In honor of Women’s History Month, Nextdoor is celebrating women around the country who have played a critical role in building stronger communities. Although women are worthy of recognition all year round, March is a time to unite around women everywhere and recognize their unique contributions to American history and culture.
The following women went above and beyond to empower their neighbors and ensure everyone in their local community had a neighborhood to rely on.
Leslie M. | Sewing Hijabs, Not Hate
Sewing instructor Leslie was scrolling their Nextdoor when she came across a post about the Somali American Women Action Center, an organization formed by immigrant and refugee women in Minneapolis, MN. She soon learned that men typically dominate the sewing and tailoring businesses in Somali culture, so it was a big deal if a woman could learn to sew and offer a tailoring service. In an effort to break the cycle of poverty, Leslie decided to volunteer by teaching a sewing class each week to the Somali women. After meeting the women and learning more about Somali culture, together they launched a campaign called “Hijabs, not Hate,” aiming to raise awareness about what a hijab is and how to wear it. Leslie and the other volunteers often post on Nextdoor to collect donations for sewing machines, tools, and fabric. In fact, the response from their community was so overwhelming that they had to start limiting the amount of donations they could accept based on storage space! Ultimately, the organization strives to provide access to resources and the opportunity to build a skill set for Somali women to become self-sufficient. Leslie shares, “The most rewarding thing is seeing women who’ve lived through such hardship be proud of something they didn’t think they could do.”
Jane G. | Sonoma British Ladies Club
When Jane originally moved from England to Mill Valley, CA, she was able to find a great group of girlfriends in no time. However, when her kids grew up and she moved to Sonoma, CA, she found it much more difficult to find friends to meet for a cup of tea or a walk around the park. In an attempt to meet neighbors with a familiar background and similar interests, Jane posted on Nextdoor to see if there were any British women that would want to join a women’s group. The post spread rapidly and within days it was the talk of the town at the local supermarket. Today, Jane’s Nextdoor Group, the “Sonoma British Ladies Club”, consists of over 30 women of all ages who left England for various reasons and ended up together in Sonoma. They have a shared understanding of British humor, history, and culture and can comfort one another when feeling homesick.
Tiffany M. | Survivor Ventures
With a little help from her neighbors, Tiffany has dedicated her life to fighting human trafficking and positively impacting the lives of young women in Virginia. For many survivors of human trafficking, breaking free isn’t as easy as people often believe it to be. Human traffickers prey on single mothers, homeless youth, and other vulnerable populations, and hook them on a lucrative industry that is difficult to walk away from. In 2018, Tiffany began a nonprofit called Survivor Ventures that aims to provide human trafficking victims with support and resources needed to reach economic empowerment. The first step in escaping this vicious cycle was to help survivors find safe shelter, so Tiffany turned to her neighbors on Nextdoor for housing recommendations and donations, and was overwhelmed by the response. Dozens of neighbors offered suggestions and dropped off donations, and each interaction gave Tiffany an opportunity to educate her neighbors how they can support survivors of human trafficking. From just one Nextdoor post, Tiffany was able to furnish two full homes for survivors with an estimated $10,000 in donated furniture. “There is so much social capital out there,” shared Tiffany. “Our neighbors can help us overcome some of our biggest obstacles in life, and this was tremendous proof of that. There is something very special in knowing that your donations are helping someone recover.”
Sosi S. | Companionship
Sosi is a 76-year-old divorcée who lives in the West Village of New York City. In an effort to find companionship and support around her neighborhood, she posted on Nextdoor to see if any women her age would be interested in meeting up on a regular basis. To her surprise, her initial post received over 300 comments from eager neighbors! Shocked by the overwhelming response, Sosi began to organize small group meetings to encompass a variety of her neighbors’ interests: weekly wine chats, dinner at a local restaurant, support meetings to discuss personal concerns, attending cultural events around NYC, book clubs, and discussions of foreign cultures. The women now meet regularly to share life stories and wisdom and have in turn created a large support network for older women in New York.
Cynthia B. & Deborah O. | Waterside Wine Women
Disheartened and lonely after losing her best friend to cancer, Cynthia posted on Nextdoor to see if anyone would be open to building a new friendship. She suggested a women’s wine group – a no-pressure invitation to have a glass of wine, eat some dinner, and hangout with new girlfriends. Within 20 minutes of posting, she had over 200 ladies around Houston, TX who responded that they, too, were lonely and would love to meet new friends. Cynthia invited her neighbors to a meetup and the “Waterside Wine Women” group was born! The women range in age from their mid 30s to late 70s and have been meeting twice a month for over 2 years for activities such as winery tours, weekend getaways, and more. Due to the incredible response, Cynthia now helps other women in Houston create their own meetup groups to help cope with social isolation and loneliness. One of the members of the Waterside Wine Women, Deborah, was so inspired by the group that she wrote a book titled The Healing Power of Girlfriends.
Share your story of an inspiring woman in your neighborhood in the comments below!
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