Here are the newest Mary’s Pence grantees!
Mary’s Pence has supported Bridges since its inception in 2013. Kathleen Bond, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, helps women who have experienced incarceration attain agency through numerous workshops on health and skills for life post-prison. With the particular focus of Bridges on maternity in prison, Kathleen also teaches workshops that help mothers who haven’t finished their sentence build a healthy bond with their newborns. Bridges seeks financial and political support from prison administration to ensure that the program will continue advocating for systemic change within the often-dysfunctional Brazilian justice system.
Centro de Recursos Educativos para Adultos (CREA)
New York City
CREA provides educational resources for the Spanish-speaking adult immigrant community in East Harlem and Upper Manhattan, NYC. Classes at CREA help immigrant adults attain full literacy both in their native language and in English, and offer culturally competent advice on how to navigate the resources of the city. Life skills workshops, seminars on leadership development, and computer skills classes supplement CREA’s focus on adult literacy, creating a platform for social mobility and networking. The center is sensitive to family and cultural needs. CREA has been in operation for three years, and will use the Mary’s Pence grant to improve the services for its expanding student body.
Dreamcatcher was created in 2008 by and for survivors of human trafficking and substance abuse. Dreamcatcher reaches out to women involved in the sex trade industry in Chicago with a pressure-free, no-judgment approach while also offering opportunities to leave the industry. This year, the Mary’s Pence grant will fund “Reaching for the Stars,” a direct outreach program which responds to the immediate needs of the survivors for food, medicine, material goods, and psychological support as they develop a sustainable lifestyle.
Exodus Financial Services is a startup initiated by the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in 2015 to counteract predatory lenders in the neighborhood of the parish. Payday loans are in the $200-1000 range and require repayment in full upon the next payday. If not repaid on time, they can accrue interest rates of up to 273%. About 70% of those with payday debt are women. Exodus Lending provides Minnesotans trapped in payday debt with interest-free repayment options, personalized advice and financial counseling. The Mary’s Pence grant will increase program support as the client base of Exodus Lending continues to grow.
The name Isuroon means “woman who cares for herself.” Isuroon grew from the personal experiences of its founder, Fartun Weli, who was struggling with infertility and the cultural pressures related to childbearing in the Somali culture. Since 2010, Isuroon has been an advocate for culturally competent women’s health care, providing resources on research, health promotion, and community and civic engagement. This first Mary’s Pence grant helps fund a project that will create social spaces and workshops for Somali women to learn about political processes in the United States, increase women’s presence and voice in their communities, and build leadership skills.
The Justice Project was founded in 2008 by Mercy Sister Donna Ryan, and Kris Wade, a survivor of crimes against women. Eighty percent of women they serve have been sexually exploited through prostitution, whose lives are unstable due to homelessness, mental illness, domestic violence, or addiction. A third-time Mary’s Pence grantee, the Justice Project will continue giving direct service to those in need, as well as educating the legal officials, police, service providers and community members on human trafficking issues.
Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE)
Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota
RISE is a new organization and a new Mary’s Pence grantee, started as a response to the need for connection within the community of Muslim women in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. The main goal of RISE is to make the underrepresented population of Islamic women activists more present in the political process. RISE seeks sustainability for women-led philanthropies and businesses through hands-on workshops, raising the visibility of Muslim women who are involved in civic engagement.
San Benito/San Andres Health Program
“For Women, By Women”
San Benito and San Andres parishes have led the Health Program since 2000. Last year, the Mary’s Pence grant funded projects on primary care and women’s reproductive health run by the San Andres parish. Based on conversations during health care visits, the program identified a need for mental health services in response to domestic violence in women’s homes. As Guatemalan culture favors a personalized approach to health care, an expert from the community will serve as a mental health promoter and therapist. She will initiate in-person visits, therapy sessions, and seminars on how to counteract domestic violence.