Building a world free from sexual violence is a daunting mission. It can be easy to feel like we are always looking up the mountain and seeing how steep the climb is. Yet, there are moments when we are reminded that we cannot do this work alone and that we are part of a community, a state, a country and a global movement for justice. We look to one side or the other and we see our beautiful partners, friends, family and co-conspirators who stand with us and remind usthat together we can do this. Every day we take a step further by educating our children, practicing consent, working against sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia, supporting men and boys to be part of the solution…among many other actions
Sometimes, in our team meetings, I will excitedly shout “WAY TO MEET THE MISSION!” as we share successes, new partnerships, and the amazing work of Board, staff and volunteers who make up our team. We laugh and share the moment. This April was such an exciting and busy Sexual Assault Awareness Month that I almost missed the opportunity to say that to the almost 500 people who joined us in community activism. In workshops on masculinity, in ally support, in poster making, in event planning, in phone calls, cups of coffee donated, and in chants during Take Back The Night. This included youth, college students and professors, men, women, non binary folks, people from many ethnicities, languages spoken, classes and cultures, City Councilors, artists, poets, and activists. To you I offer our appreciation from CHH and say “Way to Meet the Mission! Isa Woldeguiorguis, Executive Director
Thank you donors, partners, and supporters!
Thank you again to our donors, partners, and supporters who joined us on May 1st for a great appreciation breakfast. Connecting with you was fun and we appreciate the opportunity to show you how your support has reached survivors in the community, and how it helps us MEET THE MISSION! Look right at those people having fun! Join our mailing list through visiting our website (chhinc.org) to stay up to speed about what we are doing and how to get involved. Thank you to everyone who attended and to YOU, our amazing donors/partners and supporters!
We are excited to announce our new Linguistic Access Program, which will enhance servicesfor the Khmer Community in the Greater Lowell Area. With support from an Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) grant, this program will bring trauma-informed, culturally responsive services for members of the Khmer speaking community. We are excited to partner with the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA) and Northeast Legal Aid (NELA) to create outreach and servicesto reach Khmer speaking community members. CHH staff member, Mana Kheang, has stepped into a new role as the Project Manager. Mana brings a great deal of experience managing similar projects as well as passion and commitment to the Khmer community in Lowell.
"This project is really important to me. As Khmer, I grew up witnessing intergenerational trauma that many of my fellow Khmer people, my family included, grapple with every day. Through socialization, we are taught to be discreet about our personal and family affairs. We pretend that everything is okay and avoid talking about it, especially women. Many of us have mastered the skills of silence, submission, and avoidance to keep problems private and accept life asit is. At the same time, it is important to emphasize the fact that sexual and domestic violence can happen and affect all genders, not just women. The healing journey is not linear. It can be scary to begin with. However, healing is a process and healing means breaking silence — to be heard, seen and believed. Most importantly, healing is to know that there is a community to support you. Therefore, this project is really important for the Khmer community in Lowell to continue." -Mana Kheang
We Love Community Partnerships!
Our Engaging Men & Boys team has been working with the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Lowell, Inc. (CMAA) after-school program where young men and boys are learning about healthy relationships and being a positive role model. The participants range in age from Kindergarten through 8th grade and after each session they leave feeling engaged, competent, and motivated! This work is possible through the support of the The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).
Reflecting on Take Back the Night
Our 14th Annual Lowell Take Back the Night was a powerful night of community and solidarity. Thank you to all who marched, spoke, and showed up for survivors. You are truly appreciated. Read the reflections below from UMass Lowell students who participated in TBN.
"I was reminded by several women that whatever we do to survive is the right way. I feel stronger by seeing other women be strong. I feel stronger knowing that there is a future for me in a community where I feel connected." "Although the night was very heart wrenching and goosebump giving, there were many positive outlooks. There were common phrases said throughout the night like, “we make each other stronger”, “I’m not the only one”, “I have a voice”, and “it’s okay to not be okay”. Many survivors went up to speak after being moved by another speaker, and told their story for the first time. The empowerment and love throughout the crowd was moving." "...it was Take Back the Night that gave me the first feeling I’d ever had of being so unbelievably proud, remarkably happy and even relieved to be surrounded by a community of strong survivors. This was the first time in my life I had felt a personal connection to a community this strong." To view more photos from Take Back the Night click here.
Board Member Highlight: Maria Garay Dodd
We are pleased to introduce you to one of our amazing Board Members, Maria Garay Dodd! Maria Garay Dodd is a branch manager for The Lowell Five Bank with 23 years of banking experience. She resides in Lowell and attended Lowell High School after moving to the U.S. from Puerto Rico. Maria joined The Center for Hope and Healing board in 2017. Being part of CHH and being able to help in making a difference in survivor’s lives and their loved ones is gratifying for Maria. In her spare time, Maria enjoys spending time with her family, going for walks, working out, traveling, going to the beach, and reading. She also volunteers as recording secretary for Lowell First Church of the Nazarene where she is a member.
Below, please find one of Maria's favorite quotes and what she has to say about her experience at The Center for Hope and Healing as a Board Member.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
"Being a board member of The Center for Hope and Healing (CHH) has opened up new opportunities for
me to be able to help others and make others aware of CHH. I enjoy being part of the board, and my
fellow board members are passionate about CHH’s mission, which is contagious! This year I had the
chance to attend Take Back the Night and was moved by the diversity of people attending the event. A
great way to show support and take a stand against sexual abuse no matter where you are from."
We are so glad you are here, Maria!
Welcome New CHH Staff: Masade and Sadé!
We are thrilled to welcome them to the CHH team!
Masada Jones - Youth Programs Manager
Masada Jones (she/her) is an artist, community builder, and youth worker. She is Founder and Executive Director of The Kindred Project, an organization creating visible community with Black people in Lowell. She is the co-founder of FreeVerse! a group focused on enriching the lives of young people by fostering their love of poetry and performance. Masada is a Lowell native dedicated to investing in her people and community. Becoming Broken, her first full-length collection of poetry was released March 2016.
Sadé Farquhar - Community Education/Youth Advocate
Sadé began her journey as an advocate during her undergrad studies at Salve Regina University, earning a BA in Psychology and a minor in Human Services. Throughout her senior year, much of her fulfillment and education came from her internship at Day One, a sexual assault and trauma center in Providence RI. Sadé left her university with a promise to herself in continuing a career rooted in social justice. During her studies, Sadé found a passion in being a support system for the LGBQ/T community. Her determination grew stronger as she first hand experienced how intersectionality is meant to be embraced. Sadé found strength in advocating for MSM of color, and the transgender community of color at high risk for HIV. In her last role as Outreach Specialist at Lowell Community Health Center, she became a source for training and the facilitation of groups for individuals living with HIV. Sadé strives to help create a focal point in which conversations can happen around marginalized groups. She finds her passion in creating awareness and empowering those around her.