woman in pink
October 2010
GranteeGrantee Highlights

Tengo Voz Base (I Have A Voice Collective)
by Mandy Junman Huang

Tengo Voz (I Have a Voice) received a grant from Mary's Pence in June 2010. Mandy was an intern at Mary's Pence this summer. Mandy is from Mainland China, and is a student at Hong Kong University.  She was studying at the City University of New York. The following essay is based on discussion with Rev. Rincon, the Executive Director of Tengo Voz.

Tengo Voz (I Have a Voice) was formed in 2004 and supports Latino women through use of the arts, spirituality and education. They applied for a grant because their vision of empowering women to change their lives was reflected in Mary's Pence grant criteria, including the understanding that organizations will grow and change over time.  Currently Tengo Voz is transitioning leadership to the women of the Latina community.

Tengo Voz members and family
Tengo Voz
The Tengo Voz
Base Project was initiated from a desire to truly empower women and cultivate their leadership potential. The organization's direction is determined by the women themselves in response to their assessment of their personal needs as well as the needs of their community.

There are many stories about how Tengo Voz Base has impacted women. Over the years, Tengo Voz has answered hundreds of calls from women in crisis.They offer the practical assessment of the situation while at the same time delving deeply into the spiritual crisis of these women who had been subject to years of oppression. Although the women seemed voiceless, one could still see that their ability to persevere meant that they were leaders that simply needed encouragement and support in order to realize the potential of their strength and creativity.
Recently, a woman called one of our advocates and explained how she had been living in a domestic violence situation for years but that lately it was worse, and he was hitting her more often. Within hours, the advocate called another advocate and they scheduled a time to meet with the woman needing intervention. They created a plan including immediate safety action, housing, an immigration lawyer, as well as medical and emotional support. It took less than a week for them to find the woman a fully furnished apartment. Soon, they sat in her new home as she cried and gave thanks for all the support, saying that now she understood the work of Tengo Voz. She offered that as her life improved she would like to learn and acquire the skills for helping other women find their voice and liberation. There are many stories like this one and as the community grows the work of Tengo Voz must also be expanded.

The beauty of this work is that it creates a collective of advocates who can also be there for one another in many aspects of their lives, not just in the work of Tengo Voz.

Tengo Voz group session
Tengo Voz2
Another example of impact: Some years ago, Tengo Voz offered an art workshop in which the women made molds of their faces. They were then asked to share how wearing the mask and or taking the mask off made them feel. The responses were amazing; they mostly wanted to remove the mask, to feel liberated and no longer hide who they were, and to feel that they could be included in their communities. In some cases, the women gave voice to years of abuse and unspoken struggles. They shared how they felt and what resources they did or didn't have to help them in their struggle. The group dynamics also provided them with the knowledge that they were not alone in their situations.

Assisting women with urgent unmet needs in the Latino Community is not an easy thing, with the deconstruction of systemic barriers and the fight against oppression posing the biggest problems. Most of the women who seek help from Tengo Voz know that something isn't right in their lives, but are not always able to define the problem or do not possess the resources to create needed changes in their lives. This is why the work of Tengo Voz is so essential. The hardest part of the work is that there currently are not enough advocates to service a rapidly growing Hispanic community. Tengo Voz is still a grassroots organization.

The grant from Mary's Pence has helped Tengo Voz to develop Spanish language protocols for accessing services in areas ranging from immigration, health care, domestic violence and employment, all supported with ongoing leadership training for Base women and cultural brokering for the mainstream community (especially those organizations delivering services to our clients). This is a major step in handing the tools of advocacy to the women of Base. The process of developing these protocols and trainings will in itself be a model of self-empowerment, because each step of the process will be defined and determined by the women themselves, in response to their understanding of their needs. Once the protocols are in place and the trainings completed, we will have successfully created a team of advocates that are skilled, resourced, and ready to serve the wider community. Each woman who is served by these advocates is another potential advocate herself.

Learn more about Tengo Voz at: http://www.tengolavoz.org/

IssuesIssues of Justice

Living Nonviolence
Hildegard Goss-MayrHildegard Goss-Mayr lived peace, taught nonviolence in war torn countries, and was present during the formation of some of the great nonviolent movements in recent history. Her first stance against violence and evil was in 1942, when as a school girl she refused to salute the Nazi in Vienna after it was taken by the Third Reich. In the 60's she was part of a peace lobby involved in Vatican II Council along with Dorothy Day and others.  She worked in the 60's and 70's in Latin America, providing a biblical and philosophical basis for nonviolence resistance, supporting Firmeza Permanente- relentless persistence. In the 80's her teachings led to the People Power Revolution in the Philippines. She's worked in Eastern Europe and Africa, and is active in interfaith peace movements including Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Promotion of Peace is one of the 10 themes of Catholic Social Justice.  Hildegard Goss-Mayr lived this message fully.  You can read more about Catholic Social Teaching at http://www.osjspm.org/catholic_social_teaching.aspx

You can read more about Hildegard's life in the book Marked for Life: The Story of Hildegard Goss-Mayr by Richard Deats, published by www.newcitypress.com

ActionAction For Mary's Pence
Giving Tree During Advent

Christmas TreeIf your faith community has a Giving Tree during the Advent season please include Mary's Pence. By including Mary's Pence you will:

* Sustain women's groups working to change the world

* Increase women's voice and economic well being

* Support women in the U.S., Latin America and the  Caribbean

* Provide a focus on social justice, a balance to charity

* Change the world for the better, for the long term.

It's a great way to spread the word about Mary's Pence and get others involved.
Contact us at 718-720-8040 or inbox@maryspence.org and we will provide talking points and written materials to use to approach your faith community, educational materials for individuals, and colorful tags to 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.

Top of page
Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
Living Nonviolence

Action For Mary's Pence

Reflection: Faith

PrayerfulPrayerful Reflection



To know without proof
The deepest knowing
That God is here
And all is and will be
Right with the world
In the face of pain
And fear and failure
Trauma, trials and tests
To go beyond what can be seen
And felt with senses all
Too primitive
To see with the soul
With the clearest sight of all
That God is within
And God always knows what's best
To know what God gives
Is always what we need
No more, no less
Perfect balance
Perfect sorrow, perfect joy
To still the voices inside
That scream and push and fight and rush
To sit very still and quiet
Open, empty and serene
To be filled to the brim
With deep soul knowing
That within,
You have found you perfect peace

-by Nicole Wright, a Mary's Pence staff member, from Soulsearcher: A Poet's Journey, published by AuthorHouse, 2005

Photo by Justine Cudel

Join Our Mailing List

Mary's Pence
 Contact us: (718) 720-8040