#MeToo and Resilience

Us too.

In the wake of the growing publicity and number of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo campaign has taken off on social media platforms. Women (and survivors of all genders) use the hashtag to identify themselves as survivors of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse. Some choose to share their stories, others prefer to post just the hashtag, sometimes including the message that “If all the women who have been sexually harassed, assaulted or abused wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The hashtag has helped open the door to conversations about crimes of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. The #MeToo campaign highlights what we know and see daily at CMC– this violence is not just something that stars and celebrities or people in other communities deal with. This is not a far away problem.

CMC residents screen printed shirts and other fabrics with empowering slogans like the one pictured for Women’s Equality Day 2018. The #MeToo campaign helps break the silence about sexual trauma.

Domestic violence and past sexual traumas are linked to myriad problems in a survivor’s future. ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is a tool that assesses instances of trauma a person may have experienced in childhood in order to help better understand the long-reaching effects that those experiences have on a person. Sexual trauma in a woman’s past specifically put her at a higher risk of obesity, as well as many other potential challenges.

This is close-to-home. This happens in Iowa, in Cedar Rapids. With the rare exception, all CMC residents have been victims of crime, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking/harassment, or financial crimes. The multilayered effects of crime– including mental health and interrelated substance abuse challenges, low self-esteem, social isolation, homelessness, untreated medical conditions, debt and credit damage– can all present significant obstacles to a woman’s sense of stability. Past trauma can impact everything from employment success and housing eligibility to medical needs and capacity to build healthy relationships.

That isn’t the end of the story though– past trauma presents challenges, not total roadblocks. The residents here at CMC– along with women globally– work through those traumatic events and their effects in order to regain stability and discover their own resilience. With consistent support from CMC staff, women in the program are committed to working through the complex and damaging effects of past trauma and rebuild their lives.

We are honored to stand together and work for stability and resilience and equality for people. We echo what staff and residents and friends of CMC are all saying: us too.

CMC connects residents with resources like counseling and support services in order to work through adverse experiences and trauma. If you or a loved one needs immediate assistance, please reach out to the Iowa Help Line to speak with a trained counselor.
Chat: iowacrisischat.org
Phone/text: 
1-855-800-1239

Carly: On Recognizing Domestic Violence

A speech from the Transitional Housing Program’s 2017 Women’s Equality Day Celebration.

The powerful women with domestic violence experiences have only recently learned that domestic violence has come to gain some appropriate attention as a major social problem. However, speaking from personal experiences of my own, there are a lot of negative thoughts and beliefs that were drawn. I myself have recognized the traumatic aspects and chose to re-align my mental and social character to identify my own self-worth.

The aim of this speech is to share positive, effective education to those that don’t have the knowledge. As women we need to build one another up, speak out on our lifelong learning combined with eager approaches that will help others to acquire those coping skills, strategies and self-care, as well as we manage our wellness, boundaries and support services in our everyday lives.

If we don’t stand for something, the trends will never change. Nor shall we allow this to define who we really are today. Let us continue to take a stand and reach out.

Find additional Women’s Equality Day speeches from Ann and Lesa on our blog. 

Ann: On Health and Self-Care

A speech from the Transitional Housing Program’s 2017 Women’s Equality Day Celebration.

Again, thank you for joining us for Women’s Equality Day. I began a journey with the Catherine McAuley Center in February of 2017. It’s been a time of change and growth that centered me on both my mental and physical health.

I was supported by Catherine McAuley Center with a stable, safe, secure environment so I could focus on getting well. I had no idea the real barriers ignoring my mental health created. It took one person, Nat from EIHC (Eastern Iowa Health Center), to make that one phone call which led me to the Catherine McAuley Center.

I was homeless but not considered in immediate need of assistance. My daughter Peyton and best friend Char took turns giving me a bed to sleep in when there were no spots available in the overflow shelter. But really they couldn’t provide for me daily for an indefinite period of time. I had no idea the growth and positive change that would occur just being able to take care of myself.

I began regular visits to all of my healthcare providers including a therapist. Also, Catherine McAuley offers time in a learning environment to focus on our needs. I spent so much time trying to care of other people that I didn’t give any time or care for myself. After just 5 weeks of medicinal compliance, attending my diet with the Diabetes Education Center while being here I showed significant improvement in my health.

