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Meet Sarah, 2019 Heart of Her winner

A mother’s hope is that she instills strength, passion and kindness in her children. Virginia Director Sarah Caterina has taken that one step further by also becoming a mentor who empowers the young women in her community through her work with Help Save the Next Girl.

Educating and empowering young women

The Virginia-based nonprofit Help Save the Next Girl began in 2009 after the abduction and murder of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harris. Morgan’s mother created Help Save the Next Girl because she wanted to save the next girl from this kind of horrific event. The organization is dedicated to educating young women about predatory behaviour, promoting personal safety and finding missing children across America.

Sarah’s journey with Help Save the Next Girl began last year, when she partnered with her 14-year-old daughter, Zoe, to begin a chapter at her school. Sarah is currently a mentor to three Help Save The Girl clubs in her area and has had a hand in the creation of several other local chapters.

The chapter Sarah created with her daughter is the largest in the nation. She says working alongside her daughter has been the most rewarding part of the experience.

“Through this journey, I have been able to guide my daughter to find her voice and appreciation for diversity and leadership skills. I am proud to be raising a strong, brave, kind young woman,” Sarah says.

The clubs engage in their community by donating to domestic violence shelters, marching in parades and participating in other activities that spread the organization’s message of empowerment and personal safety.

Sarah prides herself in creating a “diverse girl tribe culture” within her clubs, where the girls feel they have each other’s backs.

“We have athletes, girls in drama club, cheerleaders, book worms and everything in between! We focus on empowering positive self-esteem and encouraging each other,” Sarah says. “I am hoping the lessons the girls learn while being part of Help Save the Next Girl will help keep them safe as they grow into strong, independent, courageous woman who support other women.”

She hopes to raise girls’ awareness about issues such as mental health, substance abuse and human trafficking, working with local law enforcement to teach them self-defense techniques.

“As a mother and a friend, the work that Sarah puts into making sure that she makes an impact with girls empowering themselves and each other is inspiring,” says Nichole Inthanongsak, Sarah’s friend and fellow Thirty-One Consultant.

A life of service

Along with her work with Help Save the Next Girl, Sarah has been a social worker for 20 years. She left her own practice in New York to take a position in Virginia, where she currently serves as a social worker for seven schools in the area.

Sarah’s commitment to empowering and inspiring others knows no borders, as she has spread her message through mission trips to the Dominican Republic and Africa.

“She lives out our values not only in her Thirty-One life and with her family, but also in her other career and in life in general,” says friend and fellow Thirty-One Consultant Melanie Potter. “She sees needs and she is determined to find a way to help. It is woven into the very fiber of her being!”

To Sarah, giving back means giving from your heart to your community without expecting anything in return.

“I want the girls in my community to know that they matter and that their beliefs and values are important,” she says. “I want them to know that they are beautiful inside and out. I want them to feel like they are part of something greater.”

We’re excited to honour Sarah with the 2019 Heart of Her Award because of her commitment to her community and passion for uplifting young women. Thirty-One Gives will donate $10,000 to Help Save the Next Girl in Sarah’s honour to continue this amazing organization’s work to encourage and educate young women throughout the United States.