March 7th through the 9th I had the distinct pleasure of being in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there because of the Student Advocacy Team at the University of Chattanooga. I was able to do a local NPR interview at the University prior to the afternoon then able to go to the class of Professor Sara Peters, who teaches a class on violence against women. It was interesting to be there and see the beginning of the interaction with the students begin in the afternoon. The Women’s Action Council members are all students at the University of Chattanooga, and are the first team to solely schedule, and put on a Sin By Silence event. This was an absolutely amazing group of young ladies that decided to do this project and saw it through to every single detail. I was so impressed at the tenacity of this team and how badly they wanted the evening to be a success. As we went to dinner prior to the commencement of the evening event, I could feel the nervousness and yet at the same time absolute determination from the women’s action council. Once we arrived at the hall where the event would take place there was a swift orchestration of duties and straight to work they all went. When it came time for the lights to dim and the film to begin the film was opened by the Chancellor’s assistant. After the movie was shown a panel then answered many detailed and well thought questions. The panel consisted of several people, Sara Peters, Stacy Crosley, one of the local DV advocates, and a Psychologist from the school. It was so awesome to see the evening opened by the well thought out and heartfelt words of the team. There was no question the event was a resounding success!!
I am so proud of each and every one of the ladies and I hope to work with them again in the future. Thanks so much ladies for making it happen and allowing me to be a part of such a ground breaking event. Hope to stay in touch with you all. YOU ROCK!!
I was given the opportunity to screen Sin By Silence at a workshop conference in downtown Denver, Colorado. I met some amazing on fire people who are working in the fields of domestic violence prevention, protective services, empowerment services, re-entry, lawyers, students of the University and the community as well. I am looking forward to again working with many of the attendees as they return to their respective states and utilize Sin By Silence as a message to educate and foster the change necessary to make the difference. I was so proud to have this opportunity, and I too learned so much as well, being a part of this conference.
Again, I am reminded of the power of film and the ability it has to ignite the fire within each one of us to accomplish what we might have felt we did not possess, the power to make change, when in fact we do! The voices of the ladies of CWAA were heard loud and clear. I look forward to being a part of workshops and conferences in the future.
WOW! If anyone would have told me that on January 7th & 8th I would have the opportunity once again to be part of the “Women In Government” Directors Conference, I would have said, you’re kidding me. Well, I certainly was there and if I thought the Seattle Regional Conference was great, the Directors Conference was fantastic. It was great to see many members of the Legislature from across the U.S. that I was so privileged to meet previously as well as the new members who have just taken Office. My spirit soared at the power and the possibilities that are ahead with all of these women. I am so honored and humbled by having the chance to share not only my personal story of triumph, but the words of the women of CWAA and their courage to make change and have their voices be heard as well. Sin By Silence has been the catalyst to educate people on all levels to the necessity of making change in other states regarding incarcerated survivors, it has also been a forum to allow the voices of survivors who remain incarcerated to be a part of making those changes, and inspiring hope for a future to “Stop the Violence”.
To all of the amazing Legislators, Staffers, Directors, and Sponsors thank you all for being a part of making a difference! I can hardly wait to be a part of the next Conference!
Another has now come to an end, I can hardly believe that I have been out of prison now for more than 26 months. What an absolute blessing. This past year has been quite an experience for me learning about what it takes to start a non-profit and getting it done. I want to take this opportunity as well to thank each and everyone who has helped me along the journey in 2010 and say that exciting things lay ahead for all of us. Every 9 Seconds will be up and running full speed ahead partnered with Sin By Silence. It continues to touch my heart and spirit as I travel the United States speaking and screening Sin By Silence in communities, universities, seminars, and conferences just how magic can be made when you can actually see and feel the excitement that comes from people wanting to make a difference themselves.
Thank you all, for an awesome year! Sin By Silence for always having my back and allowing me the chance to represent such a life changing film!To every wonderful person I had the opportunity to meet this year and exchange tears, laughter and the desire to make change with. Looking forward to 2011 and all that lies ahead…I hope and pray everyone will have a safe and Happy New Year!