It’s important as women that we take the time to nurture our own needs. Be attentive to ourselves because I’m sure you’ve been told before you can’t take care of anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves. This means taking the to time to speak with your primary provider and take time for preventative health care including mammograms and sexual and mental health needs.

There are still some out there who are unaware of the effects of untreated depression. It’s what contributed to my homelessness. Please trust yourself to communicate openly with your healthcare providers. Advocating for yourself is key and can’t be done if you can’t be heard.

Find additional Women’s Equality Day speeches from Carly and Lesa on our blog. 

Lesa: On Being Female and Homeless

A speech from the Transitional Housing Program’s 2017 Women’s Equality Day Celebration.

Imagine ghosts in the darkness, darting into the shadows to avoid being spotted by police driving by.

Imagine when night falls, the daunting realization that you have nowhere to go. There is no place you call home.

Imagine the overwhelming feeling that you belong nowhere.

This is what it feels like to be homeless. In my mind, belonging nowhere meant I was nothing, I was nobody. Insignificant, less than zero.

What would Cedar Rapids be like with no homeless women and children? Imagine a city where domestic violence is an isolated incident, not the norm. Imagine if enough support existed for women to break free of the violence and oppression; break free of the prison that domestic violence is.

Poverty, despair, hopelessness, learned helplessness. These are just a few of the characteristics women experience as they live with an abuse- and leaving frequently means homelessness.

We celebrate women’s equality. The right to walk down the street without being assaulted or threatened. The right to vote. The right to be a homeowner. The right to be your own person. The right to NOT be punched, kicked, slapped, pushed, sexually assaulted or any of the abusive behaviors that take place every day to women among you. Where are they to go?

Women need safe housing, equal pay, medical services, and transportation. Survivors of domestic violence turn to homeless service programs because they lack the economic resources to obtain housing after leaving an abusive relationship. These women need supportive services that can help them heal from the trauma of abuse and improve their financial security and well-being.

Living in darkness and fear causes brokenness and low self-worth to the women who face domestic violence and homelessness. It is baffling and terrifying to escape the clutches of the one who hurts you, yet claims to love you. These toxic relationships damage the victims, heart, soul, mind, and psyche.

We must celebrate women. Embrace their challenges, get involved, reach out. Invest in women. Yes, we have achieved equality in many areas. But there is still lack of shelter, services, and funding in comparison to the need.

Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfill their potential, society as a whole benefits.

Celebrate women, those who are successful, as well as those who are struggling.

Women’s equality means NO MORE FEAR!

Find additional Women’s Equality Day speeches from Ann and Carly on our blog. 

Pronouncing Students’ Names

Student close-up

“A name well-spoken is a simple but meaningful gift we can all extend each other as we nurture an inclusive community at CMC.”

In a community like CMC, where tutors, students, and staff alike come from many different backgrounds and 51 countries, we’re bound to say each other’s names wrong. Yet the impact of a mispronounced name may be more harmful than we believed.

An excellent podcast from the Cult of Pedagogy discusses the unique duty educators have to pronounce students’ names well, especially when they aren’t anglicized. This article is based on the original podcast, which you can listen to here, or find on iTunes.

Jennifer Gonzalez, a National Board Certified teacher, explains in the podcast, “One of the simplest ways we can show respect to our students and show that we are interested in them as individuals… is to make an effort to pronounce their names correctly, or call them what they want to be called.” What happens if we don’t? “Whether you intend to or not,” Gonzalez says, “what you’re communicating is, ‘Your name is different, foreign, and weird. It’s not worth my time to get it right.’”

Oftentimes, students who come from other countries are used to the relentless mispronunciation of their name—at the doctor’s office, at the bank, at the coffee shop—which can serve as a constant reminder that they are considered an outsider. When we, as their friends and teachers, make an effort to say their name correctly, they understand that we care about them and value them. They belong.

A name well-spoken is a simple but meaningful gift we can all extend each other as we nurture an inclusive community at CMC.

Student and tutor

“Every name is an opportunity to cultivate a welcoming community that embraces everyone just as they are.”

How does this look in practice? Gonzalez remembers that the teachers she most appreciated as a student were those who did whatever it took to learn students’ names, even if it meant asking them on multiple occasions, or taking class time to practice. Although this might seem annoying or cumbersome, for her it was evidence that the teacher really cared.

