Diana Burrell, Philanthropy Manager
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -Nelson Mandela
As I was reflecting on the topic of freedom for this newsletter, I asked a dear friend of mine, “Johnny,” what freedom means to him. Johnny’s first response was: “The ability to be you.” I think that is a succinct, but great, reply; however, as he continued to explore the topic, his answer got more complex. Johnny shared how challenging it was for him to know what freedom meant when he was abused by a family member. Johnny’s abuse started at such a young age, it became his “normal,” and defined his relationships, daily rituals, and complete outlook on life. It was all he knew. As he got older, Johnny realized that what he was experiencing wasn’t healthy and eventually freed himself from his abuser.
Breaking free from abuse isn’t easy without help. Johnny made many poor choices for his physical, mental and emotional health as he navigated his new found freedom on his own. He didn’t have the support or foundation needed to start living a healthy life for himself. Without the services of an organization like the WCA, Johnny struggled for nearly a decade to get to a healthy place in his life – to be his true self. How much different would Johnny’s journey have been if he’d had the help of an organization like the WCA? While everyone’s healing journey is distinct, the assistance the WCA offers survivors would have allowed Johnny to cast off his chains and become the giving person he is now years earlier.
Johnny, like many people I have met in the community, mentioned that if he had known of the WCA, he would have had a much easier time growing into the healthy, confident, and caring person I know today. Johnny is thriving now in healthy relationships with himself, his family, his partner and friends. He gives back to his community in many ways that “respects and enhances the freedom of others.” That giving back has continued to feed his soul and heal the wounds from the abuse years ago, and has also helped heal those around him that have had similar experiences.
In the words of one of our former clients, “Anna,” “The WCA is the best. I have gained so much in the program, and am truly grateful for this time to heal.”
The generosity of our donors and community truly enhances the freedom of others. By supporting each other in creating a safer and healthier community, we also cast off our chains and become healthier people. Thank you for all that you do!
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