Yesterday I volunteered to photograph at the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee celebration of 25 years of investing in their community. It was held at the Italian Community Center and 350+ people were in attendance to hear the main speaker, Tonya Lewis Lee, speak about her work to improve the lives of children and campaign for healthy babies. Forgive me, as I was photographing and not taking notes, but her list of accomplishments around issues of raising healthy children in healthy families is impressive. If her last name sounds familiar, it probably is. While she’s the wife of famed director, Spike Lee, she stands tall and on her own two feet with a list of children’s book and movies to her credit.
She spoke about her work and the need to improve the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual lives of children and families. One comment I remember was the need to change how women tend to “shoo” men away when a newborn enters the family and all the women huddle around, insisting that “it’s women’s work.” While a mother herself, she reminded women that she’s learned that even though she has a professional degree and experience as an attorney, she now knows that her most important job in her life is that of a mother. Amen.
Prior to the main speaker at this event, an earlier panel of 4 women shared their professional and personal experiences with child sex trafficking in Milwaukee. As I popped in and out of the Social Change Exchange panel’s room to photograph the speakers/attendees, I heard these women describe the hard to hear experiences of young girls who are groomed into becoming sex traffickers as early as 7 and 8 years of age. The “emotional grooming” that occurs at this age, along the beatings and psychological deprivation that occurs, made it hard to listen to. Most of us have no idea that this is even possible, but my stomach turned when I heard that Milwaukee is a “hub” for training young girls and boys. This poster speak volumes about those who can’t speak for themselves because they’ve been told that no one will believe them if they tell another person what’s happening to them.
The Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee exists to make social change through the lives of women and girls. They believe in using philanthropic power to make a world that is just and fair. Their mission is good and their numbers are strong so change is already in motion in Milwaukee.
(Tech notes: Nikon D3s, 24-70mm f2.8 lens and 70-200mm f2.8 lens, ISO 6400 for speaker photos with monopod)