As a tutor at CMC, it’s never too late to improve your pronunciation of your student’s name, even if you’ve worked with them for a long time. They will appreciate it! 

  • Don’t be afraid to admit your error. 
  • Ask them to teach you. Let yourself be the student, and they the teacher.
  • Go online to hear native speakers pronounce the student’s name. Gonzalez recommends Hearnames.com.
  • Make yourself a cheat sheet. Write out a phonetic pronunciation of their name, or draw a diagram linking each syllable to a familiar object. For example, Theotric is pronounced “thee” like movie theater, “AW” like opera, “trick” like trick or treat: “thee-AW-trick.”
  • Don’t give up! Be careful never to impose a nickname on the student because it’s easier for you to pronounce, unless they tell you that’s what they prefer to be called. Believe in your ability to learn their name, and remind yourself that doing so will bear good fruit.

At CMC, we want to extend everyone the dignity of a well-pronounced name. So, we encourage you to correct staff members’ mispronunciations of your name or your student’s name. In doing so, you help us all include and respect one another.

Whatever it takes to learn your student’s name, Gonzalez reminds us, “It is worth the effort to get it right.” Every name is an opportunity to cultivate a welcoming community that embraces everyone just as they are.


By Mari Hunt Wassink, Education Program Coordinator at the Catherine McAuley Center. 

Master Gardeners feature CMC garden

Master gardenerEach of the past two years, the Catherine McAuley Center Gateways Garden has produced over 800 pounds of food from their community garden. This year, they were featured as one of two community gardens in the Linn County Master Gardeners Garden Walk 2017 that was held on July 8. Chelsea DeLarm, Support Services Coordinator at CMC and master gardener, said there were over 200 people who visited the CMC garden that day.

“It was a very long day, but it was an amazing day and the garden was looking beautiful,” said DeLarm.  The garden features food such as cucumbers, squash, green beans, onions and more, and sits on 12 raised 4×8 beds. It even has a pollinator garden with plants that attract Monarchs and other butterflies and bees.

DeLarm stated that the garden shows off all the hard work the women in the CMC transitional housing program have put into it and that the work done in the garden has enhanced the program and become a landmark in the community. “The garden is just this awesome place where people feel really connected to each other, and I hear residents say, ‘I just love being in the dirt,’” said DeLarm.

Upcoming activities for residents include harvesting and preservation projects. The women will get to cook a lot more with the fresh produce from the garden and try different things out.

May Update: Refugee Resettlement

Refugee resettlement is up and running at the Catherine McAuley Center! April brought the arrival of two siblings from Iraq and a young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a Burmese family resettled the first week of May. RefugeeRISE Americorps members, Clark Cunningham-White and Leya Neema, share an update on exciting program milestones and the program’s greatest needs moving forward below.


Welcome hug

After executive orders caused a delay in resettlement, Jacques, a young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was reunited with his aunt at the Eastern Iowa Airport in late April.

We announced the resettlement program in January, but the first arrival wasn’t until April. What caused the delay and what have you and other Resettlement staff been working on in the meantime?

Clark: There was a series of executive orders that limited the ability of USCRI, our parent resettlement agency, to resettle. We weren’t sure when the first arrivals would occur.

Leya: Also we never really know exactly when a new case will arrive until the last minute. USCRI sends us assurance forms, we assure (take responsibility for) them, then when all the checkpoints are ready to go they could come at any time.

Clark: While we were waiting, we decided to plan wrap-around services for existing students and refugees in our community. We surveyed current students about what kinds of services they would be interested in that CMC doesn’t currently offer. We also looked at other organizations to see what other kinds of volunteer roles could support students.

Leya: We were also working on employment, a lot of intakes, helping students with applications, going on job shadows.

 

How many refugees have arrived through CMC’s Resettlement Program so far?

Clark: Six people from three families, and we just got travel notifications this morning for a family of fourteen. That’s a lot of fufu (a staple food in parts of western and central Africa)!

 

What has the past month looked like for these newcomers since arriving in the U.S.?

Welcome handshake

CMC volunteers welcome a mother and her two grown daughters from Burma at the Eastern Iowa airport

Leya: They’re doing well. We have been assisting them in applying for social security cards, medical insurance, and temporary benefits and cash assistance. We’ve taken them to their initial health screening and two of them have already been to see their new family doctor.

