The Armory Art Center hosted the Art of the Phoenix Luncheon at Club Colette in Palm Beach in March, 2017. This luncheon, the first of its kind, benefits the Armory’s art healing program for sex trafficked teens.

The Art of the Phoenix program was created in partnership with the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches. Furthermore, this program provides a safe space for victims of trafficking between ages 12-17 to express themselves through art. Additionally, the program helps them overcome their trauma through the creation of art guided by a certified art therapist.

Among the attendees were Linda Silpe, Jan Willinger, Robert Siegel, David Veselsky and Ken Elias, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, Mary Montgomery, Ann and Doug Brown, Fiona Tan, Steve Hartman, Susan Keenan, Vicki Kellogg, Barbara Golden, Mary Alice Pappas, Carol Ruhlman, Cynthia Hochman, Dusty Doge, Nancy Maio, and Marsha and Steve Rabb. Not only was the Luncheon educational, it was also inspiring. According to Chairwoman Jan Willinger, “The Luncheon bought to light the terrors of sex trafficked children, and how important rehabilitation is for them. The Armory’s Art of the Phoenix program allows them to articulate their stories and fears and to begin the journey back to a normal life.”

Another speaker, Congresswoman Lois Frankel cited statistics reflecting the seriousness of the human trafficking epidemic. Featured speaker, Bonnie Jo Daniels, Project Director for Hope for Freedom, spoke about the program. Bonni Jo told a story illustrating the grooming process by which traffickers gain the trust of victims. She quoted a trafficker, “If you promise them heaven, they will follow you to hell.”

Although the Armory’s mission is serving as an art school and exhibition gallery, the Luncheon highlighted how through art therapy the Armory is able to provide additional service to the community.