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Women's Issue 2018 

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Women of the Year: In Her Own Words

The Source's Women of the Year share their thoughts on whether we should have a "Year of the Woman," women they want to emulate and things they wish you knew about their work

Wendy Ayala

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Immigrant rights advocate, DACA recipient

"I was born in Mexico City, and then we moved to a small town in Chiapas for about five years and then we moved here.

was

I've gotten involved a lot with community service, within the immigration aspect of it, since I was in 7th grade. The first time I ever did any kind of talk was at a COCC auditorium, and it was just kind of asking questions of how this education system was working for me—and that included the ELL program and certain things that I've encountered here and there. And so that was the first time I ever got exposed to the idea of... that I was a lot different.

I'm the youngest out of five, and so we all... the last two are DACA recipients, and everybody else pretty much didn't have a status.

I graduated high school and was able to apply for a job and do this and do that, which was why I went to Seattle for a year to just explore... and I never really realized that my siblings didn't.

It's very interesting, which is a big reason why I've been just really active—I didn't realize how much it could do for me just to talk about me, essentially, in my life, and how to represent DACA recipients in the United States up in the capital. And for me it was quite a thing."

ON A WOMAN SHE'D LIKE TO EMULATE

"Definitely my mom. And I say this because she's always been a pretty active woman in the community, she actually was one of the first people who went in 2012—they did a bus touring from here all the way to Idaho and Washington. It was just, almost like they did rallies, they took, like, a whole week and would go to these rallies and a lot of it was an immigrant advocacy thing."

ON WHAT SOCIAL JUSTICE MEANS TO HER

"It's being able to have the pursuit of happiness, being able to have the freedom of deciding what to do and what not to do."

Stacey Witte

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Director of Homeless Outreach, First United Methodist Church

"I had run a program in Washington state, I was the director of case management and housing for a nonprofit there that worked with men that were experiencing homelessness. And it was kind of a right fit for me here; I stumbled upon a program that two women had started at Bend Methodist Church. And at that time, it was kind of a very small breakfast program for men women and families that were experiencing homelessness. They were at a point where they wanted to grow the program, but they didn't really have the expertise in working with the homeless and supportive services. And the church was open and willing and welcoming in having a program like that, especially being a downtown church, and so they brought me on board a little over a year ago. And what kind of started as a small pancake breakfast has now welcomed 130 to 170 men, women and families just one day a week, on Wednesdays.

That's a huge barrier, if you don't have an address, that you can receive any kind of correspondence, whether it's from family or hospitals, whether you need to be in contact with any kind of parole officers, probation, even things like food assistance, Social Security, disability.

We've grown a huge program and I think... a lot of that I've brought a lot of experience into this. I've been doing it 11 years, and our program is based on relationship, and it's a low barrier program and that means if you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or if you have a dog, you may come into the program and it's all behavior-based. And it's all about knowing people and having that trust, that relationship and having that conversation.

ON WHY SHE DOES WHAT SHE DOES

"I work full time, but it's not a full time paid, position. It's a 20-hour-a-week position, but you know when you're doing this kind of work it's a passion, and you don't... you know, pick up the phone and say I'm sorry that you're feeling suicidal, give me a call Monday. You do this because you're passionate.

I think that a lot of people talk about wanting to help other people. For me, it's the relationship that people that are experiencing homelessness are really not different than any of us."

ON WHAT SHE WISHES PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT HER WORK

"What I'd love people to know is, I've not been homeless myself, but I've partnered and journeyed with these folks, and I can't imagine what it's like to do what they do each day, and you cannot be a lazy person and do this, and there are a lot of barriers that we don't always consider, and so it's easy to say, why don't they just get a job, and there are so many barriers, and how do we address that and help people lift those barriers rather than continually keep putting more barriers in front of them."

ON WHAT SOCIAL JUSTICE MEANS TO HER

"Things that are messy are very uncomfortable for people, and I think social justice is really looking at the person and really being able to sit there and really being able to walk with them. Sometimes social justice is as simple as giving a hug or a handshake, or sitting with someone and just listening.