Clark: We’ve also assured that they have a stable household or stable apartment to make sure that where they’re living is safe and that they understand different amenities within their living space.

Leya: They’re also enrolling in schools—whether it’s an ESL program for adults or K-12 education for the one minor we’ve worked with.

 

How many more refugees are expected to be resettled by CMC this year?

Leya: Originally we had 29 assured before the family of 14. Out of that we’ve resettled six. The rest of those could arrive at any time.

 

What kinds of physical items are needed for a new refugee family, and why do we have a lot of very specific items on our wishlist? What impact do those donations have?

Clark: USCRI provides us a list of required goods we have to make sure that the family receives. Everything from food and cleaning supplies to furniture is needed.

Leya: Some of these are items seem oddly specific to us, but if we’re giving a family canned goods, they’re certainly going to need a can opener, too. They’re things the family won’t really be used to or know to ask for.

Clark: It’s also really important because if we did not get these items from an in-kind donation, that cost would come from the limited funds for the refugee. You’re lessening the financial burden for the refugee as well through these donations. We’re really grateful for all the donors who have supported this program so far.

Leya: (Looking at wish list) We’re really in need of these items. The family of fourteen will be arriving on May 26th, so the bigger items like beds and dressers are needed now and faster than ever.

Clark: We’ll also need car seats for this family. We haven’t worked with children in these first few cases but a lot of baby items are actually needed now.

 

How can someone get involved to support this program?

Leya: Well, for example, for the family of fourteen, there will be two to three apartments that will need to be set up. So apart from donating all of these wonderful items, we’ll also need help setting up the house.

Most adults we are resettling are employable, so having someone volunteer to be a job coach is needed as well. And for anyone who has a business and is willing to hire a refugee, contact us.

Clark: Yes, we can make suggestions about going through the orientation to make it easier for the employer to have refugees as employees.

Leya: We can always work with the employer–

Clark: –to have a mutually beneficial relationship.

May 3 Arrival


A Note from Kristin, Volunteer Coordinator:

There are many ways to support the resettlement program. As Leya said, there is a need to help get refugees moved into their new homes. We are looking for volunteers to help with everything from heavy lifting of furniture to unpacking boxes!  We also have identified the need for a few new and exciting volunteer opportunities which are listed below.

  • Friendship Exchange: Be a friend to a refugee or immigrant family by sharing meals, celebrating holidays together, or helping with answers to questions as they navigate a new culture.
  • Job Coach: Help create resumes, access employment services, and complete online applications.
  • Interpreter: Offer interpretation services to refugee families who are struggling to connect to resources due to a language barrier.
  • Transportation volunteer: Provide a ride to important appointments and meetings for immigrant and refugee families who don’t have transportation.

Each of these new roles will require attending a two hour orientation and completing a volunteer interview.  Our next orientation will be Thursday, May 18th, at 6pm at the main center located at 866 4th Ave SE.  Interested volunteers can register for this orientation by emailing me at kristin@cmc-cr.org.

The Power of Words

Door opening, welcoming Nervous to take the step into the professional world with an internship required to complete my English degree at Mount Mercy University, I came to the Catherine McAuley Center hoping to be able to use my passion of helping others through writing. Through my internship in the Development and Communications Department at CMC, I have been able to expand my passion for writing in a professional setting. I have also seen firsthand the impact the Center’s programs have on adult learners and women who are overcoming past trauma.

Having a loved one who has participated in other supportive living programs throughout the State of Iowa, the Transitional Housing Program caught my attention right away. The Transitional Housing Program offers a chance of a brighter future for women overcoming trauma, homelessness, and in some cases, substance abuse. The Center provides the women with a safe place to live while they take the necessary steps to overcome their Hand sharing pencils for writingpersonal obstacles, and offers classes for women to take to help build their life skills and to recover from trauma. While meeting with the Housing staff, I learned about a resident writing group that is offered to help the women with their writing skills and aid the recovery process. My own belief in the power of words to transform lives drove me to participate in the group.

In my first visit to the writing group,  I was fortunate enough to witness how the power of words can move women to greatness. To start off the class, we were told to write instructions of how we wake up and get ready for our days. While we began to write our answers, one of the women began talking to me, and in response, another woman whispered with a light in her eyes, “SHH!! This is my favorite time of the week.” The passion in the swift flick of her wrist forming words moved us to silence, and we too began to write.

