- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On July 13, 2022
- celebration of courage, chicago metropolitan area, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, domestic violence organization, domestic violence survivors, DV agency, dv survivors, End Domestic Violence, family services, Housing Programs, non-profit agencies, northwest chicago, Shelters, WINGS, WINGS Program
Celebration of Courage
Each June, WINGS graduates are celebrated and share impact of WINGS in their lives. The event is called Celebration of Courage and it highlights graduates’ accomplishments over their time with WINGS. Featured below are excerpts from survivors’ journeys, in their own words.
The event includes inspiring messages, a meal and music. Also, current program participants and their children are recognized for their achievements and progress. Our most recent virtual Celebration of Courage celebrated 36 graduates, including 23 children.
La Tonya, WINGS Chief Program Officer, shared inspirational messages.
“A fire burning inside you is mighty; it is waiting to burn bright…Courage is facing fear. Fear of failure holds most people back, but YOU are not most people,” said La Tonya.
Watch her uplifting, two-minute message here:
Graduates Share Impact
Three of our graduates gave us permission to share their reflections of their time with WINGS and inspiration for those still in the program.
“WINGS offered me support when I thought there was no one else to support me.
To the women coming into the program, congratulations. I know it may not seem like a congratulations, but you are in the best hands possible. I was where you are not too long ago. It’s going to be hard. You are going to feel like you can’t do any of it. You are going to doubt yourself, but you can do it.
They took a broken me from the worst experience of my entire life…and they were amazing every step of the way.
They are going to give you advice, follow it.
- Apply for housing. Housing is important and the wait lists are crazy. Listen to them when they tell you to apply.
- Save your money, even if it is $30/$40 a check. It is going to help you in the long run.
- Advocate for yourself. Don’t rely on waiting for people to help you. I applied for Section 8 and waited almost two years. There are so many women that need help. It’s going to be tough, but you can do it.”
“WINGS program has helped me and my kids a lot in feeling safer and we have been given so many resources and opportunities. My kids and I have been able to grow and everyone in the program has been nice to work with.
I am so thankful for the great experience WINGS has provided my kids and me with shelter and housing, childcare, counseling, and parenting classes that I have learned a lot from. It has helped me become more patient with my kids. They have also given great gifts to me and my kids.
I’m so happy I was able to complete the program. I was nervous at first and it exceeded my expectations.
My kids and I are happier since we came to WINGS. I’m definitely going to miss all of the staff and thank you a lot.”
“In October of 2020, I finally took myself and my children and fled an abusive home to the WINGS Safe House. I finally decided it was time to leave. It was a very difficult decision to make. It took years before I finally decided that it was time to leave. Not only was it a difficult decision, but the best one I have ever made.
The people that work with this organization are wonderful. That’s not even the right word to describe them. They are all there to help and they all understand. I’ve never had anyone help me before. I’ve never had anyone truly understand or believe what I have been saying.
After I decided to stop resisting the help, I took it seriously and did everything I needed to do. And now a year and a half later, we have our own home. Have lived here a little over a year now, never would have thought that would have happened.
I have a job, kids are in school, everything is so much better than it was before. Yes, we still have hard days, but you have to stay positive and know that this is the best decision you ever made.
WINGS literally gave us a brand-new life and I would never have thought that was possible.
So please, you’ve got this. Stay motivated, there are always going to be hard days but when you have this many people behind you in your corner you can do anything. So, take it from me, a person who stayed too long in a bad situation. A person who finally did it, and I’m now free. I’m sitting outside my home right now. Stay positive, you’ve got this.”
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*WINGS uses representative names and photos to protect the dignity and security of those we serve.