Me Too Grantmaking Update
In July, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts announced $45,000 in awards to support organizations tackling sexual violence in Western Massachusetts through the Fund for the Me too Movement and Allies (the Me Too Fund) made possible through a grant provided by the New York Women’s Foundation. Programs started earlier this fall and have been able to pivot despite public gathering restrictive mandates due to Covid. We recently reached out to each program for an update.
Based in Berkshire County, the Elizabeth Freeman Center started hosting trainings for staff and community partners in the health, faith, and education fields with the District Attorney’s Task Force for Domestic and Sexual Violence beginning their second-year community awareness project. Their goal is to engage various organizations and community members across the county in activities that raise awareness and support for survivors of sexual violence.
Human in Common’s program at Springfield’s Chestnut Middle School began its Healthy Relationships course earlier this month. This program seeks to teach participants to challenge rape culture through learning about and adapting to using respectful and inclusive language and a critical lens to enable others to challenge harmful behaviors and toxic social norms. The Ethical Upstander training, which will include faculty and students, is scheduled to begin in the spring.
Located in Turners Falls, Root Studio helps to break cycles of family trauma, poverty, sexual assault, and substance-use disorder through offering yoga classes and quiet, private space that allows girls and young women to rest, read, make art, journal, do homework, and practice their self-care routines with a supportive adult presence. Though they had to suspend workshops and programs for the time being due to Covid, Root Studio opened its doors for clients to use laundry facilities, showers, and lockers, basic necessities they may not have access to on a daily basis.
Safe Passage piloted a virtual version of their bystander intervention and empowerment self-defense program, the Say Something Prevention LAB. Through the various aspects of Say Something, Safe Passage provides support for community members to take action to prevent and interrupt interpersonal violence and build the skills necessary to foster healthy, positive relationships. Hosting the training sessions virtually increases access to community members who may not be able to attend the sessions in person.
The Salasin Project’s Healthy Relationships After Trauma programs began offering their two hour weekly workshops for female survivors based at the Franklin House of Correction earlier this season. Participants in the trauma education group, Beyond Violence, say they enjoy learning more about themselves and gaining skills in building healthy relationships with others. The virtual watercolor series for survivors provides relaxation skills and practicing self-acceptance along with exploring healing through the arts. Between the two program offerings, 15 women have participated to date. Make sure to check out artwork created during the workshops.