Our third International Dinner, at Manlius Pebble Hill School on March 19, 2006, began with blessings by women of six faiths. Speakers included Syracuse University chancellor Nancy Cantor; Madelyn Chadwick of the Syracuse transitional women’s housing program, Chadwick Residence; and Erica Tavares, Deputy Director for Development of Women for Women International. Proceeds from the dinner went to Chadwick Residence and Women for Women. Before we ate, blessings were offered by representatives of six faiths: Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim.
Nancy Cantor spoke on “Women and Community.” She began by praising WTB as the most impressive grass roots organization she has seen in any town. She wanted to underscore the historic importance of the two-way street running between national and international women’s organizations and the central New York community, creating a dialogue and networks that transcend boundaries.
Madelyn Chadwick, president of Chadwick Residence Board of Directors, spoke about how Chadwick Residence provides transitional living for women in need. Madelyn described Chadwick as a small agency, with a tight budget, doing a big job in the community. They have 12 rooms for single women and 5 for women with one or two children. They provide what residents need to build their self confidence and self esteem, and take up where crisis shelters leave off.
Erica Tavares, deputy director for development of Women for Women International, based in Washington D.C. showed a video portraying people displaced by war, 80 percent being women and children. Rape is used systematically as a weapon of war. Women for Women works with these women who have lost homes, families, everything to help them move from being a victim to a survivor to a citizen who is active in the reconstruction of her society. Women for Women believes that women are the glue that holds a nation together, and healing them physically and emotionally so that they can move forward with gusto and grace will heal the nation.
After our final speaker, Mara Sapon-Shevin asked the entire room of women to get up and create a circle. She taught us to sing “Oh what a lovely thing / If the people of the earth / Could live together / In peace” then we sang again, in rounds. It was a lovely send-off after an inspiring evening.
For detailed notes of the program, click here.