Maybe you have heard a little bit about this new group in the community called FAB. Maybe you've been curious but were not sure what to ask. Maybe you were not sure if you were welcome to just invite yourself. Well, here's your formal invitation to find out, ask more, and come join us. Because we are looking for a few new people to join our group!
So, what is FAB? Roughly two years ago, Blackburn Center received a grant from The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County’s group, The Visionaries, through their annual grant party. The purpose of the grant was to expand Blackburn Center’s outreach into the community, specifically among young professionals. As a young professional on Blackburn Center’s Board, I was approached by Executive Director Ann Emmerling to discuss what this term really means. Along with Blackburn Center volunteer and fellow young professional, Clare Dooley, we brainstormed how to create a group that would engage this audience. We wanted to be sure it had a positive impact on both Blackburn Center and the individuals attending. We agreed that although we were hoping to target a younger crowd, we did not want to limit our group with the label of “young professional” — a term that may unintentionally exclude people who might not define themselves as working in a professional role but could bring a lot to our outreach. And we found the term “young” to also be somewhat limiting. After all, isn't age just a number? With that in mind, we named our group Future Advocates of Blackburn (FAB), and the seeds of this fabulous new idea were planted.
We knew exactly what the group was NOT. But I'll be honest, we hadn't yet figured out what it WAS at the time. This group was:
Not going to be for fundraising;
Not going to be a burden on anyone's schedule;
Not going to have formal membership;
Not going to require a fee to join;
Not be a networking club;
Not going to have many rules.
But we did know that it WAS going to be.... a place for conversation about the important issues of the day related to Blackburn Center’s mission. We dreamed of a book club, a quiet gathering of friends at a coffee shop, or even a boisterous debate at a barber shop. It would be about conversation, debate, and perhaps even a few drinks and delicious snacks — like a scene from a movie, where everyone is passionate and engaged and having a lively discussion. Why couldn't FAB have the same endearing qualities? We could find interesting current topics related to gender violence, and invite a group of 10-15 young men and women together to have invigorating conversation about those issues, and how they affect our lives, peers, families, and children.
Our goal is to engage this group of people, then send them into our community armed with a toolbox full of progressive thoughts to share. In this way, we would spread knowledge and awareness about issues related to domestic and sexual violence, and that such education is a key step in ultimately ending gender violence. And so, with a few people talking in a room, we began. Two years later, our group has expanded quite organically through members inviting friends, business associates and acquaintances. We did not put labels, requirements, or rules on this group.
We invite you to join us, or tell someone else in your life about this group, and ask them to join us. Our past discussions have covered a wide range of topics, including how to engage more people in the Blackburn Center's mission to end gender violence, how media can hurt women and contribute to violence, celebrity status and the impact on rape/abuse accusations, and more. We meet at various locations in Greensburg every 2-3 months for no longer than 90 minutes. When we aren’t meeting in person, we carry on similar conversations in a private Facebook group, where we share articles and discuss topics of interest. We are a passionate, committed group, dedicated to social justice and to ending gender violence. If you are looking for a way to give back, why not join our group? The time commitment is small, but the potential rewards for our community are great. For information on how to join this FABulous group of people, please email us or ask to join our Facebook group.
NOTE: We invite conversation that is thoughtful and respectful. However, we have a general warning: if you are a victim of domestic or sexual violence, the topics discussed may be triggering to some survivors.
Autumn Stankay is the owner of Skysight Photography, a Greensburg studio that recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary. Through her business, she volunteers her photography services to local families in need as well as to Blackburn Center for events such as Walk A Mile In Her Shoes. Autumn is a current member/secretary of the Blackburn Center board, and one of the co-founders of FAB. Autumn is also the past president and current member of Rotary of Westmoreland County. She can be reached via her website.
Please note that the views expressed by guest bloggers represent their own personal views, and not necessarily those of Blackburn Center.