When I arrived it was in the 20’s and the next morning when I awoke, it was snowing and so beautiful. I had the distinct opportunity to be the guest speaker at the Circle of Women Annual Fundraiser for the Y.W.C.A. On Wednesday, I was taken to lunch by Debby the Executive Director of the YWCA and Steve her Director of Development & Communication. Later that day while back at the hotel I had the chance to go to the Ballroom where the event was going to be held to see the ladies decorating and setting-up for the next days luncheon. That evening I attended a reception and had the chance to meet a few of the people of the next days events as well as just have the chance to relax.
I reported to the ballroom at 10:15 a.m. for the sound check and then ran back to my room to finish getting ready and prepare for my speaking. Once I was ready I arrived in the ballroom to see hundreds of women waiting eagerly to enter the luncheon area to be seated. I again met many wonderful ladies and also had the chance to see several I had met the day prior. The luncheon began and I was able to be seated by a wonderful woman I met last year with Olivia who is one of the Police Department’s Chief of Police, Dottie Davis. It was great to see several familiar faces, like Lydia, Debby etc. Once the program got underway I was asked to the back where they put a microphone on me and I was given approximately 3 minutes to eat before I was to speak, eat, who could eat with all those eager smiling women there waiting to hear me speak.
Once I was done speaking and had done several photos with people I did an interview with one of the local News Anchors Terra Brantley. We shared a common bond of being sister survivors and it was great to have the chance to be part of making a difference in the local community. Once all was said and done after the day I had the chance to go to the local YWCA shelter and have dinner with the women. This was the highlight for me having this chance. We had some heart to heart discussion and it meant so much for me to have the chance to be there. Before I knew it, it was time to leave back to California on Friday morning.
I WANT TO THANK EVERYONE WHO HELPED TO MAKE MY TRIP TO FORT WAYNE AN AMAZING TIME!!! I hope I will have the chance to return again.
It was now time to head home again, I truly hated to see my whirlwind month come to an end. It was so awesome to have had the chance not only to return to some of the places I had the chance to go last year, but also, to meet many more new people as well. My life has been enriched by the experiences of Domestic Violence Awareness month, and the all the people I was blessed enough to have met, and I hope that if only one life has been touched, one victim knows they possess they power to leave, or one woman understands she deserves more than, it’s really been more than I could ever have hoped it would be. THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR MAKING MY DREAM A REALITY!!
It was in the early evening and I had to head home and hit the road for my trip to Arizona. I went home and loaded up the family and on the road we went including the dog. We stopped along the way when it got late for the night and headed the rest of the way in the morning. Once up and bright and bushy tailed we headed where we were going to be staying. We got settled and I made some calls about the events for the evening. My evening event was at Estrella Mountain Community College. Olivia and I were both here last year and it was a truly great experience and I was very excited to be back again. There was a good turnout and afterward I headed back to the place where I was staying. The next day was an entire day event and I did approximately 5 separate screenings during the day. That evening after the day, the professors and a few dear friends whom I had the opportunity to meet last year joined us all for a late dinner. This would be the prelude to the next evening for me.
The next evening I scheduled to arrive at the local shelter, the New Life Center at about 6 p.m. which would have allowed the women to see Sin By Silence first then we could share in some great open discussion. David and our dog Ruby joined me for the evening and it turned into an awesome evening with the women opening up and also having the chance to really enjoy Ruby. There were approximately 25 to 30 women present. Upon leaving I was presented with a very special gift from the children who had painted seashells purple and put glitter on them for me. It was so great to have the chance to go to the shelter again after having the chance to meet the staff at the shelter the year prior when Olivia and I were on tour. It was also really great to see my dear friend Kristi again who is also a survivor.
The next day is was about heading to Luke Air Force Base to speak. After an hour drive or so, we arrived at the base. We were met by the event host and shown where to set-up and the film would be screened. I was informed there would be two screenings and at the first one although not many were in attendance, it was a powerful group. The second screening brought more than 70 attending. It was awesome to see service personnel listening so intently and being touched by the women in the film. Both screenings proved to have some very interactive discussion and comments by everyone who attended. I even took pictures with several of them. The Chief of Medical truly touched me when she presented me with her medical coin. The Chief explained to me that I must carry it with me at all times, which by the way I have since the moment I got it. It was explained to me that only people who touch lives and make a difference are presented with the coin from someone who earns the coin in the first place. It was an absolute honor to be given the coin. After the screenings and cleaning up we were given a tour of the base and I was taken to the tarmac where I would actually stand next to an F-16. WOW! was that amazing. I truly appreciate being able to be there and meet the wonderful young men and ladies that are in the position of making life changing decisions each and every day.
