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My name is Paula Gooch and I am honored to serve on the Gems Uncovered Board. Ten years ago, I started serving foster youth through a ministry at the church I attend, and had a very transformative experience. God used my involvement in that ministry to grow my heart and passion for serving those who have been victimized.

After serving foster youth for a few years, God awakened me to the reality of the enormity of the issue of human trafficking worldwide, including the United States. I came to realize that foster youth are highly at-risk to become victims of trafficking as well. I completed both my undergrad and graduate degrees in the field of criminal justice and chose to focus a lot of my academic assignments on the area of human trafficking.

In the meantime, I continued to pray for an opportunity to first-hand serve trafficking victims. Although mentoring foster youth, as I was doing, can be part of prevention efforts to help protect youth from becoming trafficking victims, I also wanted to serve those who had been trafficked. I attended numerous events in the anti-trafficking field, and after many months of searching for a way to serve, I was finally introduced to Gems Uncovered and was informed of the serving opportunity through the Street Outreach Team.

I was excited for the ability to serve, and participated in Street Outreach for the first time in fall 2019 and have been serving ever since. I truly believe Gems Uncovered is making a difference in our community for those who have experience trafficking and I am excited to expand my involvement in this organization by serving on the board. I look forward to watch the Lord continue to use me and the passion He has given me to love and serve His precious gems.