Thursday, April 28, 2011

These boots were made for walking

Now that the rain has stopped, are you looking for something fun to do outside while also making social change in your community? I thought you might be! Well, you're in luck. Here are a couple of events in Butler and Hamilton Counties that you can enjoy while also raising awareness of sexual violence in our community:

Friday, April 29, 2011: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. What could be better than men, high-heeled shoes, and a half mile track? Put them all together and you get Walk a Mile--an event emphasizing healthy gender relations in which men "walk a mile in her shoes"--literally. You can attend the mile walk at Cook Field on Miami University's Oxford campus tomorrow at 4 p.m., followed by a high-heeled sprint at 5 p.m. Look for me at Butler County Rape Crisis Program's table!

Friday, April 29, 2011: Take Back the Night. If you live in the Cincinnati/NKY area, then perhaps you would enjoy walking with your sisters in solidarity at the Take Back the Night march. Rally at Sawyer Point at 6:30, then take the march across the Taylor Southgate Bridge to the Millenium Peace Bell in Newport, KY. The event empowers women to take back the night by not walking in fear of sexual violence or victimization. This year marks the 22nd annual TBTN march, hosted by Women Helping Women.

I know what you're thinking--sexual violence isn't really my cup of tea. Well, duh. But if we stay silent and keep pretending it isn't real and doesn't happen in our community, then more women will continue to suffer in silence. So tomorrow, stand up for your sisters, your mother, your friends, your aunt--for yourself! Together we can make social change.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Peer support

A couple of months ago, my boss at the Butler County Rape Crisis Program received word about a grant opportunity through the Ohio Department of Health. As a person who has been directly involved in the grant-seeking/grant-writing process over the past few months, I cringed at the news. I envisioned more late nights staring at a jumble of words, numbers, and dollar signs, and desperately dashing to meet the deadline (at the very last minute, of course). But this grant was different--instead of us jumping through a ton of hoops, all we had to do was express interest, briefly outline how we would spend the money, and wait for confirmation. And by "we," I really mean "not me." I didn't have to do a thing, which made the whole deal even sweeter.

Correction--I did have to do a small thing--I had to agree to help spend the money. Um, score! You would think it would have been a no-brainer--through some money to even the cash match deficit and call it a day. But no--turns out ODH money can be used for pretty much anything BUT leveraging state or federal funds.

(By the way, that cash match deficit has been slowly shrinking after revenue we received from the Vagina Monologues, not to mention anticipated funding from two grants I wrote in March--one to West Chester Community Foundation and one to Butler County United Way (yes-we're trying again for next fiscal year. Fingers crossed!)

Anyway, to spend the money, Jane asked me to help co-facilitate a group with a co-worker, Cindy. Long story short, our schedules didn't coincide, so she and Jane are facilitating one group, and I am co-facilitating a different group with our legal advocate, Jennifer. I've been putting a lot of time into recruitment, preparation, and planning over the past few weeks (which is partly why I've been so silent on here--that and I also got lazy. Hey, I'm honest.) I created a flyer, made calls to recruit for both groups, reviewed group procedures, created confidentiality and evaluation forms, bought a boat-load of snacks and drinks, and sketched out a general outline for the first night. As of Sunday evening, I had a few people confirmed to come to each of our Monday and Tuesday night groups, so imagine our surprise when we had a very low turnout. While many people might be disappointed by this outcome, Jennifer and I ended up feeling very encouraged. In talking with our single group participant on Monday, we realized there is a need for the support group--we just need to do a better job finding and inviting survivors into the group. It's very hard to convince someone to come out to a group on a weeknight for an hour and a half and talk about something you would rather not think about ever again. We get that--but once they get here, they will hopefully find the experience to be very supportive and beneficial. It's a tough obstacle, but we will do better. This week I'll put in more time for more brainstorming and problem-solving, and hopefully we'll double or even triple our turnout next week!

Whatever happens, though, our first week is out of the way, and I am feeling much more confident heading into subsequent group sessions. This has not only been a valuable lesson in group work and co-facilitation, but also in patience and problem-solving. All the makings of a good social worker, I guess! I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to be part of this project, and I'm hoping it will grow over the next two months.

If you or a woman you know live in the Butler County area, are a survivor of sexual assault or sexual abuse, and are interested in participating in a support group, give us a call--513-523-4149. The groups will be available through the last week of June, and are offered Monday or Tuesday nights from 6-7:30. A support group for Spanish-speaking women will be available soon, too. Check it out!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In my Easter bonnet

Well, after about a 30-day hiatus, I figure I should post SOMETHING on here. I apologize for the long silence from my end--I think this might be a new record of blog inactivity for me. I let myself get a little too caught up in school/internship/work/house (and just about in that order) to check in with you, my faithful readers. (You are still faithful, right?) So hopefully we'll see an uptick of posts here in the coming weeks. Though, admittedly anything will be better than...nothing.

In the meantime, while I get my act together, I'd like to offer this token of peace and goodwill--a cute baby picture from Easters past:

Yes, that is me wearing a pink frock, white bonnet, and even though you can't see them, lace socks. And white dress shoes. My expression is one of confusion, probably as my dad says off camera, "No Katie, the eggs go in the basket. In the basket. Put them IN the basket." I guess I've just always known it's best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Ha! Zing!

So, Happy Easter! And with that, let my blog, too, be resurrected from the dead on this fine holiday. See what I did there? Oh yeah--I'm back!