Empowering Women to Live Free From Violence: Interview with NYAWC

“Empowering women to live free from violence.”

-Empowering women to live free from violence.-

This is the motto of the New York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC), an organization based in New York city that “helps women and their children overcome domestic violence and other forms of abuse by empowering them to govern their own lives.”

This motto on the NYAWC homepage immediately caught my eye. That word “empowerment” in particular hooks me. Because you don’t often hear the word “empowerment” used in the same breath as “domestic violence.” But empowerment is key; it’s how organizations and shelters like NYAWC, which provides “a safe haven through multi-lingual support programs and shelter services,” help break the cycle of abuse.

As part of January’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month, I had the opportunity to engage in a bit of Q&A with a staff member at NYAWC.

But before I get into the thick of things, let me do a quick plug — Here’s an easy way for readers to get involved and give back to this great organization! NYAWC’s two programs for wellness and for children and youth are in need of art and musical supplies for counseling and group activities. You can support them by visiting NYAWC’s MyRegistry page.

It’s not often we get to learn more about how a non-profit came to be, how it works, and what inspires its staff. Mary Caparas, manager of NYAWC’s anti-human trafficking program, Project Free, gave us an inside look at NYAWC:

Angie: What is your first memory of working with NYAWC?

Mary: My first memory was actually being provided with supervision – and realizing that I had more to say and more to process than I initially thought!

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Angie: What has surprised you the most about working with NYAWC?

Mary: I was surprised at the level of collaboration and shared leadership staff continually strived for. It was exciting and re-invigorating.

Angie: What do you find most challenging about promoting awareness for human trafficking? (An author aside here: We all must strive to educate ourselves beyond the many misconceptions of abuse and recognize it as a real issue affecting all kinds of people). 

Mary: I find the topic’s inaccessibility to be the most challenging. Some people focus on images from popular media — and forget about the resilient and capable human beings it affects. As such, some people are either unwilling to discuss or face its root causes or find the entire topic too triggering to bring up.

Angie: What is the best thing to happen to you since you began working with NYAWC?

Mary: The best thing really has been meeting clients as I find that I do learn the most from direct work with them. While I have worked at NYAWC, it has been ingrained in me that exploitation and/or abuse can be part of an ongoing continuum so, although I specifically manage Project Free, NYAWC’s anti-human trafficking program, I also continue to step back and realize that clients may have also experienced more than just trafficking in their lives. It is always very much present in my mind that victimization labels can perpetuate stigmas.

Angie: What do you wish other people knew about HT or about what NYAWC does?

Mary: I wish people knew how much of an open door policy NYAWC had. We might be called the “New York Asian Women’s Center” but we serve anyone who has ever experienced some form of abuse and/or exploitation inclusive of gender, race, or sexual identity. We also serve clients indefinitely. If you also got to know each of the staff and counselors, you would get a sense of how generous and kind they all are and in a city that is always moving and working, such kindness is like breathing wonderfully clear air.

Angie: Tell me about some of the people you’ve met and worked with while working with NYAWC. Who in particular has inspired you?

Mary: Aside from the hard working and generous staff here, the folks who have inspired me really have been the clients and community members. They share their lives with you – their wins, their losses, their laughter, their strategies for survival, their histories. They have told me what we should advocate for especially if they don’t yet have the resources (or energy) to use their own voices. It inspires me to lead a life of service for others.

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Angie: What would you tell someone who is looking to get involved for Human Trafficking Awareness Month this January.

Mary: I would say that they should think of one thing (even something small) that can create a great ripple effect. Believing a person when no one else will is something seemingly small and requires no material resources, but it can make a world of difference for a person who keeps having doors shut on them.

Angie: How do you think art and entrepreneurship can help those in difficult situations?

Mary: Having worked with the Deaf community, I learned that art can allow for expression when the voice is not accessible. At our Asian Women’s Empowerment program for possible survivors of human trafficking, I’ve also seen how the arts can create a sense of community and alleviate anxiety. Entrepreneurship gives opportunity for a person to have a vision and utilize one’s skills.

Follow NYAWC on Facebook & Twitter.

Need help now? Call NYAWC’s 24/7 multilingual hotline at 1-888-888-7702 or visit www.nyawc.org for more information.

Pearls, crystals, gems: handmade by abuse survivors

This post was also published on the Gibson Girl.

I spent one afternoon a couple weekends ago snapping shots of beautiful handmade jewelry for the nonprofit The Uncovered Artistry Project (i.e. the nonprofit I founded five years ago with my sister!). The nonprofit, which boasts an online boutique, sells the artisan work of domestic and sexual abuse survivors. Because we believe art and entrepreneurship are pretty darn empowering.

Below are some of my favorite shots of some of the stunning jewelry we are currently selling in the boutique.

