Fill in the blank: W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been ________ to me.
What did you come up with? During a focus group conducted for an outcomes evaluation of the Latina Program, a research participant stated, “W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been like a tissue for my tears.”
At the time she said it, I was deeply moved. Today, as I write this blog post, I realize that I absolutely relate to that sentiment. I worked for W.O.M.A.N., Inc. for several years before moving on to earn my graduate degree in social work. During my time at the agency, I had plenty of good cries at the office. On one particularly bleak day, I even went in to the office on my day off to bawl my eyes out in a safe and supportive space. So there are many different ways I can fill in the blank.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been like a tissue for my tears.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been my beloved community.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. has been a place of enormous personal and professional growth for me.
Naturally, I wanted to give back to this community and agency that has meant so much to me. One of the requirements for completing my degree was a culminating project or thesis. I decided to use this as an opportunity to conduct a research project for W.O.M.A.N., Inc. After meeting with the Executive Director, we decided that an outcomes evaluation of the Latina Program – that is, an evaluation of whether the program is meeting its goals – would be useful for the agency, as well as feasible to accomplish. The research question was,
“How has participating in W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Latina programs and services affected the client’s feelings of self-empowerment and ability to build a stable, violence-free life?”
With the help of the Latina Program Manager and the Latina Program Assistant, I conducted two focus groups with participants recruited from Echando Pa’lante. While I was expecting positive feedback, the participants’ discussions of the impact of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. on their lives were breathtaking.
The focus groups categorically reported significant improvements in the participants’ quality of life as a result of accessing services at W.O.M.A.N., Inc. The participants also expressed immense gratitude towards the agency and pride in belonging to this community. The participants’ growth was facilitated in a way that encouraged the development of community, raised their consciousness and helped them find their voices, and built on their capacity to meet life’s challenges. These results indicate that the Latina program effectively meets its desired outcomes. The following is a quote that reflects the general tenor of the focus group discussions:
“Now I feel good. Now I am changed. Now I am free. Now I feel like a bird that was inside a cage, but now that bird is free and it can always fly and be free…I feel very changed, very different. For me…it is a great honor to be here today and to be apart of W.O.M.A.N., Inc.”
Again, I can relate to the sentiment. It was a great honor for me to hear these women’s stories and to bear witness to the amazing leaps and bounds that they made in their lives. It is a great honor for me to be apart of W.O.M.A.N., Inc., an agency and a community that creates positive changes in the lives of not only their clients, but their advocates as well.
~ Lauren Lim, MSW