The Martinez Street Womens Center, an upstart, East-by-Southeast Side nonprofit on South Hackberry Street, benefits the desperately underserved women in that community while providing a safe, educationally enriching oasis for their daughters. Founded in 1999 by a cadre of dedicated nurses fed up with the lack of health resources for low-income women, the Center moved to a new building in ’02 and has grown into a haven of safety and creativity. Community role models act as mentors in the “Promotoras” program, where women trained as community health workers counsel women about breast health, diabetes, nutrition, and parenting. Girls ages 9 to 14 write, design, and publish their own newspaper thorugh an innovative, summer-long day camp known as the Studio4FM Girls Empowerment Program. At the modest facilities young people find homework help and enrichment activities during the school year. Martinez Street also partners with Planned Parenthood to provide sex education. Staff and volunteers prioritize positive reinforcement, encouragement, and self-esteem building, always.
If the folks at the Martinez Street Womens’ center can’t help you, they will help you find somebody who can, referring clients to low-cost mental health resources, housing organizations, abuse crisis centers. All on a small budget.
“An event like the Bling-Bling Fling makes a huge impact,” says Joleen Garcia, the Center’s Executive Director. “We’re working through girls and women to improve the conditions of families and the community in general, and `any effort` that may seem small can make a big difference… and with the economy in this current state, we have a lot of families in great distress right now. We need Bling Bling this year more than ever.”