Empowering women, one gift at a time

by Hugo Bravo

Women’s Empowerment Day at The Salvation Army in Northern Kentucky is an emotional, spiritual, and tangible approach to improving the well-being of women who are living in shelters or who have experienced trauma.

“Much of the help that women request at The Salvation Army are things that anyone would request, like utility assistance or groceries for their families. But we also found that women were asking for the same, specific things; most notably undergarments and feminine hygiene products. Shelters aren’t always accessible with such needs,” says Captain Wanessa Moore, corps officer at Northern Kentucky. “Of course, we could supply them with those things, but we also wanted to meet with those women in a deeper way, letting them know that they matter and deserve encouragement.”

With a donation from a local philanthropy group, the Northern Kentucky corps had its first Women’s Empowerment Day in the late summer of 2021. The corps bought a hair washing station and reached out to local hairdressers about doing a day of pampering for the women who came to The Salvation Army. A local Supercuts salon brought hairdressers, along with manicurists, free hair products, and coupons for future visits.

“Supercuts are the superstars of this event. They’ve been doing it with us since the beginning,” says Captain Wanessa. “Some tell us that this is their first haircut in years.”

Every woman who comes to Women’s Empowerment Day is gifted a bag with a Bible, feminine hygiene products, and gifts from other local sponsors of the event. Women’s Auxiliary donates clothing, and even gets sizes ahead of time, so that every woman can receive something to wear. Captain Wanessa says that even something like a free Frappuccino from Starbucks can be a joyous occasion. “For someone living in a shelter, this can be a huge lift to their mood. If you have only $5 in your pocket, you’re not spending four of them on coffee. The circumstances won’t allow it.”

Captain Wanessa says the main goal of Women’s Empowerment Day is to create an environment of compassion; someone who has experienced deep trauma can feel safe enough at The Salvation Army to express themselves and share with others.

“I never want any woman who comes to us to feel like the odd one out,” says Captain Wanessa. “I want them to know that here, they can sit with peers that understand them, and they have a building that they can return to whenever they need.”