Community Partner Spotlight: The Center for Women and Families
Our partnership with The Center for Women and Families (CFW&F) started more than 14 years ago, and it’s one we’re very proud of.
This month, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we’re highlighting their mission and the White Ribbon Campaign. (More information about how you can support Denim Day on Tuesday, April 26 and the continuing mission of CFW&F at the bottom of the post.
It’s hard to know where to begin when talking about the important role the Center plays in providing services and support to survivors of abuse and sexual assault. The center offers emergency shelter and medical services, transitional housing, counseling, legal services and advocacy to anyone who might need them – not just women and children. CFW&F serves clients not just in Louisville, but also in 8 other of the surrounding counties.
We met with our friend Marta Miranda, the center’s current President and CEO at the Center’s main facility, to talk about why the White Ribbon Campaign is so important, and about her personal journey to the Center for Women and Families.
When you arrive at the Center, the first thing you notice is how inviting it is; there’s plenty of natural light, and art made by clients & local artists is on display everywhere. Marta tells us that this is by design. When the new facilities were built, it was a priority that it was comfortable, welcoming and warm – a safe space. It’s a feeling that is also conveyed by the dedication and compassion of Marta and the other CFW&F staff.
In talking with Marta, it’s easy to see she’s been passionate about the Center’s mission long before she was in her current role. Beginning with her job as a social worker at age 20, and continuing through her time at Eastern Kentucky University as the Director of Women & Gender studies program, she understood both the physical and psychological effects of assault and abuse.
“I’ve been in this movement for 41 years,” Miranda says, “but my gut connection to the job came at age 8 when my favorite aunt came home from the hospital with two black eyes. When I asked her why didn’t she leave, she said it was because she couldn’t afford to feed her kids. So financial empowerment and independence, self-sufficiency and education is what we can do to help.”
Though our partnership began with CFW&F before Marta was appointed, it has strengthened significantly in the years she’s been at the center.
“The center partnership with Heine Brothers’ is long and deep,” said Marta. “We began partnering to promote the awareness side of things in the stores about 3-4 years ago, but Heine Brothers’ has been involved with CFW&F through Ronda’s Blend and the Penny Donations for much longer.”
For years, Heine Brothers’ baristas have chosen to donate all the pennies from their cash tips in memory Ronda Mahaffey, our former co-worker and friend who is also the namesake of “Ronda’s Blend”. For every bag of Ronda’s Blend you buy, 50 cents is also donated to CFW&F.
And while donations are very important – they allow the center to continue the many services they provide – what Marta would really like to see is fewer people needing the center’s services.
“We need to treat both sides of the problem – both the survivors and the perpetrators. If we don’t treat that other side of the spectrum, we won’t get anywhere… We have to understand that both the victims and the perpetrators are us, are our families and communities, especially in a culture that doesn’t make a lot of space for men to be human beings. That isn’t to absolve the abusers, though.”
This can only be achieved through increased awareness, discussion of issues and intervention before a situation reaches a crisis level. The White Ribbon Campaign is integral in that goal because it’s focus is on engaging men and boys, in addition to women, in the prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.
“White Ribbon is important because it is an international movement, and also a grassroots movement,” Marta explains. “Men have not had a voice [in the past], but they have wives and they have daughters, sisters, co-workers and friends who have been raped and beaten. We want to offer them a way to be allies and supporters.”
Want to know how you can be an ally? Be a part of the White Ribbon Campaign by:
- Taking part in Denim Day on Tuesday, April 26th! Wear your jeans and other denim apparel in support of survivors of sexual assault, then share it on social with #denimday2017 & #nomoredomore to encourage awareness.
- Wear your White Ribbon to promote awareness (pick it up at Heine Brothers’ store or other allied local businesses).
- Tell the men in your life about the campaign and why it’s important.
- Join other men to be a part of our local OWN IT initiative.
- Speak up & take action when you see evidence of gender-based violence.
- Talk to the men in your life about sexual violence and encourage them to speak out and take action. Prevention is key.
- Become a volunteer at the Center.
- Invite a community educator to speak to your organization.
- Donate directly to The Center for Women and Families, or add your pennies to the tip baskets next time you’re at the register of your local Heine Brothers’