Gibson Girl Post 1

Swarovski pearl earrings…our bestseller

 

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domestic violence awareness bracelet…my personal favorite- it’s such a pretty touch to every outfit!

true blue rhinestone earrings…are you feeling like royalty today?

true blue rhinestone earrings…are you feeling like royalty today?

Gibson Girl Post 5

Don’t forget to shop the boutique and support the nonprofit at uncoveredartistry.com.

Cheers!

Sarah

Uncovered Artistry is an online shop selling the handmade art and jewelry of domestic and sexual abuse survivors. We support survivors of domestic violence by encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, financially supporting survivors, and promoting awareness of abuse. Shop online at www.uncoveredartistry.com. Follow us on Twitter @UncoveredArtist.

Welcome, Spring!

Welcome, Spring!

It’s time to pack away that puffy winter coat and dust off the summer sandals. The snow has finally melted here in WI, and we’re excited for the change of Spring! Welcome Spring with us–shop our jewelry box, and pick out the perfect complement to your spring wardrobe!

Uncovered Artistry is an online shop selling the handmade art and jewelry of domestic and sexual abuse survivors. We support survivors of domestic violence by encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, financially supporting survivors, and promoting awareness of abuse. Shop online at www.uncoveredartistry.com. Follow us on Twitter @UncoveredArtist.

New Spring Arrivals: Chainmail, Pearls, & Neon

We are very proud to introduce our new selection of jewelry for spring! All items were created by survivors of abuse and are handmade with beautiful high quality materials. We’re loving the unique chainmail jewelry (who knew chainmail could be so beautiful?), the ever gorgeous and delicate pearls, and new pops of stylish neon. Shipping is always free, so what are you waiting for? Check out the whole collection at www.uncoveredartistry.com. Here are some of our favorite pieces.

Spring Jewelry handmade by abuse survivors at UncoveredArtistry.com

Swarovski Pearl Teardrop Necklace, $27Spring Jewelry handmade by abuse survivors at UncoveredArtistry.comTrue Blue Rhinestone Earrings, $16

Spring Jewelry handmade by abuse survivors at UncoveredArtistry.com

Orange, Green, & Blue Resin Flower Necklace, $38Spring Jewelry handmade by abuse survivors at UncoveredArtistry.com

Pearls and Gold Memory Bracelet, $6Spring Jewelry handmade by abuse survivors at UncoveredArtistry.comBlack and Gold Chainmail Earrings, $15

Spring Jewelry handmade by abuse survivors at UncoveredArtistry.comPink Chainmail Necklace, $45

Which piece is your favorite?

-Sarah & Angie

Uncovered Artistry is an online shop selling the handmade art and jewelry of domestic and sexual abuse survivors. We support survivors of domestic violence by encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, financially supporting survivors, and promoting awareness of abuse. Shop online at www.uncoveredartistry.com. Follow us on Twitter @UncoveredArtist.

Try.

Try.

We dare you!

Uncovered Artistry is an online shop selling the handmade art and jewelry of domestic and sexual abuse survivors. We support survivors of domestic violence by encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, financially supporting survivors, and promoting awareness of abuse. Shop online at www.uncoveredartistry.com. Follow us on Twitter @UncoveredArtist.

Behind the Scenes: Our Spring Photo Shoot

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in Madison, WI. A small group of us gathered in a tiny cafe right off Madison’s busy State Street. Equipped with our drinks of choice–one herbal tea, two hot chocolates, and three flat whites–we commenced Uncovered Artistry’s spring photo shoot. Think bright colors, varnished findings, and lots of sparkle.  Here’s a sneak peak behind the scenes.


UA spring photoshoot 1

UA spring photoshoot 2 UA spring photoshoot 3 UA spring photoshoot 4

Featured Blogger: Les Personnages

Less than six months ago, a recently graduated Portuguese fashion designer, Margarida, began the blog Les Personnages, which features her work. A few months later, she kindly featured information about Uncovered Artistry’s Art Show to End Abuse on her blog. We are thrilled to feature her in return, and hope you take the worthy trip to her blog to experience her creative work.

In the high unemployment and a shaky economic climate in Portugual, this blogger “…decided to make a blog so I could share my work with others and it was a way for me to keep working and not giving up.”

“The characters,” she writes, “were born when I started playing on my computer, after that I kept making them for fun. I decided to post them on my blog to see what people would say about those little characters that I was doing,  after that some people told me that I should make them into t-shirts and they would like to have a t-shirt with one of those characters.I thought about that and became really excited, so I started planning a way to turn them into t-shirts.”

Currently, she is working on the t-shirts and hopes to start selling them soon.

Let’s wish Margarida all the best and support her by visiting her blog, Les Personnages, here!

You can also Like the blog’s Facebook page or follow it on Twitter.