As the community begins to slowly open up after a difficult pandemic of more than two years, Abby’s House has slowly been offering more programs and opportunities for residents, guests, and Women’s Center members to come together. Lucelia DeJesus brings her guitar and a few songs to the monthly Open Mic event in the Annette Rafferty Women’s Empowerment Center. Residents and guests attend to share their talents, connect with each other, and enjoy beautiful music from Lucelia and other women.
Residents and guests share their experiences in a safe space, where they can talk about women’s issues with an audience that understands. One resident (pictured left) sang, “If I Were a Boy” by Beyonce, and introduced the song by discussing the difficulties many women face in society.
Some residents have truly begun coming out of their shell, as they enjoy sharing one of their talents with their fellow residents and guests at Abby’s House. Women feel empowered as they share their voices. Through Open Mic, women have also shared their challenges, expressing in a song or poem what they may not yet be able to put into words. Sharing a trauma, a burden, or a joyful moment with peers who have similar lived experiences helps women to heal. A resident recently sang The Beatles, Blackbird, and brought a smile and maybe even a tear to many in the audience.
“Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these broken wings and learn to fly / All your life / You were only waiting for this moment to arise.”
Not only sharing their singing voices, women often share poetry that speaks to them. The first Open Mic event at Abby’s House, a resident shared a poem she recited each morning as she got ready, empowering herself to start the day’s journey (pictured right).
At Abby’s House, staff regularly discuss the importance of joy in the lives of the women and children we serve. These joyful moments help women find healing, bringing to mind the values of Abby’s House. Women’s Self Determination, “We believe that women can name and change the injustice that exists in the lives of women. We encourage women to be leaders and decision-makers. Abby’s House helps women to recognize their own inner strengths, opportunities and abilities to lead self-directed lives.”
The Women’s Center has been a place to find healing since the very beginning. In one of the first Abby’s House e-Newsletters that was sent to supporters, the center was highlighted.
Events such as Open Mic help women to identify their challenges, find their strengths, and move forward, more energized and empowered. Today, just like years ago, residents find healing in the Women’s Center. A resident recently wrote a poem, part of a Poetry Competition held for residents and guests, which sums up the journeys of many women and children who have walked through the doors of Abby’s House over the years:
When I say I am brave,
I mean I have tended to my own wounds,
Healed my own spirit.
I have built a garden out of the dust and rubble,
Against all odds,
I have begun to bloom.
Like a lone sunflower towering above a field,
I have arisen from the ground and emerged,
Beautiful and radiant and unapologetic.
The greatest thing I have ever achieved,
Is remaining soft,
When every trauma,
Has desperately tried to harden me.
Softness is a gift I have chosen to give myself.
I hold it in my arms when the storms shake my soul,
And rejoice when a rainbow emerges again.
And a rainbow always does.