A few minutes later, the women were asked if they wanted to share what they wrote. After one woman shared, the one who hushed us began to read her passage. Powerfully, she told us how she wakes up every morning, and how she has to overcome her personal obstacles every time her alarm goes off. She told us of her strength and power as a woman with the eloquence of Maya Angelou.Maya Angelou's picture and quote from her poem "And Still I Rise" Through the power of her words, she shared that despite her struggle of waking up with the knowledge of her past overwhelming her—she still thanks God for giving her another day to live, and she counts each day as a blessing. She gave me the strength to wake up every morning believing that life is worth living. Not only did writing help her in her daily struggle, it gave her the time and the tools to inspire others in the room to do the same.

Words are powerful. The writing group is giving these women the stepping stone to strengthen themselves through the empowerment of writing. Just like Maya Angelou wrote, “Up from the past that’s rooted in pain / I rise.”  In just one hour per week, these women are rising up and defeating their limitations through the power of writing.

By Abby Herb, Development and Communications Intern

International Women’s Day

Today, people across the globe will observe International Women’s Day to recognize the achievements of women everywhere. At CMC, we are celebrating International Women’s Day by having conversations with women in our CMC community about what it means to be a woman. This week, and every week, we are so proud of everything these women have accomplished!

What does it mean to be a woman?

 

Yamile (Colombia):  That’s a good question because women have a lot of, you know, meanings. We are just, a human being, but we are so complex… I think we represent a feminism, I don’t know how do you say. Femininidad? Femininity. And that’s a big difference that separate us from men. And to talk in some lovely words, we are full of love to give to other people… I think we are so, in a balance? Mhm, we are just not like, brain. We just do things with your heart and you think at the same time with your mind and your heart at the same time, you know?

Ying Ying (China):  [It’s] God’s gift!

Sahrakef (Somalia):  Without women there was nothing possible, even the God choosed women. Man… he say the man cannot live alone by himself without women. So he choosed it, to bring women there… We are just two parts, so the one powerful part it comes from women. It’s very important. Women they are very important, I’m so glad to be a woman.

Grace (China):  It’s so hard. A lot of burden, and some people, you know, your husband, whenever your husband doesn’t understand you it’s so hard to explain… [you have to] find a balance, you have to devote your time and energy to your family and at the same time to your job.

 

Why are you proud to be a woman?

 

Bahareh (Iran):  You know, I like [that] I’m woman, but, that’s just for me, you know? I like always do all the man do. You know, for example, I learned the business. I like that, you know, I like the hard business. Before I had my business when I was in my country. I always have hard job like all the man do. But, you know, I think so when you woman you can feel everything more, you know? You can love everything. I think so like that. You can love everything more, your kids, you can talk more, more easily.

Maria (Mexico): I’m proud to be a woman because you can give birth to a child, you can take care of your kids, and you can um… I don’t know. Do many things like do your hair, do your nails… I’m proud to be a woman.

Ying-Ying (China):  Yeah, the mom is the first example. A good example for the child… the woman, the mom, is important. Because the dad, always no time to spend with education for the child. So if we are just like, a house woman, it is a big job.

Yamile (Colombia):  Oh, just the fact that you are a woman that should make you proud because, you know, we are, how do you say? Like, how do you say ‘guerrera’ in English? Warrior. Yeah! That’s us! Like going for something and there are women that maybe get frustrated with some things in their lives, but we just have to invite them to be warriors too. To overcome the things. I don’t know, I think it’s just special being a woman you know. Like starting from the body because we are designed to have babies, and that’s so important.

 

Do you have any advice for young girls about being a woman?

 

Maria (Mexico):  Yes. I want to teach her to be proud of herself, to have a career, to study, and be, to be prepared for the future.

Grace (China):  For themselves they should have a moral standard higher than expectation. Because I think that the whole country is going to be decided by the feminine because our job is to bring up the next generation, which is the most important thing. If we don’t do a good job, how can our country grow up? So I think we do the main characteristic in our society, so the girls, the feminine, in general is more important.

