woman in pink

February 2011

GranteeGrantee Highlights


LifeWay Network   

by Faith Goodwin 


human traffickingHuman trafficking is a phrase Americans associate with third-world countries and straw huts. Few realize that the backstreets of America's largest cities have also become major centers for civil rights violations. In a 2010 report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited thousands of modern-day slaves in the United States. Most of these victims are women and children.


Slavery is an issue many presume to have died in the days of the Civil War. The emancipation of women found victory in the 19th Amendment of the 1920's and again in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But despite the enlightenment of our modern age, slavery has reared its head again in the unseen and unacknowledged realm of human trafficking.


LifeWay Network in New York City fights to combat human trafficking through emergency safe housing and education of the general public on the reality of human trafficking in America's major cities.  Founded in 2007 by Sister Joan Dawber, LifeWay Network collaborates with thirty religious congregations to provide information on the signs of trafficking to bring the problem into the open.  "We encourage people to be observant, to be aware," said Sr. Geraldine Kennedy, a spokeswoman of the group. A primary danger of trafficking is a lack of understanding of the problem, which allows activities and perpetrators to operate unobserved. By making people aware of the horrors involved, LifeWay Network works to curb trafficking in the U.S.


Sr. Geraldine Kennedy and Sr. Joan Dawber

Human traffickers target vulnerable women and children, who become trapped in a cycle of chronic abuse. Much like indenturement of the 18th

century, women from impoverished countries are lured by false promises of a better life in the United States.Once in the grasp of traffickers, however, promised wages never materialize, and forced labor accompanies mental and physical trauma. Victims are thrust into service in sweatshops, salons, restaurants, and sex industries. The psychological damage women endure under forced prostitution is severe, and their traffickers perpetuate their captivity through coercion, abuse, and threats to their family. "They're afraid to leave their captivity," Sr. Geraldine explained.


Therefore, in addition to its educational programs, LifeWay Network strives to provide women the emotional support and physical security they need to escape captivity.  LifeWay offers emergency housing and collaborates with social service agencies to provide services and legal assistance to victims. Frequently, Sr. Geraldine explained, women lack basic skills necessary to operate in society, such as using a cell phone, riding the subway, or even understanding English. LifeWay and its partners give women access to training for survival and employment in an unfamiliar culture.


Although the situation seems bleak for victims of human trafficking, LifeWay strives for a better future for them.  LifeWay, in collaboration with others, successfully advocated for the passage of effective trafficking laws in New York State that protect the rights of innocent victims and prosecute the perpetrators.  It has partnered with numerous organizations including Catholic Charities and the Coalition of Catholic Organizations against Human Trafficking.


LifeWay Network is pleased to have joined with Mary's Pence in its mission for advocacy and education.  In 2010, Mary's Pence approved a grant to support LifeWay's educational programs. "We sponsor workshops and presentations, which require resources, books, brochures, DVD's," Sr. Geraldine said.  On March 26, she continued, LifeWay Network, in collaboration with the Coalition of Religious Congregations and Fordham University, will sponsor a full-day presentation called Human Trafficking of Young Women, from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM at Fordham University.  Information on the presentation can also be found at www.LifeWayNetwork.org.


The most important thing people can do is to be aware and be involved; and, LifeWay Network encourages this awareness and involvement through its education programs. "If you see something, do something - say something," Sr. Geraldine advises.  Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) 1-888-3737-888.


Faith Goodwin lives in Missouri, where she works for Conception Abbey.  As a strong believer in women's participation, she volunteers with community groups and sometimes writes articles for the local newspaper.  She has enjoyed writing since childhood and is currently pursuing her degree in English.


IssuesIssues of Justice  

They can argue with anger, but not with grief.

Women In Black Vigil, sponsored by WHEEL and Church of Mary Magdalene, Seattle, Washington  

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Four hundred times in the last 11 years homeless women and their supporters have gathered and stood in silence in remembrance of the death of a homeless person who died outside or by violence of any kind in their county.


When the group learns of a death they stand the following Wednesday, for one hour during lunchtime. They stand outside the Seattle Municipal Courthouse, across the street from and facing Seattle City Hall. Supporters distribute leaflets about the purpose of the vigil, and identify actions individuals can take to support the homeless community.


The first time they stood was in June 2000, when they stood in vigil for a woman named Debbie Cashio, whose body was found near the freeway there. It was a suspected homicide but a suspect was not apprehended or charged until five years later.


The women are standing in heart breaking increasing frequency over the years. This is the only Woman In Black vigil in the country that focuses on the issue of homelessness by homeless women.


WHEEL was a Mary's Pence grantee in 2010, is a non-profit and non-hierarchical group of homeless and formerly homeless women working to end homelessness for women. Recently WHEEL participated in a networking call with several other Mary's Pence grantees working with homeless people, to share learnings and resources, and provide mutual support.  They shared this example of their work.


Belief in the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all Catholic social teaching. Women In Black live this value. Human life is sacred, and the dignity of the human person is the starting point for a moral vision for society. This principle is grounded in the idea that the person is made in the image of God. The person is the clearest reflection of God among us. Dignity of the Person is one of the 10 themes of Catholic Social Teaching.


ActionAction For Mary's Pence   


Lenten Soup Supper: Standing in Solidarity with Women of Latin America  


Many faith communities gather at this time of year, to share a simple meal, and focus on prayer and reflection. Mary's Pence has created a packet so you can easily organize a gathering in your home or with your faith community. The program includes a short program highlighting ESPERA Funds as a way of improving women's lives, and a prayerful reflection highlighting women who have made a positive difference for women and communities in Latin America. The packet includes a short video, prayers, discussion guidelines, and soup recipes from Latin America. Email us at inbox@maryspence.org or call the office at 718-720-8040 and we'll get you started.


Lent begins March 9 this year, April 24th is Easter.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you!

100th Anniversary of International Women's Day - March 8, 2011

Tell us about a woman who has had a positive impact on the economic, political or social well-being of women.  We will publish names and brief descriptions in our eNews for March. The woman you bring forth doesn't have to be well known, just beloved by you and a positive force for social justice for women and families.


Email us and include the following:

   Your name and contact information.

   The woman's name and a brief description of her accomplishments. Please include where she is from or where she did her work.

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Love it or hate it!  If you are a facebook user go to the Mary's Pence page and join us by indicating you "like" Mary's Pence.  Write on our wall and tell us you're a supporter, and share with others why you like Mary's Pence. About 2-4 times a month we post an interesting note about something happening in the world or a link to an article.  Share us with your "friends!" We love to see supporters comment on articles and share their thoughts.


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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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"Real friends are simply there for us, no matter the pressure, no matter the pain."

- Joan Chittister, from The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible published by Blue Bridge/Benetvision



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