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Houston Breakthrough, July 1979 - August 1979
Page 17
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Houston Breakthrough, July 1979 - August 1979 - Page 17. July 1979 - August 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. April 25, 2015. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1537/show/1525.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(July 1979 - August 1979). Houston Breakthrough, July 1979 - August 1979 - Page 17. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1537/show/1525

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, July 1979 - August 1979 - Page 17, July 1979 - August 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed April 25, 2015, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1537/show/1525.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, July 1979 - August 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date July 1979 - August 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 28 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 17
File Name femin_201109_552ap.jpg
Transcript Women's center looks for a home by Sue Maney "What do you say to someone who has just given you $25,000?" asked Nikki Van Hightower. She was speaking to Ralph Waite, star of the TV series The Waltons, who had just announced that he was giving this large gift in memory of his sister, the late Joan Waite Hanlon, to help fund a women's center in Houston. "God, it was a lucky break," Van Hightower said. She is the executive director of the center. Waite called from Hollywood last spring and wanted to meet Joan's closest friends and coworkers. Waite simply said he wanted to talk about a way to carry on Joan's work in the women's movement, cut short by her unexpected death last January (see Breakthrough, February 1979). The group met in a conference room at the University of Houston in April. When Waite walked in, he settled back in his chair and gave his full attention to the group. Each took a turn talking about Joan and the many projects they shared together. Some spoke of their work with her in volunteerism, some recalled struggles they faced together in graduate school, some reminisced about Joan's political endeavors. Waite finally asked them to name one program that could not get funding from traditional sources. After proposing and discussing many worthwhile projects, they all agreed a women's center was needed—an actual building, a community center for women in Houston. "Okay, then," he said, "that's what we'll do. I'll send you $25,000 for capital funds." It was an emotional meeting. The women shared memories of Joan that brought both tears and laughter. Waite smiled, obviously touched by the occasion. "I hope that whatever comes in the future will be done so that Joan's name will be remembered for generations to come," one friend said. "She was a role- model for us all, she set a fast pace for us to keep, and she left a spirit that must linger." With some humor, Waite replied, "I can see you all won't be happy until Joan's name is up in neon lights in front of the center." funds since its inception in 1977 is impressive. Center director Nikki Van Hightower has pulled together many organizations, working toward the same goal. Results like the shelter for abused women, now beginning its second year, have clearly shown the effectiveness and purpose of the center. But there are limitations. Too many women and their children have to be turned away from the shelter each day. The current women's center, which is to represent all the women of this large city, is housed in a small office in the UT School of Public Health. One telephone line, usually jammed with calls, is the only access the women of Houston have to their center. The Houston Area Women's Center desperately needs more space, a large facility made up of offices, meeting rooms and some residential space. The purpose of the center and the energy behind it is personified by the purpose and energy of the woman-Joan Waite Hanlon. Joan Waite Hanlon was a political and social-change activist whose concerns touched all facets of life - women's rights, political participation, the rights of minorities. To her family, she was someone who spent many years as a suburban home- maker and mother of five children, then § went back to school at age 40, graduat- = ing with a M. S. W. magna cum laude, to \ begin a new life. To her brother, Ralph ~ Waite, she was "young and dynamic." £ To her friends she was energetic, generous to a fault, and possessed a sense of humor that would make light of the many trying times they faced together. "But she wasn't a saint," a friend cautioned. "Joan wouldn't want you to think she was a saint," she insisted, smiling. "What she was, thoughj" commented a close friend, "was a renewed person." She had been a suburban homemaker for many years who knew she had moved beyond that role. She needed more for her life. Her reentry into what her friend called "the outside world" began with an American Association of University * 'It became clear to me that a women's center would really be in the spirit of Joan's life." —Ralph Waite No neon lights, perhaps, but the group which became the board of directors of the Joan Waite Hanlon Foundation decided to raise capital funds for the Houston Area Women's Center and to name the center after Hanlon. The board, of which Waite is a special member, is called the Joan Waite Hanlon Houston Area Women's Center Foundation. With this substantial contribution, the search for a women's center facility began. An abused women's shelter already exists, but in a private location, for the safety of its occupants. The history of the Houston Area Women's Center may be short, but the work it has accomplished with limited Women (AAUW) workshop called Project Reentry. There she met other women starting a new life, a new career, women like herself, "retreads" as she called them. And that workshop—a meeting place for women at all stages in life-is the idea behind the women's center. "It is very important that the women of Houston have a place to go, to meet, to grow and develop," Waite said of the center. The gift, he said, is to women like his sister Joan. "When Joan went back to school 1 saw this incredible development of a human being from age 40 on," he said. "It was beautiful! It became clear to me," he said, "that a center would really be in the spirit of Joan's life." While spirits are high, fund-raising for the center's facility is just beginning. Additional donations have upped the working figure to over $50,000, which is not a large amount when applied towards the purchase of what may turn out to be a $1 million facility. "Friends of Joan's have come forth with generous donations, waiting for an opportunity to do something in her The center will also provide office and meeting space for other organizations. "I think the whole spirit, purpose and excitement of the center will come to life once we have a facility, a place to pull together all the information and activity going on with all the women's groups in Houston," said Adelyn Bernstein, president of the board of the Houston Area Women's Center. She has worked closely with WIRES,(Women's Information and Houston Area Women's Center president ADELYN BERNSTEIN (1) confers with executive director NIKKI VAN HIGHTOWER (r) in the center's one-room office. memory," said Hattie Thurlow, chair ot the foundation and a close friend of Joan's. "Our goal is $1 million. Once the campaign plan is under way, the next step is selling the women's center to the community to make it truly what it is intended to be—a community center, a women's center." Foundation board members have spent the summer in weekly brainstorming sessions for fund-raising ideas. Several projects are already developing: an August celebration in honor of Ralph Waite; fall workshops offered by women's organizations and women's businesses; a women's fair and a benefit concert for the center with Willie Nelson and his friends. "Nobody argues against fund-raising for a shelter for battered women," said Van Hightower. "At the same time, many of those who are supportive of a shelter for battered women aren't supportive of a women's center." Thurlow said: "Why do women need a place to meet together? I am asked this question often." She shook her head, a little weary. But her enthusiasm is infectious and the people she talks to find it easy to understand. She tells them that the women's center will be a comfortable place to share problems, to learn, to discuss ideas and solutions, and to make contact with other women. "I see it as a place for women to come and share struggles and successes— whether they are in a strong place in their lives or in a crisis situation. I talked to a woman the other day who had no preconceptions of what a women's center should be. She told me that in her experience, when women share their problems, their problems lessen; when they share their joys, those joys grow." Referral Service,) and Women in Action. "The other organizations can always use more space," she said. Phyllis Tucker, coordinator of the Women's Rights Coordinating Council, which is made up of 32 women's organizations, stated, "There are so many things going on with the different organizations but not enough direct communication flowing among them. In order to be more productive, we've got to become a more unified, organized force,and this would be possible with one women's center. My God, there are so many needs out there, so many things to be done." "Now the foundation faces a serious job," said Thurlow. "We hope it will be a continuing endeavor to give financial support to a women's center. We finally have a substantial gift to start us off and we must not let the dream die. We hope to have a center and continue to expand to include workshops, lectures, musical events and art exhibits. We also hope to fund scholarships for women like Joan," she added. In closing, Thurlow suggested that readers who believe in building a women's center and would like to invest their money or time in such a goal, should contact the foundation. "We need the cooperation and support of all sectors of the community," she said. "We would like to hear from you." Sue Maney is a journalism student from Ohio State University interning with The Ford Bend Mirror. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 17 JULY/AUGUST 1979