Sand Project uses sidewalk sand art installations to create opportunities for people to question, connect, and take action against human trafficking and exploitation. Create your own installation on sidewalks near your home, workplace, or community gathering place! You can pick up packets of red sand at NOVA, 2370 York Road, Bldg B-1, Jamison, PA.

A Starlit Evening: 50th Gala

April 19, 2024

On Friday, April 19, NOVA will host A Starlit Evening from 6 pm to 10 pm at a new location: Spring Mill Manor. Enjoy a fun-packed evening as we honor NOVA’s 50th anniversary and all of the staff, volunteers, partners and donors that have made us who we are today, while we raise funds to support our continuum of programs that make NOVA a leader across the region in victim services and violence prevention education.

Learn More & Purchase Tickets

NOVA Merch is Here!

Introducing: NOVA merch! If you want to represent your favorite non-profit in wearable form, we have you covered with a variety options. Whether you're looking for a classic tee, a sweatshirt, or a hat, items are available in multiple colors and designs. Join us in honoring our 50 year milestone by ordering today! Browse the collection here.

Executive Director Penny Ettinger Recognized by the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards

We are excited that NOVA and Executive Director Penny Ettinger were nominated as a finalist for the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards in the category of “Innovations in Human Services." The award recognizes the most passionate changemakers in the region, whose leadership and work guides innovative solutions to the community’s challenges, and provides equitable and inclusive opportunity for all. Winners will be announced later this month. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote!

Holiday Office Closure

The NOVA offices will be closed on Monday, January 15th in observance of the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

NOVA's 24/7 Helpline is always available at 1-800-675-6900.

NOVA Thrift Shop Closure

NOVA Thrift Shop will be closed Sunday, January 21st for their annual holiday party.

Empowering Through Art: Tari Zarka's Decade-Long Partnership with NOVA

Tari Zarka, the founder, owner, and CEO of Aspiring Artist of the Earth (AAOTE), has been a devoted supporter of NOVA since 2007. Her journey with NOVA began at the Galaxy Art Show, evolving into a vital part of NOVA's annual gala and auction. In the past year, Tari has made significant contributions to NOVA, from donating glasswork jewelry to the gala to actively participating in events like Upstander Day. She even created a NOVA-inspired necklace, contributed jewelry to NOVA Thrift, and organized months-long campaigns, donating a portion of her sales. 

When asked about her commitment to NOVA, Tari shared her personal motivation: "As a creative entrepreneur weirdo, I’ve been bullied my entire life, and I know first-hand just how much room society has to learn, grow, and heal. It seems like a no-brainer to support an organization that reaches out to youth and all ages that have been affected by [bullying situations.]" 

Discover Tari's jewelry and art by visiting her online showroom at aaotetz.com or scheduling a visit to her Dublin, PA Gallery. Explore more about and AAOTE's collaboration with NOVA.

The Bucks County Detective Association donated $500 in support of NOVA's vital mission, reflecting the strong partnership between NOVA Advocates and County Detectives.

NOVA representatives joined the planning meeting for 2024's Unity Week, set to unfold in Bensalem from January 14th to January 19th. To learn more about this event, click here.

Representatives of Truist Bank spent a day volunteering at NOVA Thrift Shop. Interested in doing the same? Check out volunteering opportunities at NOVA Thrift Shop here.

Foundations Community Partnership awarded NOVA the Bucks Innovation and Improvement Grant (BIIG) for $10,000, empowering NOVA to collaborate with Bucks County healthcare providers, offering crucial education and training to identify and prevent child abuse.

NOVA's 50th Anniversary Themed Christmas Tree was voted the Festival of Trees second place winner by the public! The last chance to see NOVA's tree in person is January 9th.

The NOVA counselors brought festive joy to the Jamison office with a gingerbread house competition they organized.

The Hand & Stone Spa corporate team paid a visit to NOVA's Jamison office to learn about NOVA services and collaboratively wrap the generous donations they contributed from their holiday donation drive.

"My counselor was amazing and really helped me deal with my traumatic experience and allowed me to see that it wasn't my fault. I am so glad I made the phone call to get help."

- NOVA Client

NOVA employee, volunteer honored by YWCA

NOVA announced that its employee Julie Dugery and volunteer Keira Ruch were honored by the YWCA Bucks County.

Read More

Giuseppe's Pizza of Warminster

Giuseppe’s Pizza & Family Restaurant has been a Warminster institution for 50 years – growing from a small family-owned restaurant in a shopping center, to having their own (larger) building just down the street from their original location, but one thing hasn’t changed in 50 years - their support of their community. 

Giuseppe’s and NOVA formed a friendship more than 5 years ago and Giuseppe’s has become NOVA’s go-to place for our holiday staff luncheon and our volunteer appreciation dinner each year. The staff at Giuseppe’s go above and beyond to make every event special and to make our staff and volunteers feel like family – all while providing a lovely atmosphere and delicious food! 

For the past three years, Giuseppe’s selected NOVA as one of their holiday giving tree recipients and asked their customers to donate items on NOVA’s wish list. Each year we have received over 100 items from Giuseppe’s and their patrons that go directly to NOVA clients or are used in our offices as part of the programs and services we deliver.  

Check out all that Giuseppe’s has to offer here

We are so incredibly grateful to Giuseppe's Pizza and Family Restaurant in Warminster for their continued support of NOVA. Thank you for being a Voice Against Violence and supporting NOVA's work in our community!

Whether you donate an item from NOVA's wish list, funds, or your time, know you are making a difference.

Interested in becoming a KCIT volunteer?

The next training starts in February. Email Donna Walsh at [email protected] for information and stay tuned for more details on the NOVA website.

www.novabucks.org | 24-7 Helpline: 1-800-675-6900

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