Bahareh (Iran):  If somebody has a wish, they just have to go and go for it. You know what’s that mean? They have to just try and do everything they can to reach their wish, you know? They have to. If I was maybe 20 years again, maybe I would, I would do more, you know, for my life. But I did too much, you know? I always work, and I did too much. But, if again, I was younger I would do everything for my… what’s the name? For my target, yeah. Never stop.

 

Do you have anything else you want to say about International Women’s Day?

 

Sahrakef (Somalia): I am just sending a message for the other women who have been suffering about this world… But my message is that this is a part of the life. I’m sending my other women, all my sisters in this world, whoever suffering, I’m just telling them: be strong! Everybody, they gonna have their own day. They will have a better life, and they will have the things is gonna get good and change whatever issue they have. Be strong. We are under God, we are in one world. We will get better life. And God gonna remove all, whatever issue. So I pray for them, and I’m sorry for them. That’s my message. That’s what I’m saying.

 

Happy International Women’s Day from the Catherine McAuley Center!

 

Protecting and Building Communities in Cedar Rapids

Last week at the Cedar Rapids Public Library the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission hosted the event, “Forum on Protecting Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian Communities.” This educational program focused on the definition of “hate crimes,” and included presentations and panels discussing the legislative processes, local resources, and opportunities to assist affected communities.

The Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) consistently works with diverse, and oftentimes marginalized, groups. In 2016 the Adult Basic Education Program alone had 404 students representing 49 countries from around the world. Taking opportunities like this forum to learn how to advocate and protect members of our CMC community aligns with our values– supporting inclusive communities that welcome, respect, and support a diversity of individuals and ideas. Communication and Administrative Intern, Madison Clark, attended the event due to her belief in this tenet, and to share this valuable information with a wider audience!

What is a hate crime?

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Iowa Department of Human Rights, and the Anti-Defamation League of the Plains States Region explained that hate crimes are difficult to prosecute due to their nature. Unlike most other crimes, the prosecutor is expected to prove the motive of the defendants instead of simply proving the crime happened. 

A hate crime can include, but is not limited to:

  • Violent acts enacted on a person, their property, or a place of worship,
  • Threats of violence,
  • Attempts to intimidate or interfere with living
  • Obstruction of free exercise
  • Conspiracy against rights
  • Trespassing

Hate crimes are not common in Iowa, and are especially uncommon within the Cedar Rapids community. Knowing the scope of potential issues will simply help community members continue to protect the individual rights of everyone who call Cedar Rapids their home.

When and to whom should concerns be reported?

According to the law enforcement panel, hate crimes go tremendously under-reported. This means that the current data being worked from is not covering the full scope of issues being faced by marginalized communities. With this in mind, the representatives made it overwhelmingly clear that individuals should report any concerns to their local law enforcement, even if it’s only a suspicion, and that they should be reported right away.

The panel explained that the possibility of something being a hate crime, regardless of whether or not it’s prosecuted that way, is always noted. This is so future incidents might have better evidence behind them that could enable victims receive justice. Basically, if it looks and feels like a hate crime, law enforcement will respond to it as such.

If there’s been an incident that could potentially be a hate crime, call the non-emergency number, or 911, depending on the urgency of the situation.

How can we address the growing tensions?

The community panel, including representatives from the Eastern Iowa Islam, Sikh, and Hindu communities, followed the law enforcement panel. This group spent time discussing how recent political tensions have increased the threat of hate crimes towards their communities, as well as what others might be able to do to help.

Overwhelmingly, the community members agreed that what would have the greatest effect would be getting the Cedar Rapids community involved in education sessions about each group. They felt that educating and increasing community awareness would lead to a more enriched community through diversity and new perspectives. Each group’s community center offers trainings, tours, and will welcome anyone interested in learning more. They also expressed a willingness to collaborate with other community groups, businesses, or schools on events ranging from volunteering to positive media campaigns supporting diversity.

When a crime motivated by bias occurs, it reverberates throughout all communities. This forum aimed to say, “You are not alone,” to the people of many diverse perspectives and practices who call Cedar Rapids their home. Many groups have started to see a rise in threats and tensions over the last few years, and it’s the responsibility of Cedar Rapids residents to create a safe and inviting community for everyone. CMC aims to supports this effort, and believes everyone has, and should continue to have, the potential to create and live a purposeful and fulfilling life.