Despite responding to COVID 19 and providing all of our services virtually, CHH remains actively at work! Whether providing much needed supplies to children and families, participating in protests, ongoing organizing or training new advocates, we are prepared to show up with and for survivors and our communities! Following recent public events of blatant racism, including the murder of George Floyd, our community moved into action. On Wednesday, June 24, the City of Lowell held a Listening Session to hear from Lowell residents about their experiences with racism in the city and how we can begin tackling systemic racism in Lowell. In addition to the Listening Session, the Merrimack Valley Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consortium drafted a letter to City Council to declare racism a public health crisis in Lowell. The letter was signed by over 100 local businesses and 1,500 residents, and was rejected by the Lowell City Council during a five hour long meeting on July 14. At this City Council meeting, Mayor John Leahy stated, “We had a listening session, and it doesn’t seem like we heard what they said. We have a great city. But at the listening session, people asked us to admit that there’s a problem and stand with us.”
Despite the decisions made by the Lowell City Council, our community is not giving up. Right before the July 14th City Council meeting, dozens of community members gathered at Arcand Plaza for a rally to declare racism a public health crisis. Speakers, as young as 14 years old, passionately shared their own stories in demand for the City of Lowell to take action to protect Black and Brown communities of Lowell. The passion for change in Lowell is strong and youth voices are showing up to the forefront. On July 18, the Lowell Mass Action Collective, a community based group consisting primarily of young people of color, held a march and sit in with the mission of de-funding the police and funding the people and community programs instead. The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc. is committed to uplifting the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and those who fight for racial justice. Our mission at CHH is to eradicate sexual violence by eradicating the oppressions that use it as a weapon. Survivors live at the crossroads of these oppressions every day. Right now, we see our part in the movement to end sexual violence as doubling down on ending sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia in order to end gender based violence. #RacismIsAPublicHealthCrisis
Lowell School Committee Declares Racism A Public Health Crisis
The School Committee voted 4-3 to approve the motion, brought forward by committee members Connie Martin and Jackie Doherty. Doherty and Martin, along with Mayor John Leahy and School Committee member Hilary Clark voted in support of the motion. Committee members Andre Descoteaux, Mike Dillon and Robert Hoey voted against the motion. “The students that had family members who contracted or died from COVID were overwhelming Black students and we don’t have a lot of Black students at the Daley,” one teacher said. “Racism is a public health crisis.”
Thank you to our funders and supporters!
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated barriers already faced by survivors and their families, food and housing insecurity, job loss, linguistic access and more. The recent murder of George Floyd highlighted that systemic racism is one of the key reasons our survivors are faced with these barriers. But, over the past few months YOU, our supporters and funders, have consistently stepped up to support survivors of sexual violence. For that, we're highlighting The Greater Lowell Community Foundation, The Cummings Foundation, and Eastern Bank Foundation for their recent support. All three of these funders have provided critical financial support that we will use to support survivors and their families through the pandemic, while fighting racism. Thank you!
We had an amazing and restorative, physically distant but socially connected, retreat last week! Thank you to Project Adventure for hosting us on your beautiful land. So wonderful to connect with each other in person again after many months!
Youth Drop In
The Youth Drop-In is a virtual space for teens to come together and connect with each other in meaningful ways. We strive to cultivate emotional safety, to give teens a platform to feel both seen and heard, and to address feelings that may come to in response to Covid-19 and the BLM movement.
Plans throughout the month include: Activities to process current and historical events, breathing exercises and virtual games that bring community together.
HealingCorps Highlight: Aylinh
This month we would like you to hear from Aylinh! Aylinh, she/her, is one of the advocates who completed our most recent 40-hour Rape Crisis Counselor and has already supported several survivors. We are so grateful to have you on the HealingCorps team! “My name is Aylinh and I’m currently a college student. I decided to join CHH after learning about the services that the organization has to offer from medical to legal advocacy, and wanted to contribute my time as a volunteer to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by sexual violence, which unfortunately, remains prevalent. My experience at CHH has been pleasant, the training and monthly in-service have been very helpful. Moreover, the community of staff and fellow volunteers are understanding and supportive. I love how we discuss other social issues that are contributing to sexual violence.”