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She feeds the soul and the body ...

Women Like Us Foundation supports women who are making a difference for humanity and specifically women who have created charities that we believe are meaningful and impactful in making the world a better place for all of us. Laura Henderson is one of those women.  Listen to her interview on Women of Focus, WFYI Public Radio.  Hosted by Jill Ditmire.  She's nourishing bodies and souls in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Growing Places Indy was launched by Laura Henderson, executive director, in  2009 and gained 501c3 status in 2012.  In 2009, the director of White River State Park reached out to Laura and her family to start a vegetable garden.  There was no specific vision or plan, but there was a space available for the endeavor in Indianapolis.  Laura saw the opportunity to use the high-profile location to engage the community in conversations about food, where it comes from, farming practices and our food system.  In the first year of the operation, she also recognized for more vegetable farmers to serve the Central Indiana market.  This prompted her to imagine using her Slow Food Garden in White River State Park as a training ground for future urban farmers.

Watch for Laura's story in the upcoming Women Like Us Book due out Spring, 2016.

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The scars within her were used for helping other girls in Kenya...

Kim Dewitt- "I knew the scars I carried within me could enable me to be a voice for others."

Women Like Us.  Three Journeys.  One Mission.  To Change the World.
The Women Like Us Foundation Documentary is Coming Soon!

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Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership. Together we’re helping women change the world.

The Women Like Us Foundation has traveled to the Olmalaika Home and spent time understanding the girls' needs.  We have supported the program and provided funds for necessities, such as clean water through a newly built water tank.  We will be returning, once again, to Olmalaika Home in June of 2016. To learn more about Kim Dewitt and her mission, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani
Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

“As a child I had been exposed to the ways of the Maasai tribe (…). I remember being separated from my family and led into the center of the women and girls. Later being returned with the red ocher painted on my face and beadwork hanging around my neck, I had no idea at that age that all the singing and dancing was really covering up a terrible deed – female genital mutilation.”

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“The Maasai girls in Kenya, and girls in general around the world, need a voice and someone who can understand them. I knew then that the scars I carry within me enabled me to be a voice for them. There is a home now in Sekenani, Kenya filled with giggles and hugs coming from 38 little girls. It is called the OlMalaika Home – meaning “angel.” It’s a home for young Maasai girls between the ages of 5-12 that are at high risk of FGM and early childhood marriage. I like to say, “it is a home where little angels dwell.” –Kim Dewitt

The mission of Olmalaika Home is to house and protect young disadvantaged Maasai girls, providing a warm, nurturing environment.  The home hopes to guide these young women, to see themselves as persons of value, to foster respect and appreciation for their peers, teachers, leaders, and culture, and to enable them to be a generation of educated, productive, respected and valuable young women.  

There is a growing need for medical programs, educational development, additional counseling services, tutoring assistance, and living space.  Donations of all sizes are welcome. Even the smallest amount can make the difference in someone's life. 

By: Sommer Bannan

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"Your Basic Abilities Matter" -Caroline Barnett

The Women Like Us Foundation continues to acknowledge and commend women who are impacting world change like Caroline Barnett. We create awareness and raise funds to help these women grow their impact and sustain their initiatives. The Women Like Us Foundation has visited and provided mentorship to residents and women in The Dream Center. To learn more about Caroline Barnett and The Dream Center Foundation, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

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Caroline Barnett The Dream Center Featured in the Upcoming Women Like Us Documentary

“I’d likUnknowne to encourage women… your basic abilities matter and can be a miracle in someone else’s life. Don’t underestimate what you can bring to the table, and what your basic abilities can do in someone else’s life.” – Caroline Barnett

Caroline Barnett is the leader of Angelus Temple’s Women’s Ministry and has played a vital role in program development at The Dream Center in Los Angeles, California. Caroline first visited The Dream Center in 1996, after hearing her family discuss the tremendous work being done there and the enormous impact they were having on the Los Angeles community. She grew up in the Los Angeles area, and knew the change that needed and could be done in the inner city neighborhoods. At the age of 18, Caroline found her life passion, to assist and support the men, women, and children within her own community. She became inspired by how many people were transforming their life, miracles happening daily through the work of the organization and their volunteers.

When Caroline first began volunteering, she and her best friend initiated the Food Truck Ministry, a mobile food bank, delivering food to impoverished families and individuals each day. Caroline recognized that the families who were most in need of food were unable to obtain it by lack of transportation and the means to transport it. She created a program to bring the food to locations, near elementary schools and through the neighborhoods that were suffering the most. Today, more than 50,000 people are fed each month through this outreach ministry. Caroline also became passionate about the Adopt-a-Block Program, where volunteers physically walk the streets, knock on the neighborhood doors, and help to clean the streets by picking up trash, cleaning up graffiti, and mowing the lawns of elderly. Caroline says, “There is so much more that we do at The Dream Center, this is just the surface.” In the fall they are initiating a program for Veterans in need of assistance, as well.

Caroline proclaims, “If you have ever heard yourself say, ‘Surely there is more to life than this,’ rest assured, you are not alone. Getting caught up in the day-to-day routine, it can be easy to feel as though you have nothing more to give, and yet there is so much you want to do to impact the world. For those who are willing to get out of the proverbial boat and trust in God’s ability to do miracles, there is more, so much more!” Caroline is passionate about inspiring others to find their God-given cause to change this world with just a little bit of effort and a lot of faith; simply their willingness.