I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
THANK YOU EVERYONE IN ARIZONA WHO MADE MY TRIP AN AMAZING TIME!!! I hope to return again.
It was now time to return to California and a driver would be picking us up for a trip to a studio for me to be on the “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” Show. It seemed like the flight took forever and finally we were on the ground and the driver was waiting for us and off we went. I will admit I was a nervous wreck and Olivia kept telling me to relax everything would be great. We arrived at the satellite studio since there was no way we would make it to the CNN studio in Hollywood with the traffic. Once inside we were given a brief tour and I was shown to the dressing/make-up room where I would have the chance to get ready for the interview. Olivia and the driver left for a few minutes so they could get us a bite to eat. Once I was dressed and almost done with my make-up a real make-up artist arrived and finished my make-up for the show. Before I knew it, it was time to go on air. It was so awesome to have the chance to speak not only about my story specifically during domestic violence awareness month but also have the chance to hopefully reach out with a message of hope to other victims that they have options and there is help today for them. The interview was now over and I truly felt great about it. It was nice once I got home for the night and over the next several days to read the comments people had made on facebook on the show’s facebook page.
I arrived at the airport in Ontario heading for Chicago midway ultimately heading for Columbus, Ohio airport. Olivia and I would be able to meet up in Chicago and make the remainder of the trip to Ohio together. Once in Ohio, we rented a car and headed toward the hotel to get some much needed rest and prepare for our event the next morning.
The next morning we headed to our event in a Wilderness Preserve area which was beautifully kept. I never would have thought that such a place would exist in the wooded area that it did. Come to find out it was really a hippie town of old days and really cute to say the least. Our event entailed a power point presentation after the film. The event was attended by social agencies and service providers for the surrounding counties. What an awesome group of people! It was quite clear that once again there was a room full of providers that on fire to continue there work with a renewed sense of empowerment that they are doing a great job!! I personally enjoyed meeting each and everyone of the attendees just as Olivia did as well. On the breaks we could hear the birds and you could even purchase bird seed to feed them if you wanted to. After an entire day of training and screening the film it was time to get some dinner which we found a local pizza place which was good considering we really had no idea where to go for dinner. We had some time to kill before our evening presentation at a local high school. The event for the evening was a local high school and each of the attendees were instructed to bring a food item for the
local Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County.
It was wonderful to see the students arrive with everything from canned goods to noodles. Many would run in the door and inquire for their parent driving them when the event would end so that they could be picked-up on time. Soon both Olivia and I realized that the average age of the young people attending for the evening was between 13-15 years old. How awesome was that!! This was a great opportunity to speak to these young people about healthy relationships and have them ask a lot of really good questions and have some great open discussion. There were a few young people who broke down sharing the experience of either their mom or grandmother being in an abusive situation and how they could still remember what it was like. Our hearts were touched by these young students and I was so happy I had the chance to be there and meet them. At the end of the evening we took a group photo and it was really cool. Thanks students for making this such a memorable evening for us.
The next day we had the opportunity to tour the shelter where the Family Violence Prevention Center is. What a great group of staff and volunteers as well as the Detectives that are assigned there and respond to family violence calls. There are social workers assigned that ride with the detective to calls for family violence victims. It was as usual so awesome to see the ladies at the shelter and have them share with us. This is truly where my heart lies. I only wish I had a shelter to turn to that was there for me when I needed it. That evening we had another event a a University out a ways from where we had been. It was nice to be at a University where religion is just as important as their studies. There was a good group of students, some community members, and faculty in attendance. This was another opportunity to change lives and be able to physically it happen. You could see those attending on fire to make a difference and that is what matters. They sign-up to volunteer for the Family Violence Prevention Center and see what else they could do. THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR MAKING THE TRIP TO OHIO AN AMAZING TIME!!! I hope to return again.