The conversation was lively in the dining room at Calvary Women’s Shelter last week when we hosted a site visit from the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. The Foundation’s Washington 100, a group of committed donors chaired by Doreen Gentzler, combine their resources to support programs that help women and girls in the DC area reach their full potential.
The women who gathered – younger and older, of different races and life experiences – were there to celebrate Calvary receiving the foundation’s Leadership Award last year and the impact this investment has had on women living in Calvary’s programs.
Two women – recent residents of Calvary Women’s Shelter – shared their stories of struggle and transformation. While these were personal stories, specific to each individual, they were also universal. They were stories any woman in the room could connect to – stories of women experiencing joy and pain, of women facing challenges and turning their lives around.
Everyone in the room nodded in understanding as Joan talked about surviving the abuse inflicted on her by her husband. We smiled when she told about her first night in her own apartment – the first time in her 58 years that her name was on a lease.
We shared in Lana’s sadness when she told about losing all that she had – her belongings, her financial security, her family, and her sense of self – as a result of health problems. We could feel her joy when she said she would be moving soon – back into a place of her own.
It was a gift to be in that room with women who are doing amazing things to improve their own lives and the lives of others. These women are donors generously investing in other women. These women have chosen professional careers in organizations focused on empowering women and girls. These women are residents of housing programs who have changed their own lives and are committed to helping others change theirs too. All of these women are an inspiration.
**Check out pictures from the event here.