“same sky,” empowering women

Economically empower a woman—you change her, her family, her community, her country… and eventually, the social & economic fabric of the entire world.

On Inside Edition last night, not a program I usually sit and watch, more like I glance at the screen as I’m walking through the living room. When something is of interest though, I’ll sit on the edge of the closest chair. If it’s worth watching, I may settle in for a few minutes. Mention of “Same Sky,” an organization that helps empower the women of Rwanda caught my eye. So I gave my full attention to the broadcast.

In 1994, 800,000 Rwandans were massacred. During this genocide, women were enslaved as sex victims. As a result they were inflicted with the HIV virus. Bearing children, these new mothers were unable to care for their offspring because they suffered the effects of the disease. Filmmaker Francine Le Franc was moved to help these women help themselves, and their families. Le Franc began “Same Sky,” a cooperative wherein the women learned to crochet. With their newfound skill, they were able to make beaded jewelry. The necessary tools are shipped from the U.S., and the finished pieces shipped back for sale in retail stores, and at home parties, and trunk shows. 100%of the proceeds are put back into the business, thereby enabling more women the opportunity to participate.

Le Franc decided “Same Sky” was a befitting name for the business venture, because ALL women live under the same sky. “They see the same stars and the same moon. Every woman. One dream.” TV host Deborah Norville remarked, “And they’re sold for a profit. This is not a charity operation.” Le Franc added “It’s a trade initiative, not an aid initiative. It’s a hand up, not a hand out.”

Check out the SAME SKY website for further information, and see familiar faces, like those below, who have joined in supporting the cause. The jewelry may be a little pricey for most of us, but for an extra special gift, they might just work. Nonetheless, we can join in celebrating the self-liberating, empowerment of these women of Rwanda…hugmamma.

Halle Berry in Seafoam     

Goldie Hawn in Butterscotch and Jade Green

Ben Affleck in Men's Wrap

Katie Couric in Clear Sky

Ann Curry in Caviar

Chelsea Clinton in Seafoam

Fran Dresher in Fire Red

Meryl Streep in Starry Night

Queen Latifah in Chocolate Brownie

Jesse Jackson in Men's Wrap

Joan Collins in Fire Red and Starry Night

Geena Davis in Sky Blue

Donna Karen in Fire Red (photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)

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“homeless celebrity,” ted williams

 

Along with most other Americans, I rooted for Ted Williams as his resurrection from the homeless heap was broadcast across all TV channels not too long ago. But where is he now? Is he still in rehab for alcoholism? Is he still getting phenomenal job offers? Does anybody care anymore? Now that I think about it, didn’t Dr. Phil assume responsibility for getting Williams “back on track?” But no longer media’s darling, he seems to have been quietly relegated to castaway status again.

An article in Tennessee’s homeless paper, The Contributor, “Lessons Learned from Ted Williams the homeless man with the golden voice” by Gemma Holmes, once again shines the spotlight on the man who was given the chance to salvage his life in a big way. Holmes explains, convincingly, that the homeless experience cannot be rinsed clean by fame and money.

The rags to riches story of a homeless veteran with a golden voice took him off the street corner begging for change to the sets of the Today Show, The Tonight Show, The Early Show, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, and Dr. Phil. He had a tearful on-air reunion with his mother and a public meeting with his children. Lucrative voiceover contracts with Kraft, MSNBC and others were given to him within days of his story going viral. The video of him being interviewed by a local reporter has been seen by 15 million viewers and counting. His rise to stardom in less than two weeks was remarkable. The glare of the spotlight showed us his talents, but it also showed us his demons that made the media who took him to the high heavens in one swoop, quickly throw him back to earth with a crashing hand.

Comparing Williams to other homeless whose “comeback stories are filled with ups and downs,” Holmes says about them

They may not have a golden voice, but many have skills and abilities that have been buried under the hardships that come with being homeless. Homelessness affects a person physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Many are looking for a second or even a third chance to correct the mistakes of the past.

The remainder of the article speaks to the selfless involvement of a local Nashvillian, Pat Waggoner, who is giving a “hand up” to the homeless in his community. Unlike Ted Williams who obviously had no support system in place to help him maneuver his way back from the brink, Waggoner provides the backbone needed for the homeless to stand tall once again, taking their rightful place among the rest of society. He understands “that getting a Ted Williams off the streets does not stop the struggles instantly. Unlike our culture of instant gratification, Pat is patient and believes that with faith, perseverance and hard work, lives can change for the better.” In offering the usual assistance to the homeless, such as meals, clothing and housing, Waggoner enlists the aid of others in the community, from “networking and civic groups, and church members who abide in his passion for helping others.” But he goes “above and beyond” as well.

He even finds jobs to help them become independent and self-sufficient. Pat is a strong advocate for rehabilitation to make sure that individuals stay drug and alcohol free after they leave the streets…he makes sure that for long-term well-being, he mentors men and families about financial literacy along with making sure they have someone to call when stressful situations occur that can push one over the edge. He encourages group therapy and spiritual counseling and believes strongly that counseling is one of the keys for personal growth. No, Pat Waggoner is not superman, but he is dedicated to deflating our homelessness numbers one person at a time.

The author goes on to say that Waggoner recruits others to help in his crusade by telling one homeless story at a time, enlisting his listeners compassion in believing in “the goodness of men and women who just need a break.” Undoubtedly not every story has a happy ending, but this doesn’t deter Waggoner from continuing to reach out to others.

“All too often when a very public rags to glad story falls short of our expectations, it has a chilling effect on us, and cynicism can creep into our giving and serving others.” This says the article’s author is why Pat Waggoner’s actions “can teach us to give to those in need, to step out on faith and build relationships with individuals who may still stumble and fall on the road to recovery. Leaving a life on the streets can happen with just one faithful encounter, but the emotional scars often remain as they transition into their new dwellings.” The writer goes on to suggest

If you come across a Ted Williams today, help him find a Pat Waggoner. Slowly but surely, you just might change a life.

there’s nothing i can add to such a profound statement…except “amen”…hugmamma.