2012 Nonprofit Selection: Chicago Abortion Fund
One of the organizations that I’ll be raising funds for this year is the Chicago Abortion Fund.
In 2004 there was something called the March for Women’s Lives. It was an amazing experience and was the true beginning of my business. I started making bags with a portion of the funds being donated to organizations that funded reproductive rights of all varieties. It was an eye-opening and heart-opening experience. After the march ended and my donations were no longer being sent to raise scholarships for women to go to the march, I decided to look for a local organization to donate funds to.
I’d heard about the Chicago Abortion Fund and tried to contact it to determine how best to make a donation. My letter was never answered so I assumed the organization had died out and began donating to Planned Parenthood and other national reproductive rights organizations.
Because the world works in glorious ways, many months after the march a friend invited me to come join her at a fundraiser and launch party for CAF. Within a minute of walking in the door I met Gaylon Alcaraz (the new Executive Director at the time, she’s still there going strong) and I was invigorated. Gaylon is a force to be reckoned with, which is an important trait for someone who works in such a dangerous profession. But she’s fearless and she encourages that fearlessness.
So I was delighted and thrilled to see the focus of the organization change from being just a place that would raise funds for women to have abortions who couldn’t afford them. But an organization who would do that while teaching women how to prevent future pregnancy, how to care for themselves mentally, physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve been lucky to meet a few women who have been helped by the organization and their stories continue to make me cry. CAF is not the heartless “baby-killing” organization that the anti-choice organizations would like you to believe it is. It is an organization that supports and cares for the women who need their services in whatever way they need.
In whatever way they need. Gaylon and her team don’t go up to any woman and tell her what she needs to do. They ask her what she needs and then they provide and guide her through the steps to get there. And then, once they’ve gotten there, once they are stable and healthy and safe, Gaylon and her team are able to convince many of these women who have received funds and services to reach out to other women who are just like them and offer that same support.
And it is this step that so many direct-action non-profits are missing. And it is the step that is going to not only save this organization for a long time to come, but it is the step that is going to save an exponential number of women who go on to then save an exponential number of women. She’s teaching them to fish, to use a biblical analogy. And oh how they fish.
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