A Note from Executive Director, Lil Corcoran
The Women's Rights Information Center grew out of the feminist movement of the 70's, a movement that became a wildfire after being sparked by a desire for basic equal rights. Often we think we've come so far since then, that sometimes we might even question the need for a movement still. We become complacent. And then something happensﾅ injustices pile up and the movement must stir the ashes and embers to rise again sparking new pushes for equality. Sometimes there are new issues, but often it is the same old issues that crop up and we are reminded that equality cannot be taken for granted.
If you have ever gotten the chance to read WRIC's "How it all Began" you'll see that back in the 70's one of its founding causes was helping educate and support those affected by the drug Diethylstilbestrol. Many pregnant women were given this drug in the 30's through the 50's, which caused vaginal cancer in female offspring (known as DES babies). Fast forward 40 years later to a contraceptive called Essure. It consists of metal coils (including nickel) that are implanted into the fallopian tubes, that causes a whole host of medical problems for women and women activists who were pushing the FDA to ban it. It is not banned yet! Thankfully women are pressuring manufacturers and the government to do the right thing. What goes around comes around.
Other reasons we still need a movement? Look no further than "Me Too" and "Time's Up". The number of women who stood up in the last year and claimed that mantle, boggled even my mind, and I have been in the anti-violence movement for close to 3 decades. Some of us were surprised to find out that sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sex exploitation and trafficking is still rampant, and maybe even to a greater degree than we would have thought prior to these brave women coming out. Some form of power-based personal abuse is still a problem for 1 in 3 women, at some point in their lifetime!
Still not sure we need a movement? How about the infamous pay gap? Asian women make .87, white women make .79, Black women make .63, Native American women make .57 and Latina women make .54 all rounding out to .80, as compared to a man's $1.00.
Issue after issue (and I could go on and on), women are still coming up short. And so yes, yes we still need a women's center, and we still need a feminist movement. While at Women's Rights Information Center, our primary programs often focus on helping women (and some men) obtain economic independence, and while much of that is focused on jobs, that can't be all we do. How effective is it to prepare a resume for a client who has no affordable daycare? How effective is it to provide career coaching to someone experiencing PTSD from being battered? How effective is it to give someone Career Clothing if they don't have enough food to eat? Can we talk about economic independence when a minimum wage job will not provide for that? Can our Shared Housing Program help if a client is being discriminated against?
What I want you to know is that WRIC deals with all these issues and more. We do provide folks with resumes and job coaching, and housing referrals and clothing. We are a clearinghouse for all people in need who walk through our doors. We also meet people where they are at and respond to the injustices that they have survived through. It's not just the classes they take with us or the concrete services they receive, but it's the support they get, and the encouragement to keep trying even when things seem impossible. We provide all these services and we take a stand, and we reject complacency. We as an agency cannot do this alone; we cannot work in a silo. We can only help change the world to a fairer and more just place by partnering with you. I have the incredible privilege of working at a nonprofit organization, but nonprofits can only do the work of changing the community for the better by working in concert with its supporters and its community.
And here's the good news! We, in concert, have made a difference. While I've tried to make the case to you that we must remain vigilant so as not to lose ground and to keep gaining ground on equality, we have made a difference in individual lives. And we've also made a difference in broad brush strokes. With all the bad news, including what I touched on in the beginning of my own comments, things have gotten better.
While it may not seem this way, there is no question that violence over the course of time has gone down, crime has gone down, and there are food and shelters for the severely desperate. Survivors are feeling supported and changing the world for us again, making it a fairer more just place.
The Women's Rights Information Center with its Board, staff, clients, supporters, and volunteers are all part of making that happen. We are all Community Change Makers, together. Thank you for that.
AGENCY SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS 2017
* Career Counseling - 563 clients served.
* Hiring/Job Leads Workshops - 21
*Career Planning Workshops - 12
* Educational Workshops - 7
* Financial Literacy Workshops - 2
*Microsoft Certification Class - 37 served
*ESL classes - 170 students
*Citizenship - 10 students
*Legal consults - 164
*Legal Workshops - 12
*Career Closet appointments - 174
*Art Therapy - 15 clients
* Parenting Support Group - 20 clients
*Shared Housing - 102 intakes
82 of which were seekers and 20 were providers.
10 matches were made for 20 clients placed living together.
Counseling and referrals to shelters and other homeless programs were provided to all in need.
Lil Corcoran is a licensed Professional Counselor with a Master's Degree in Counseling from Montclair State University.
She has over 25 years' experience in nonprofit management.