Written By: Sommer Bannan

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She's Empowering Communities to End Modern Day Slavery

Jessica Thorne-  Founder of Purchased. Women Like Us Foundation continues to acknowledge and commend women who are impacting world change like Jessica Thorne in her efforts in educating, equipping, and empowering women! We create awareness and raise funds to help these women grow their impact and sustain their initiatives.

To learn more, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Jessica Thorne graduated from IWU with her degree in Elementary Education, and in 2003 began a career as a teacher in a school in Indianapolis. She had a heart for working with young people, most especially children from backgrounds of poverty, hunger and abuse. While working as a teacher in Pike Township, Jessica never imagined that she would soon become a leading activist in her community in the efforts against sexual exploitation, and become the founder of an anti-human trafficking organization.

Jessica joined her church in 2007 on a mission trip to Nepal, a trip that dramatically changed the path and course of Jessica’s life. While in Nepal with her ministry, Jessica met several girls who had been victims of sex slavery. “What impacted my heart the most was that these girls were real, they were beautiful, and they weren’t just a character in a story or a movie. Their life path had taken them into extreme circumstances where they had become vulnerable and had become victims. I thought to myself, ‘this could be me. This could be any one of us.’”

Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar-a-year industry worldwide; the U.S. demand for global sex trading is one of the highest. It is the second largest and fastest-growing criminal industry. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that the average age of entry into this form of prostitution for a child victim is 13-14 years old. Victims often come from backgrounds of foster care, poverty, addiction, and family history of violence and abuse. Recruiters and the consumers use their victims as modern day slaves in areas of sexual exploitation and prostitution. The Polaris Project states that the victim of human trafficking may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day.

Jessica decided to leave her teaching job in 2011 to launch her nonprofit organization called Purchased; she felt it was God’s calling that she raise community awareness and provide relief for the suffering victims. Purchased is on a mission to educate, equip, and empower communities against human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Their hope is to stir the hearts of others to join the abolition movement.

Purchased uses two types of curriculum in their relief efforts: “Empowering Youth” and “My Life, My Choice.” “Empowering Youth” is a preventative program that educates and provides information on how to be a part of the solution. It is used with the youth throughout the community within schools and church groups. It is a tool to educate in the areas of healthy and unhealthy relationships, drug addictions, sexual health, and self-esteem. “My Life, My Choice” is an intensive, ten-week program that helps rehabilitate girls who have been victims in sex trafficking. While most of Purchased’s efforts are focused on education and prevention, they also work closely with a recovery organization called Restored, the Indianapolis Police Department, and the Juvenile Detention Facility.

Purchased continues to grow as an organization! This fall Jessica will be initiating another program with Purchased called “Allies.” “Allies” will help support in the recovery of victims by providing support and one-on-one mentorship for the girls after the rehabilitation with “My Life, My Choice.”

LISTEN TO OUR PBS INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA THORNE

[audio mp3="https://womenlikeusfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/wlufonwfyi-2.mp3"][/audio]

Written By: Sommer Bannan

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A Woman Like Us!

burkhart_lorene027Author, public speaker, and philanthropist Lorene Burkhart is an exceptional Woman Like Us. Lorene attended Purdue University and later decided to pursue teaching, much like many women of her generation. But unlike most at the time, Lorene became a trailblazer, pushing the boundaries to start her own financial business for women. Soon, she decided to give back to the community, which is where our paths crossed. I’ve always admired Lorene’s work, and this is why she was chosen as one of the first for our WLU interview series. We sat down to discuss her passions, experiences, and advice for amazing Women Like Us.

What have you always been passionate about? 

Lorene Burkhart: My real passion and the one word that describes me is ‘teacher.' Everything in my life that I've done at some point has involved gathering information and giving it out. I have been and still am a mentor, been part of university boards of trustees and have had honorary doctorates and degrees. Basically, all revolving around teaching.

What would you say has been most rewarding throughout this process? 

LB: I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of mentoring young women and people who've worked with me at different times and influence their thinking to be more open in the way they approach things. And it's been very rewarding to have people tell me that they've followed me and watched the way I do things. It's exciting to know that you can have that kind of influence.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with women reading this?

LB: I am particularly concerned about how young women see themselves as becoming involved in government, running for office, realizing that they have the responsibility to step forward if they believe in something. I would like to see young women get involved in politics. Step forward if you believe in something. Know what kind of leader you are going to be and then communicate that effectively.

What’s your take away message for them?

LB: I think women are sometimes too hesitant to shine their own light, for some reason they think they are bragging on themselves. But if you don’t tell people what you do and what's important to you, how are they going to know it? Be true to yourself, if you have a particular skill, talent, or passion, be proud of it and find how to make it work for you and to have it be your signature of whatever it is that you do well. Let it shine who you are and what's important to you.

Lorene’s Bio: Author and speaker Lorene McCormick Burkhart is known for her leadership and philanthropy throughout Indiana and the Midwest. Burkhart has used her creative problem solving skills and talents throughout her career as a teacher, broadcaster, civic leader, and corporate executive and continues to inspire others to advocate causes for the betterment of humankind. She has served Girls Inc. at the national level and has served locally on more than 25 boards in the past 20 years, ranging from arts, girl and women’s support groups, education, health and elder services. Lorene's Twitter

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