I don't want to isolate the need of a women's shelter, because there are just as many men that need a safe place, but I think that is something that I would just love to get across to city and county... our city is growing so fast that our infrastructure needs to catch up. And the idea that Bend is a tourist town or a resort town, and we don't have to address that we do have a population that is experiencing homelessness... we need to address it. And now's the time to do it before it's too big, and it's out of control."

Andria Lindsey

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Bend High School math teacher/International Baccalaureate Coordinator

National Milken Educator Award for the state of Oregon

"I just remember getting into the car after my first full day of teaching, and I was so excited and thinking this is definitely where I want to be, this is definitely what I want to do with my career.

I was going to school at night and I learned a lot of great techniques. One of the best pieces of advice that I've held onto all these years is, find the students that are giving you the most trouble in class and take interest in them. And so that's what I did, and the kids that were so difficult for me—I showed up with my kids at their tennis match and you know, watched what they were doing, and I had something to talk to them about in class and it really helped.

We moved up here in 2005 and I was really fortunate to find a teaching job at Bend High, and the rest is kind of history – wouldn't leave here for anything.

It (International Baccalaureate) has had an enormous impact on the academic culture, specifically at Bend High. We are seeing so many more students taking high level courses. And because of that I think they are just that much more prepared when they leave us.

ON THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING AMERICANS TODAY

"One of the classes I teach is called Theory of Knowledge. We look at how we take in knowledge every day, every second of every day. And because we have so many sources available to us, I think one of the things that we struggle with is where do we take in our information, and how do we consider it valid or true, and how do our own perspectives play into that. So, just trying to figure out who to listen to."

ON WHAT SOCIAL JUSTICE LOOKS LIKE TO HER

"Being a teacher, in my corner of the world, it's trying to give all the opportunities to succeed— opportunities to follow their dreams and different paths for them, regardless of what their background is—and that's really difficult to do, even just in a classroom setting."

ON HER GO-TO FOR SELF-CARE

"So believe it or not, I coach the equestrian team, which is a lot of work but it's a ton of fun, too. I love being with the kids and the horses—horses calm me every single day. When I'm out with horses I can't think about all the things on my to-do list, and I just have to pay attention to how the horse is moving and how the horse is feeling that day, and it really helps me let go of all the tension."

Lily Bernabe

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Immigrant rights advocate; DACA recipient

I am about to turn 22. I was born in Mexico—Guadalajara, Jalisco. I came to the U.S. at the age of 5—at least, that's what they tell me. I have been living here since then. All my schooling was done in the U.S., so, I am currently a medical interpreter. I am trying to become a court interpreter, although that is a little harder.

Throughout school I never had any race issue or racist comments, thank goodness. Then when I turned 16, they announced the DACA program, signed by Obama. It was probably one of the best things that has happened to me and almost a million people. It really changed my life because, before I didn't really have an opportunity. Without it I didn't really have any opportunity that I have now. Like going to school, paying in-state tuition, that helps a lot. Also, drivers license, Social Security number, which allows me to work.

It makes me sad to think what I would do without it or if Trump gets his way and leaves us without our protection or sends me down to a country that I don't remember."

ON WHAT SHE WISHES PEOPLE KNEW

"I wish people would know how hard it is to be in a country where it feels like you are not wanted. We are all human, we are all alike in a way. Different skin color but I really don't think that matters. I would really like people to know just because you are a different color, race or speak differently, look weird or whatever, they shouldn't treat you a different way or call you things like: 'illegal, alien...' You know, all those nasty words that they use to talk about us."

ON A WOMAN IN HISTORY SHE'D LIKE TO EMULATE

"(It would) probably be Harriet Tubman. I think it would be her. I think the things she did were fabulous things. Rosa Parks would be another. Fight for your rights, fight for who you are."

ON HER GO-TOS FOR SELF-CARE

"I like to go for runs. I live out in Deschutes River Woods and it is amazing. I like to volunteer. I volunteer as a medical interpreter at Volunteers in Medicine. I have been doing that for several years. I tried to stop doing it, but I can't, I just love it. I love reading. Knowledge is power. I also like to hang out with my friends—teenager stuff, ya know—going to the movies. I just like to be out there doing stuff, going to hikes, rock climbing."

ON HER HOPES FOR DACA

"For us to be accepted into this country as Americans. We have been here our whole lives. We didn't have a choice to come to this country. Most of us, for me, I love this country, I don't know any other country. Where I am from? This is where I am from."

Cheryl Howard

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Volunteer Coordinator, City of Bend

Community builder; Minister of wizardry and fuckery

"The city pretty much has a lot of departments where we are building infrastructure, storm water and streets, buildings. We have all of that. My focus is really building a social capital—how do we get people engaged in what we are doing and ambassadors of our own city where we have community buy in and engagement, not just staff, but other people who live here and really want to make a difference. I have the warmest, fuzziest job at the city. Nobody wants to yell at me."

ON A WOMAN IN HISTORY SHE'D LIKE TO EMULATE

"I mean, if we could just make, Ruth (Bader) Ginsberg immortal, that would be awesome. I love Katharine Hepburn—just bold and brazen, wearing slacks and doing her own thing in an era where women would know their place and were portrayed as ladies. And she certainly was, but I loved her sense of personality. I love that she had a doormat at her house that said, "Go away." This lovely, engaging woman who was so friendly and knew how to draw parameters and boundaries around her personal life and space. I always thought that was pretty outstanding."

ON HER GO-TOS FOR SELF-CARE

"Burning Man. I go every year. I run a camp."

ON WHETHER 2018 SHOULD BE THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN

"Every year is the year of the woman. We are always making advances, we have to move the ball. That we are in this era and we are having "Me, Too" movements, it's great, but the flip side is, it's this era and we are having "Me, Too" movements... like, really? My thought is every year is our year, every year is our opportunity to advance.

I think as women we need to do a lot more to lift each other up. We judge ourselves more harshly, I am guilty of it, too, I will look in the mirror, "Oh, my god. When did I get old?" Then the other side, why am I worrying about getting old? Why am I worrying about laugh lines around my eyes? I have laugh lines around my eyes because I laugh a lot.

There is something to being said when you are American women in this day and age, where we are among the luckiest women who have ever lived in the history of the world. There is something to be said about that, but we still have a long way to go. We need to build each other up."

Liliana Cabrera

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Community Education and Outreach Coordinator, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette

"I was a teen mom, and Planned Parenthood was the place that I went to when I took my pregnancy test. It was just a warm, welcoming environment. I didn't feel any pressure about any decision that I was needing to make. I was given information and supported. I chose to continue with my pregnancy, and knowing how my experience of being a teen parent and the way that I was treated and talked to, stereotyped, made me really passionate about coming back and doing the work—because the stigma and all of the things in society that are really negatively those are the things I didn't feel from Planned Parenthood.

And so when I started working for PP one of the programs that they had was teen success and it was for pregnant and parenting teen moms to encourage them to continue with high school and to pursue higher education."

ON WHAT SHE WISHES PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT HER WORK

"I think the biggest thing, the misperception out there is we only work with specific groups and young women and teens. And we—as far as myself—my mission is to get the word out to each individual about the agency that they have, and empower them to be able to make the decisions that are going to be meaningful in their own lives. In regard to their sexuality, their sexual health, their reproductive lives, their families and on that letting parents know that we are their ally; we are there to support them. These conversations are difficult and I think that a lot of times there is a concern that their youth are going to be doing things behind their back, but in actuality what we do in our education is to encourage them to seek out the adults that they can trust."

ON THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING AMERICANS RIGHT NOW

"When we have conversations about equity, about immigration, migration—all of those different things—if we were able to look at each other with compassion and understanding... I think the divisiveness that's occurring right now is a huge issue, because people want to have more of a last word and want to burn each other rather than building bridges and trying to find out what's going to be mutually beneficial for everyone."

Tricia Wilder

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Regional Health Center manager, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette

"I grew up, part time, in poverty, so when my mom left my dad after raising my brother and I, she didn't have a skill set that could lift her out of poverty at that time, and really, really struggled and had an unintended, unplanned pregnancy during that time. And I think, had she had greater access to birth control and education in that arena, her life could have been different and our lives could have been different—and that just really drove the idea that I wanted to be part of an organization that creates access, education, opportunities and choice for women as a means of lifting them out of poverty."

ON THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING AMERICANS RIGHT NOW

"I think I would just say two things: Time's up, and if any, if we're unhappy as Bendites, as Oregonians, as Americans, for what's happening in this country, we have to vote. You have to get out to vote to make a change."

ON WHAT SHE WISHES PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT HER WORK

"I'm always excited to share all the services that we offer that are not abortion care. I think a lot of people think about that small service that we offer, but here in Bend, in fact, we offer prenatal services at the health center. The first visit—which is an incredibly critical visit to set up the success of a pregnancy. We offer vasectomies—and a lot of people are surprised and shocked to hear that—by a top urologist here in town. We have recently launched into telehealth and we are hopeful that this will be a door to help us bring education and access into our rural communities here in Central Oregon."

ON A WOMAN IN HISTORY SHE'D LIKE TO EMULATE

"First is always my mom, because she taught me kindness. She died when I was 16—always hard for me—and then the other is probably Rosa Parks, because she looked for the right opportunity. She was a trained activist. She didn't sit that day on that bus on accident, and I think she reminds me to look for the opportunities and take them when you earn them."

ON WHAT SOCIAL JUSTICE MEANS TO HER

"Simply for me, it means equality. Equal voice. Equal participation. Equal access. And until we have that, I will continue to fight for those not supported within those constructs."

ON WHETHER THERE SHOULD BE A YEAR OF THE WOMAN

"Cecile Richards just spoke at the Women's March about how white women specifically need to rise up and support minority women as well. That even just within women there are many different groups that need to be supported, and right now a lot of minority women are leading the way, and it's time for white women to step up—and I really thought that was an incredible message coming from the (then) leader of Planned Parenthood."

Paulina Machi

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Case Manager, J Bar J Youth Services

"I currently work as a case manager for J Bar J Youth Services, and work with victims of crime of all ages throughout Eastern Oregon. Case management includes creating service plans that meet the immediate and long-term needs of survivors and their families. I am also a co-facilitator of the Central Oregon Neighbor Love Alliance, a group of 10 faith communities learning to walk in practical neighbor love through immigrant solidarity. As a larger community of local Dreamers, faith groups, justice organizations, and Latino and Anglo community members, we are working to create an Immigrant Solidarity Network to meet the current needs of our neighbors.

Growing up in an immediate family that immigrated from Central and South America, and Southern Europe, our home life culture was mostly different than what I experienced within my neighborhoods. In college, I focused my area of study to understanding the social cost of globalization, particularly in promoting drug trafficking, child soldiering and human trafficking throughout Latin America."

ON WHY SHE DOES WHAT SHE DOES

"I am hands down motivated by the goodness of people. Despite the craziness of the news and the heartaches of injustice, I have seen people from corners of the globe live with extreme resiliency, hope, kindness, compassion and impact."

ON THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING AMERICANS RIGHT NOW

"I'm going to do what I think would be most helpful: focus on what we can do in the face of many issues. I believe choosing to speak and embody unity and solidarity over division and hatred is single-handedly the most important thing we can do right now. There is so much rhetoric and speech circulating daily causing fear, exclusion and isolation. There is used language and proposed policy that is advancing power over dignity. I try to put my focus in what needs to be done for current and future generations to thrive—all people, of all colors and all walks of life."

ON A WOMAN IN HISTORY SHE'D LIKE TO EMULATE

"I am grateful to come from a long lineage of bold women. Both my Costa Rican and Sicilian grandmothers gave me this crazy passion, wisdom and hope to live life fully, to be grateful amidst the trials, and to always create space to share with and be impacted by others. My sister is a huge inspiration to me and my best friend."

ON WHAT SOCIAL JUSTICE LOOKS LIKE

"I believe social justice is anything that contributes to the restoration or wholeness of relationship—anything that gives dignity back to people and brings connection to community flourishing. It can be a conversation on a street corner or the women's march in town that moved 3,000 people. It is not just action. Action void of relationship is charity, not solidarity. Social justice ought to stir a movement of solidarity."

SHOULD 2018 BE THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN?

"Wellllll I believe that every year is the year of the woman, hah. That being said, to 2018, I say ladies, "RISE UP!"

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