Friday, January 18, 2013

Women With A Vision, Recovering From Arson, Purchases Building

Women With A Vision, a community-based non-profit founded by a grassroots collective of African-American women in response to the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color, has just made a downpayment on a building in Midcity New Orleans. The Vision House will enable the organization to continue and expand their work - but first the house needs massive repairs, including gutting the entire structure, shoring of the foundation, and rebuilding the house from the inside out. They have set up an online campaign to donate, here.

Below is more information, from the WWAV fundraising website:

On May 24, 2012, Women With A Vision suffered what could have been a debilitating blow. Our offices were ransacked and torched in an aggravated arson attack; we were left with nothing but the charred remains of twenty-one years of work.

In the wake of this attack, you helped us remember that fire can also be a powerful tool of rebirth. Through your support and generosity, we were not only able to continue to be a lifeline for New Orleans’ most vulnerable women in this time of crisis, but we were also able to reach new heights in the national and international fight for women’s health and wellbeing.

We write now to ask for your continued support as we work to open our new home after the fire.

We at Women With A Vision envision an environment in which there is no war against women and LGBTQ communities, in which people have spaces to come together and share their stories, in which people are empowered to make decisions concerning their own bodies and lives, and in which people have the necessary support to realize their hopes, dreams, and full potential. Since 1991, this vision has been our rallying cry, taking us from the streets of New Orleans to the halls of Congress as we work to give people the tools to make their lives better and to organize for justice.

But 2012 was a particularly big year for us.

* We brought in the New Year with several Hill visits to testify to the on-the-ground impact of HIV criminalization, drug prohibition and funding cuts to health services;
* On March 29th, we won a monumental victory when U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman deemed Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature by Solicitation statue unconstitutional. We have gotten 68 people off the sex offender registry list, and an additional 116 people have filed motions;
* In June, just days after the fire, we launched our Micro-Enterprise program to support our participants’ economic self-sufficiency as they transition from street-based economies;
* In July, we traveled to Washington, DC to bring a focus on the HIV/AIDS crisis among women of color in the South at this historic International AIDS Conference;
* We welcomed Fall with the launch of our new harm reduction policy initiative; and
* We concluded a yearlong partnership with Louisiana State University through which we were able to refer more than 300 low-income women for breast cancer screenings.

Most importantly, we end 2012 having just secured a new space on North Claiborne, which we will make our Vision House. The outpouring of support we received after the fire helped us make the down payment on the property, but we still have massive repairs ahead of us, including gutting the entire structure, shoring of the foundation, and rebuilding the house from the inside out.

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