A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
a post by Esther
Here at bonJOY, we have a special place in our hearts for restorative care programs. We love to highlight amazing work being done to support and serve women. Today, I want to put a spotlight on one organization that’s really rocking at keeping it simple yet impactful.
I was introduced to the folks who serve at Because Justice Matters (BJM) when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Texas. He works with the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) team based in San Francisco, and some of its members launched BJM’s first services back in 2008. Now that I live in San Francisco, a city where homelessness is very high resulting in high vulnerability, I was eager to do some digging and find out more about any local organizations serving women and young girls. BJM was the first one to pop into my mind.
To hear more, I sat down with Rachel, one of BJM’s interns, and got some great insight about what meaningful care for our sisters looks like. Here’s what I learned:
Because Justice Matters is a faith-based non-profit working in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, where they serve women and young girls who have experienced various degrees of exploitation, abuse, or isolation. Building a community where women and girls can feel supported, accepted, and acknowledged is the mission of BJM. It is about relationships and a cohesive community.
In 2008, founder Ruthie began forming relationships with women in the Tenderloin, the Mission, and in strip clubs along the North Beach area of San Francisco. She saw a hole in the services offered to these young women. With one of the staff members as a trained esthetician, BJM started “Nail Day” at a drop-in center in the Tenderloin hoping to create an opportunity just for women to come in, make connections, and get pampered. In 2012, BJM acquired “The Well,” a new space in the Tenderloin District where they could reach more women and foster deeper community.
50-75 women and girls walk through the BJM doors each week. Here’s what happens on a weekly basis at BJM:
SERVICES FOR WOMEN
- Nail Day. Women can get their nails done by a consistent group of volunteers. Snacks and beverages are provided, and there is also an art table set-up for women to be creative and express themselves while they wait. The impact of this weekly event is huge. Friendships begin between the staff, volunteers, and the women being served. “Many women who have come to Nail Day have stuck around and are regular attendees to our other events,” says Rachel.
- Alpha Group. A Bible study that is also an introduction to the Christian faith.
- Bravehearts. A trauma healing and recovery class facilitated by a licensed psychologist where the women work together toward the goal of forgiveness and reconciliation.
- Mother’s Brunch. Mothers of young children can enjoy a delicious hot meal and community with each other.
- Art for the Heart. This class integrates art therapy techniques with worship and prayer with the art forms of drawing, painting, and collaging.
SERVICES FOR GIRLS
- Dance classes. Each week, girls can attend a class in hip hop, ballet, or even an acting workshop. There are a number of classes for different age groups. While the girls are in class, their mothers can participate in tea time in the adjacent living space with the BJM staff.
- The Tribe. This is a dance class, mentorship program, and Bible study for some girls who have come to BJM dance classes regularly.
The #joyculture Factor :: Small Acts of Kindness, Big Impact
When I was listening to Rachel, I was reminded of something that I was constantly confronted with in my counseling program and in experiences as a domestic violence counselor: People need to be heard. It’s so obvious, but I think about when I’m having a really bad day and someone needs my attention, I’ve found that it’s not easy to truly listen to someone when things are rough for me. Then I imagine being homeless or living in an unstable home. I imagine that I’m someone who is never listened to by their own family. It’s essentially the same as being told, “You don’t matter.” Living through this on a daily basis would wound my soul and discourage my spirit; I would be a completely different person. In regards to the impact of Nail Day, Rachel said it so well:
“There’s something special that happens when someone can just sit with you, hold your hands, look into your eyes, and just make conversation – meaningful interaction and undivided attention for 40 minutes means a lot to these women.”
— Rachel, volunteer @ Because Justice Matters
Friends, I believe that part of living out justice is doing something as small as sitting with someone who is hurting and just having a conversation with her. Restoration and healing begin with sincere human interaction. No agendas and no judgments. The work of BJM proves that a little bit of time and effort to serve a sister goes a long way and can change the course of her life.
The service of BJM is so very much needed in San Francisco and is a prime example to follow for any organization or individual wanting to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.
What you can do to support BJM today: Let’s show these girls some love by helping them keep these awesome services going. It’s summer campaign time! BJM’s goal is to raise $40K by July 31. You can start supporting the staff by learning more about BJM and contributing to the summer campaign. And if you’re local to San Francisco, we encourage you to learn more about joining their rockstar team of volunteers. Send them some encouragement on Facebook and follow all the goodness they are whipping up. Seeing their work makes our hearts happy. We know it will make yours happy too.