Our Ninth Annual Women's Luncheon is next month on Wednesday, April 26th! Today is also International Women's Day, a day that celebrates all women, and brings awareness to issues related to women, like gender equality, domestic violence, reproductive topics, and women's contributions to society, politics, and culture.
This month, I was able to have a conversation with Katie Barrett Ford, JOURNEYS' Woman of the Year 2023. Katie is a true example of what it means to be a woman who is also a professional powerhouse and community advocate. She currently serves on JOURNEYS' Advisory Board, but has been involved with JOURNEYS since 2015.
We talked about her history with JOURNEYS, how homelessness affects our shared community, and the importance of our Women's Luncheon as an opportunity to bring attention to the experiences of women and children experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.
Congratulations, Katie, on being awarded Woman of the Year, and thank you for your continued support and advocacy for our neighbors in need!
"My mom was involved with JOURNEYS before it was even called JOURNEYS | The Road Home. She set a strong example for what it means to give back to her community. I learned a lot about giving back from watching her help with PADS at various churches in the area for over twenty-five years.
I was born in Arlington Heights, but I ended up living downtown and then all over the world. Eventually I returned to Arlington Heights and have lived here now for quite some time. I had a successful career, an amazing family, and I was looking for a way to give back. So, when Beth reached out to me about getting involved with JOURNEYS, I truly believed that it was divine intervention.
I've been in the media marketing profession for 29 years. When Beth brought me on, she had a specific remit in thinking about how we can drive JOURNEYS marketing capabilities. I secured free media for our biggest fundraising event of the year, Bid for HOPE, including billboards and bus shelter ads to boost awareness. I’ve since been able be a point of contact for JOURNEYS when it comes to expanding and developing its marketing and messaging, and I’ve always been happy to parlay my expertise.
I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to give back however they can. Many people don’t think there’s homelessness in the northwest suburbs. But poverty is right in our backyard. And as a community, that’s where our obligation is – and exactly where JOURNEYS lives and works.
We were finally able to build a beautiful new facility where there's so many services to help people get back on their feet. JOURNEYS has never had this kind of state-of-the-art facility before. What’s truly incredible is that it’s a community initiative created by neighbors for neighbors.
JOURNEYS helps people no matter who they are. Poverty isn't specific to a gender or an age group; it’s prevalent across all ages, genders, and races.
JOURNEYS’ Women’s Luncheon highlights how our demographics transcend many of the stereotypes of homelessness and how our clientele has evolved over the years. Homelessness is often represented by a struggling adult male, but our data show that 43% of our clients identify as women and 25% are children. JOURNEYS serves not only individuals, but also families, something that’s important to highlight as an agency serving a large suburban area.
As an agency, JOURNEYS is sustained by a lot of female leadership. Beth, our Executive Director, is an amazing leader. I admire her passion and persistence. Her dogged tenacity is what brought JOURNEYS to where it is today. That’s why it’s an honor to be recognized by her and JOURNEYS as Woman of the Year. It’s a role I envision as one of advocacy. I want to help make connections and drive awareness. It’s the natural inclination of people to want to do good. It’s human nature to want to help. I want to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved and give back, whether that’s financially or with their time.
That’s what JOURNEYS is all about: giving back. Making connections. Advocating a “never-take-no" attitude for our clients on their journeys home and for the wider community as we support our neighbors. It takes a village."
Transcribed and arranged by Roxanne Gentry, Marketing Associate
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