Today we are honored to be interviewing Nayeli May, Executive Director of Journey Out, a PLANNET nonprofit client. Nayeli manages the Executive team and Board of Directors while overseeing operations, focusing on budget, generating additional funding, procuring new donors, and creating outreach.

Originally called The Mary Magdalen Project, Journey Out was founded in Los Angeles in 1980 as a refuge to victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Los Angeles is an epicenter in America for human trafficking and sexual slavery, as identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While Journey Out is based in Los Angeles, they provide resources and refuge to victims across the USA. “While many of our clients consider LA home, we have clients from all over the country and globe ,” states Executive Director Nayeli May. Journey Out provides many resources to people “in the life” of exploitation and at any stage of their journey.

Journey Out Class

Q: Who does your organization serve?     

NM: We serve all adult survivors and victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Victims receive services that acknowledge their specific needs and gender identity. We work with people no matter where they are on their journey. They can come to us for an emergency crisis with nothing, seeking help to get out; this is considered a crisis level client. We offer them emergency shelter or help them find other means to escape. We give them resources such as mental health counseling or even getting an ID for the first time; this is what we call case management. We meet our clients’ needs, whatever they may be, even helping to create a resume or prepare for a job interview. Sometimes clients are from different states, and we can help them get back home by getting them plane tickets, resources, etc. Some victims stay with us long term, and we provide shelter. Overall, Journey Out is a comprehensive organization that keeps the doors open for anyone that needs help. Journey Out has a stellar reputation in the community because half of the staff has directly or indirectly experienced the sexual exploitation and trauma that our clients are going through, so they can genuinely relate.

Q: What kind of services does your organization provide?

NM: We provide job training, links to legal resources, physical resources, mental health, rental assistance, clothing, food, education, work assistance, and we also work closely with vocational programs. It varies, but when it comes to physical resources, we provide everything we can for them. We teach financial literacy and an array of life skills. We have computers on site that they can use for learning and job search.

Women’s Group Sessions

Q: Why is Journey Out in need of PLANNET’s managed services?

NM: Most nonprofits and small businesses do not have a significant investment or in-house knowledge of IT infrastructure. We do very serious work, and I want to ensure my team has every resource available to aid our clients. We need to ensure everything is highly accessible to case managers who travel. We need resources around the clock, so email is something we rely on and that is essential to us. We need to have the right equipment to do a great job. Many nonprofits learned they had to rely on technology during COVID and make sure they were ready to work remotely. Our doors never closed during the pandemic. To keep the quality of services up, we need top-notch technology and support, which PLANNET is helping to provide.

Q: In what ways will the added/optimized technical support be able to help your organization?

NM: By having optimized support, Journey Out can focus on the mission, allowing us to grow. As we expand, our technological needs must expand with us. We serve a huge group of people around the clock, and our staff needs to be supported. We need experts like PLANNET to help support us.

Q: What attributes make Journey Out a unique nonprofit?

NM: We meet victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation wherever they are in their journey. From hands on street outreach and crisis response to therapy, group classes and even rehabilitation, we provide services that uniquely meet each individual’s needs. We work with any adult experiencing commercial sexual exploitation, regardless of their gender identification. Half of our staff are survivors of traumas associated with commercial sexual exploitation. Half our staff is also Spanish speaking, so we can communicate with our clients. We are one of the larger organizations in Los Angeles, and therefore we are the experts in helping people get out of human trafficking situations. Additionally, we have a crisis response team available after hours that conducts street outreach to people directly in the Life and works hand in hand with law enforcement to provide immediate care.

Journey Out Supports All Victims of Sex Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation

Q: What are Journey Out’s immediate needs?

NM: We need people to know how much of a crisis human trafficking is and how prolific it is in the United States. Many in the US think that human trafficking is a problem in other countries, but the truth is, it is happening at an alarming rate here in the United States, even in suburban areas that you would never suspect. Because many people are not aware of the issue and what it looks like, they are not fully aware of the magnitude of the crisis. Ultimately, we need to get rid of the stereotypes. This plague touches all of us, and unfortunately, it is happening here to men, women, and children far more than people know.

Also, one of the hardest things as a nonprofit is to raise money for infrastructure like IT, yet it is vital to us and other nonprofits. Aside from the mission, we are still a business and need the resources to meet the needs of our staff to serve our clients better.

As the holidays approach, please consider donating to Journey Out’s Covid Relief fund here: