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Archive for August, 2010

*Guest Post by Board Member, Julie Davidson-Gómez*


One of the leadership roles I most enjoy at Exhale is chairing our Fundraising Committee. This summer, I made a personal gift of $525, and personally have helped raise over $6,000 toward our goal of $15,000.

I want to share with you why I love to fundraise for Exhale.

This morning, as you read this, I’m honored to share a podium with four inspiring “Next Generation” leaders. CompassPoint invited me to share my Exhale board story at their annual Nonprofit Day Conference. They wanted to know what set Exhale’s board of directors apart from the status quo nonprofit board, and to hear how Exhale is Next Gen.

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My name is Erika Jackson and I have been a volunteer at Exhale for two-and-a-half years. I started as a talkline counselor and I’ve been a moderator in the Online Community since it launched last year.  I know how important Exhale is to the women we serve, which is why I just donated $50 to celebrate our 5th Anniversary of expanded service.

I’m writing to invite you join me by making your own contribution to Exhale today. We are just $2,000 away from reaching our $15,000 goal, and I know that with your donation, we will ge there by Tuesday, August 31st!  Every donation makes a big difference.

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In celebration of our 5th Anniversary of expanded service, Exhale is excited to present a very special award – our “Pro-Voice High-Five” – to five individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to creating a more supportive and respectful social climate for women who have had abortions.

Our “Pro-Voice High-Five” Awards go toooooo……(drumroll please)….:

I invite you to read the interviews of each of our awardees to learn more about their passion and commitment to creating something positive, purposeful and powerful for every woman who has experienced abortion.

Congratulations to all of our “Pro-Voice High-Five” Awardees!

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Yes, it’s true that abortion is stigmatized and that the voices of those who have had them are often hidden and neglected.  We rarely hear them in public discussion.  But that doesn’t mean that personal abortion stories are never shared. They are.  Lots of them.

To hear personal abortion stories, you have to be willing to listen and show up when, where and how a woman wants to be heard, on each woman’s terms.  You have to literally “meet her where she’s at” including the forums she chooses.

Despite the great risks that can come with sharing a personal story, thousands of women make this choice everyday.  A woman makes the choice – and faces the risk – every time she seeks support from her friends, faith, family or community.  She makes the choice and faces the risk when she picks up the phone and calls the Exhale talkline. Or she joins the online community.  Or she accepts abortion doula services.  Or she answers questions from a researcher.  Or she completes a digital storytelling workshop.   There are many stories to be told and many ways for a woman to tell hers.  However a woman chooses to share her story, she must be recognized and honored for her unique experience.

Exhale honors the Courage of every woman who has ever made the choice to share her story.

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For over eight years, Exhale has been a confidential listener to the stories  of thousands of women and men, after an abortion.  Yet, rarely are these voices heard in public discussion.  Thus, the evolution of our pro-voice agenda that aims to transform public dialogue so that it is grounded in the voices and experiences of people who have had abortions.

But, how do we go from confidential listening to public storytelling around abortion given the great risks women and men face if they share their story with abortion?

Enter our partnership with the Center for Digital Storytelling who is the leader on how to do storytelling around stigmatized or sensitive issues in ways that empower and support storytellers.  We were honored to learn from them in a recent digital storytelling workshop we held where women told their stories of listening and abortion.

We are honored to give a “Pro-Voice High-Five” to the Center for Digital Storytelling for Leadership.  I hope you enjoy my interview with its Executive Director, Joe Lambert, and the Director of their Silence Speaks program, Amy Hill.

Staff of the Center for Digital Storytelling

Aspen: Tell me about how the Center for Digital Storytelling came to exist and about your mission.

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Last year, Exhale made our case before the National Institutes of Health about the importance of research to promote the wellbeing of women who have abortions.  An often overlooked field of study that is incredibly difficult to fund, the wellbeing of women who have had abortions is generally not at the top of many research agenda’s, let alone on the agenda at all.  Enter the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) Program at the University of California, San Francisco led by Tracy Weitz.  Despite the great obstacles they face to find funding on this topic, they have taken the initiative to launch new investigations into the social and emotional aspects of abortion.

Exhale is honored to give a “Pro-Voice High-Five” to ANSIRH for New Research.  I hope you enjoy my interview with Kate Cockrill, the Project Director for Abortion and Stigma.

Kate Cockrill and Tracy Weitz

Aspen: What is ANSIRH? (more…)

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Historically, a doula is a person who provides emotional and physical support to a woman giving birth.  Her sole focus is to help the woman in labor – not the family or the medical staff – and to serve as her advocate, making sure she has the birth experience she wants and needs.  More recently, this idea is being expanded to encompass other pregnancy-related events, including abortion and adoption.  The people who are doing this work operate under the radical assumption that every woman deserves support and respect for her unique pregnancy experience.

Earlier this year, we interviewed Mary Mahoney of The Doula Project on our blog.  A completely volunteer run-and-operated organization, the Doula Project is providing abortion-doula services to women in New York City.

Exhale is honored to give The Doula Project a “Pro-Voice High-Five” for New Services.  I hope you enjoy my interview with Lauren Mitchell, their Board President, about how their service is changing the world and what else is needed to grow their impact.

Aspen: Tell me about The Doula Project and how it got started. (more…)

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