WHEEL's Women's Empowerment Center:
A Place Where Their Say and Their Voices Count
by Janice Connelly
Women's Housing Equality, and Enhancement League (WHEEL) received a grant from Mary's Pence in June 2010. Janice Connelly is a woman served by WHEEL.
Janice ConnellyMy name is Janice Connelly; I am a formerly homeless individual, an artist, advocate and volunteer. I was homeless for 14 months. I've been a participant of Women's Housing Equality, and Enhancement League (WHEEL) for five years. It has been a tremendous opportunity for me to grow personally and professionally. I gained a broader perspective on grass-roots political organizing, in dealing with various policymakers in Seattle and King County. You are forced to take a big-picture view of WHEEL's efforts of homeless women dedicated to meeting survival need and developing shelter, housing, services, dignity and power for our community.
Prior to homelessness, I worked 24 years in the Rail Freight industry which is a male dominated field. I was unused to being in the company of women. For me being around women was different because I was used to communicating with men.
I think the area that WHEEL's Women's Empowerment Center (WEC) changed me the most was in my interpersonal skills and communicating with women. They sweetened me up, made me reframe my pattern of speech and made me compassionate and gentler. I was used to speaking my mind and telling people what to do, rather than working with them or asking them to cooperate.
Janice (center) working with members of WHEELThe Women's Empowerment Center is our self-managed day organizing, education, and arts center, located in a downtown women's shelter space offering writing workshops, jewelry making, arts and crafts, laughter workshops, health talks, open mike to read what you've written or someone else's who you admire. Working with WHEEL and being an Executive Committee Member of the WEC has been a wonderful opportunity and training ground for me to become an effective communicator, work to attract, motivate, and train, new executive committee members. I learned the following skills: teamwork, facilitating, recruiting, public speaking, grantwriting, negotiating, mentoring, fundraising, lobbying, and the power of direct action.
I have to say that the most rewarding part of my involvement in WHEEL's efforts is witnessing women come to our Empowerment Center and realize their value, voice and contributions, where their say and votes count. When women are given the opportunity to discover their God-given talents and abilities, they can't help but to be empowered. It is an amazing, and powerful experience.
My many and varied newly acquired interpersonal skills are proving invaluable to me in aiding in my job searches working for non-profit organizations who serve homeless and formerly homeless and low-income populations. WHEEL's many projects and my participation in the Women's Empowerment Center have equipped me with all the qualifications required to serve our beloved community.
Learn more about WHEEL's collaborative efforts with SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Efforts) at: www.sharewheel.org
Issues of Justice
A Well Kept Secret
by Katherine Wojtan, Executive Director of Mary's Pence
As I've traveled across the country and talked to prospective donors I introduce the concepts of social justice and Catholic social teaching. I'm always amazed at how many people are unaware of these essential elements of our faith.
Catholic Social teaching is based upon the body of social principles and moral teaching that is articulated in the papal, conciliar and other official documents issued since the late nineteenth century. Key components include:
Community and the Common Good
Rights and Responsibilities, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Participation, Dignity of Work/Rights of Workers
Stewardship of Creation
Constructive Role of Government
Promotion of Peace
You can find more about Catholic Social Teaching at a variety of Catholic sites, including:
|Action For Mary's Pence|
"Sharing the Message: Catholic Women and Social Justice"
Sunday October, 24, 2010
1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Carondelet Center, University of St. Catherine's
1890 Randolph, St. Paul, 55105
A gathering and reception sponsored by Mary's Pence. Sr. Amata Miller IHM will be speaking. She is an Economics professor and Myser Catholic Identity Chair Professor at the University of St. Catherine's. In 1987 Sr. Amata Miller was on the founding board of Mary's Pence. RSVP to 718-720-8040, or Nicole@maryspence.org.
Mary's Pence Giving Circles
Relationships are our greatest asset, and Mary's Pence is asking you to share yours with us. We invite you to host a Mary's Pence Giving Circle! We supply:
*** an agenda and talking points
*** a 6 minute DVD telling the story of Concertacion de Mujeres de Suchitoto (ESPERA Fund in El Salvador)
*** handouts that summarize the work of Mary's Pence.
You invite friends, and provide a location and light refreshments. And of course encourage your friends to support Mary's Pence. So far this year 21 Giving Circles have been held. We have a goal of hosting 52 circles this year, this will introduce 500 or more new people to Mary's Pence! Can we count on you?
Many parishes sponsor a Giving Tree during the Advent season. We encourage you to ask your faith community to include Mary's Pence. It's a great way to spread the word about Mary's Pence and get others involved. By including Mary's Pence you:
*** Sustain women's groups in the U.S. working to increase women's voice and economic well being
*** Support our sisters in Latin American countries working to improve their lives, and the lives of their families
*** Provide a focus on social justice, changing the world for the better, for the long term.Contact us at 718-720-8040 or inbox@maryspence and we will provide materials to use to approach your faith community, educational materials for individuals, and colorful tags to your display on your tree.
Mary's Pence - Who Are We?
We are a small organization with a big vision. We want women in the Americas living in poverty to have a say and a hand in how poverty can be alleviated and social equity achieved. Therefore we invest in local women who are creating models to increase women's economic status and improve their status in their community. We look for models that foster women working together, to learn from each other, support each other, and explore new ideas. We fund women in North, Central and South America.
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Catholic Social Teaching on Charity and Justice
The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largess but an inescapable duty for the whole of society.
Economic Justice for All Pastoral Letter on Catholic
Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986, A Pastoral Message
Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights of one's neighbor. Justice attains its inner fullness only in love. Because every person is truly a visible image of the invisible God and a sibling of Christ, the Christian finds in every person God himself and God's absolute demand for justice and love.
No one may claim the name of Christian and be comfortable in the face of hunger, homelessness, insecurity, and injustice found in this country and the world. Economic Justice for All,
Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy