It is and It isn’t....
by: Greta Harless
I know that is a weird statement or way of starting an article, but that is what I keep coming back to when I think about Hand UP For Women. A few years ago I was asked to attend a Gala for an organization one of my mentors was involved with. I really didn’t know much about the organization, except for conversations we had, but because it was important to her I graciously accepted the invitation.
I sat there and listened to several stories of how this organization had changed women’s lives. The women’s stories definitely overshadowed the guest speaker Phil Williams and guest Mayor Glenn Jacobs , as I am sure both would be pleased that they were not the focus of the evening.
It was like most Galas, if you have ever attended one, but with a sense of”realness” I had not experienced at others.
The stories ranged from living on the streets and addiction to escaping abuse and fighting for their children. The women were from all walks of life and varying backgrounds. One that had participated in the program was a dear friend of mine. She had struggled on and off with drug addiction in the past and as most thought she had overcome her addiction. Then life happened as it usually does, and she was out on the streets living day to day and using again. Anyone that has been around that lifestyle knows you cannot help an addict unless they are ready. You can keep pulling them out only to watch them go right back into that hole of desperation. She told her story and my heart ached for her but was also filled with an overflow of pride for her triumph. She credited much of her journey to Hand UP For Women. They provide a safe place for her to walk though this season of her life with no ridicule or judgment. However with the expectation of participation. Everyone contributes!
Its not a cookie cutter program that looks good on paper.
It is and it isn’t; an addiction recovery, a safe house, shelter or sanctuary. It’s changing women’s lives, one by one.
They don’t have a large facility and are not housing 100s of women at a time. It’s a group of women who have a heart and passion willing to sacrifice their lives for other women. It’s women who have graduated the program giving back to women just starting the process. It’s the real deal!
As Executive Director Eva Pierce states on their website, “I often tell our participants that to change their lives permanently, they must find a new playground with new playmates. I hope you will check back often to see what happens when both are provided for them, here at Hand UP For Women.” It’s a safe place where women can find help and experience real change if they are willing.
You can read several of these stories under the Hearts UP Blog on their web page. I hope they inspire you to see how you can help those around you. I hope they encourage you if you are needing to make a change or find someone to help. It is and It isn’t another program our little city offers.