June 18, 2010. New York City. The Bowery Mission Women's Center is located in a brownstone on a beautiful tree lined street on the Upper East Side of New York City. I heard a lot about the wonderful work the Center was doing and decided to see what Veronica Kelly, Director of Special Event's at the Bowery Mission has been up to. I learned that Veronica worked tirelessly to oversee the renovation of the building, a five story brownstone, donated to them by Heartsease Home Charity. The building presently provides hope, support and homes for over 20 women who have become homeless for various reasons. These women are from all walks of life and are fortunate to have found the Center.
A special project of Veronica Kelly's 'The Tree of Life' was dedicated today. NY Senator Kristen Gillibrand was honored for being an inspiration to all women for her role in public service.
Deborah Jones, Director of the center explained that, "We do not just provide a bed. We provide a home and program for women to attend classes and do chores daily from 9am to 4pm. Classes include Bible Study and Life Skills training. Our program reinforces that God loves these women. It is our goal to restore their hope and confidence during the 4 to 5 month period they stay with us. When they graduate they have the skills necessary to find employment."
Cynthia, a 52 year old woman living at the mission volunteered to speak publicly and share the troubled life experiences that led her to seek help and rehabilitation from The Bowery Mission. Other residents of the mission were present. Cynthia nearly died before entering the Center, she said, "Thanks to the help I have received, I am able to love myself again, the classes and the counseling are teaching me to face life and not try to escape it." Cynthia is learning computer skills, receiving counseling and sewing instruction. Cynthia said proudly, "I made the dress I am wearing today and learned how to sew here."
NY Senator Kristin Gillibrand was presented with a Bible, called The Women of Faith book and a leaf on The Tree of Life bearing her name. Passages in the Bible with special meaning were book marked by the Center's current residents in the Bible Study program. The Senator said, "I am very thankful to all," encouraging the women to turn love and support into courage. She quoted Ruth and Naomi's story from the Bible stating that it was an inspiration to her.
It was a pleasure to see Veronica's achievements. Her husband, NY City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly showed up for bit to show his support. Today was not about New York City's valiant police commissioner who is often in the daily headlines; today was Veronica Kelly's day to shine.
Story and Photos: Sara Herbert-Galloway
coverage also on http://www.blacktiemagazine.com