Each August, residents of the Catherine McAuley Center’s Transitional Housing Program, past and present, have welcomed the community to the Center’s lawn for a celebration of Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in August of 1920.
Rain or shine, event guests can be seen chatting over lunch catered by a woman-owned business, picking out their favorite inspirational message to have silk-screened onto a t-shirt by the women of the Transitional Housing Program, or applauding the three local female leaders who residents selected as recipients of a SHE-ro award for their Courage, Character, and Commitment.
But at the Catherine McAuley Center, Women’s Equality Day isn’t only a time to celebrate the historical accomplishments of women. It’s a time for the women we serve to exercise their own voices in our world today.
Many of these women come to the Catherine McAuley Center having experienced trauma, but begin to discover their own resilience through weekly meetings with case managers, therapeutic and skill-building groups, and building relationships with one another through community activities.
That resilience is hardly ever more evident than on Women’s Equality Day, when messages from three residents invite guests to catch a glimpse of what life has been like for women in the Transitional Housing program. The speakers were confident as they shared about their history of trauma; surviving domestic violence, abuse, sexual assault and their struggles with addiction issues.
As guest speaker, Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt explained, “Telling your story IS advocating for change. Those stories matter because you are real people.” The speakers stood tall and did just that with their messages that showed other women, “You can make it. You can be strong.”
In the poetic words of one of the speakers:
“I didn’t have a choice
But what I have now is a voice
And nobody can shut me up
Because a voice is louder than silence
And my voice tells a story of violence
And don’t forget, you have a voice too
No matter the [things] that you’ve been through
And many voices becomes a current in a river that drowns injustices
Be swept away”
May we all drown injustices with our voices.