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PEOPLE : She Helps Women Help Themselves

April 12, 1993

Jerri Rodewald, a bespectacled 55-year-old grandmother, sits in the Reseda home that houses six former prostitutes who are reshaping their lives. Rodewald is deeply sympathetic. "Every woman we work with here is a victim of child abuse. Most are beaten and probably 90% to 95% are sexually molested," she says of the clients of the Mary Magdalene Project, where she has served as head of the board of directors for four years and as executive director for seven.

"I think prostitutes are the most ignored community of women because people think they can just walk away from it, and that's not true," Rodwald says. "There are no skills to do anything else and no self-esteem."

Almost all of the 125 women who have completed the project have been successful, and about 115 have mainstream jobs. Local Hero, E3

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