I am Addie Gerlach. I am wife to Bill and mother of five precious children. I homeschool and work as Kids Ministry Director at my church.
I am doing a project for Peoria Home for the year 2019—wearing a dress every day. The purpose of this project is to raise awareness and funds for Peoria Home. Wearing a dress is unusual in our culture—the culture of jeans and leggings. Wearing a dress implies a reason (in my opinion), a special occasion. Wearing a dress is out-of-the-ordinary. I was inspired to wear a dress for a cause by the Dressember campaign, in which one wears a dress for the entire month of December, as a fundraiser for International Justice Mission. My mind took the challenge to another level, extending the challenge to 365 days and focused the support for Peoria Home exclusively.
In October 2018 I shared the project via my blog: www.thegoodlogger.com and asked for pledges beginning January 1, 2019 for an amount-per-day gift to Peoria Home–$1, $2, $3. Many people pledged, and more giving one-time gifts during the project totaling about $11,000—about $32 per day. Each day I wear a dress or skirt, I am earning $32 for Peoria Home.
God, or my mind, gave me a number goal: $36,000. I wasn’t sure if the answer to my silent prayer would be yes or no, but the direction would be: do the project, no matter the reward.
I was prepared to receive zero dollars per day. It would be worth it to persevere for free. But it has been a great honor to advocate for Peoria Home and procure funds for such a worthy project. In the process I have learned many things about myself and about the experience of a woman survivor from trafficking, addiction, and prostitution. Mainly, empathy in the daily struggles of life. Wearing a dress everyday has painted normal things in a new light such as: riding a bike, swimming with my family, going camping. Doing all these things while carrying the weight of wearing a dress as given me insight into a woman survivor’s perspective on managing life’s demand’s while managing their recovery from exploitation and potential addiction.
I love this project because it is a way to help the cause by changing minds. In my experience, the general population can disconnect from such individuals who have the experience of trafficking and prostitution because “they chose it” or “they deserve it.” NO. Women and men affected by prostitution are our sisters and brothers. We can help in many ways, not just with our time, but with our attention and money.
Clothed in Dignity has allowed me to be a force for change while tending to my responsibilities as a wife and mother.