The Women’s Center of Huntington found its beginnings in an effort to combat the effects of the isolation that women were experiencing in suburbia. A similar center in Brooklyn had been founded by a women named Donna Jenson. Her concern was that women of suburbia, no longer living down the street from their mothers, aunts, sisters and cousins as many women of previous generations, did not have the close and daily support of other women. She sought a place where she could help facilitate that close support among the women of suburbia. The Old First Church in Huntington had a group of women who were interested in her ideas and decided to see what she had to offer.
For 9 months 12 women gathered with Donna on a weekly basis for support based on listening and acceptance and vulnerability. When they were ready to share what they had learned with the community the organized an open house. The story goes: they optimistically set out 50 chairs. Three hundred people showed up. Clearly they had hit on something that women were craving; that need for connection that wasn’t being fulfilled in their daily lives.
Over the years since then, The Center had concentrated on providing support groups on almost any topic one can imagine and on training peer leaders for these support groups. See the What Makes Us Unique Page for more information on peer leadership and other important Women’s Center concepts.
In 2014 the isolation the women experience is a little different than that of women in the 1980′s. Today, for many, it’s the isolation of having to work while raising a family as a single parent, or a family where both spouses have to work just to make ends meet, or living in poverty or being chronically ill or disabled. The isolation of the exhaustion that comes with those things and having no time or money for anything but survival.
It’s also the isolation that technology has imposed on us, so that we no longer see each other face to face or even talk. We text, we facebook, we email, we tweet. We don’t even make phone calls and hear someone’s voice. Our communications are short and to the point. No time for self reflection, no one to actually listen or see our body language or tears well up in our eyes. These technological ways of communicating also leave everything pretty black and white; “this is what I think, please press like.” And we have 500 TV channels that allow us to escape our feelings and our pain.
It also continues to be the isolation of families no longer living in neighborhoods together. Many of even live across the country or across the world. One may see their children, grandchildren, or parents only every couple of years or even less. For this we Skype, but as helpful as that is, it’s not the same as sitting in the same room with your grand baby’s head in your lap or being able to hold him the same day he was born.
So where can you find face to face connection? At the Women’s Center of Huntington we offer just that; support, community, compassion, self reflection and positive life changes; a place to be oneself no matter how messy that self is at the moment. A place to stretch past our comfort zone, where it’s okay to fail at something or be confused, a place to push past social norms and roles and expectations. And a place to be seen, to be listened to, to hear other women’s stories, to share your tears and to look into another’s eyes, for real hugs and not just <hugs>.
Please join us in a safe space for real face to face connection.