Mothers deserve more than a once-a-year holiday—especially moms who have endured hardships. That’s why Water & Wall sponsored a week-long 5k virtual charity run, spanning from Mother’s Day, May 9th through May 16th, in partnership with a charity near and dear to our heart: Providence House.
For more than 40 years, this Brooklyn-based non-profit has provided housing and other support measures to homeless, abused, and formerly incarcerated women. Providence House also assists women in the justice system who would otherwise be awaiting trial at Rikers Island—New York City’s main jail complex.
“It’s well documented that the conditions on Rikers are quite horrific,” explains Providence House executive director Danielle Minelli Pagnotta. “It’s traumatizing for the people there as well as their family members—particularly for children whose mothers are in custody.”
Providence House consequently seeks to diminish the approximately 280 women currently on Rikers through its transitional housing program, known as an “ATD”—”Alternative to Detention.”
With eight homes across Brooklyn and one in Westchester County, Providence House’s trauma-informed approach helps women prepare to navigate their lives after justice involvement or homelessness. This is achieved by helping them advance their education, cultivate job skills, and obtain the long-term employment needed to secure permanent housing.
“Many of these women have experienced severe trauma, including domestic violence or sexual assault,” notes Minelli Pagnotta. “We aim to provide care in a way that doesn’t cause further harm while empowering them to move forward in a stable and meaningful way.”
Coping Through Covid
Despite challenges brought forth by the Coronavirus pandemic, Providence House maintained its logistical operations with minimal disruption. However, social distancing mandates forced it to abandon the traditional in-person gatherings it relied on to generate significant chunks of its charitable donations. So, last year the organization pivoted to a virtual fundraising drive that ultimately inspired this year’s virtual 5k road race, letting participants run (or walk) in a geographically isolated manner in compliance with CDC guidelines.
“This was something new to us, but it had two main benefits,” asserts Minelli Pagnotta. “One was obviously our ability to raise money. But it also let us build in some physical activity and motivation with our staff and our residents. It’s just amazing what a little bit of sunshine and fresh air can do after the year we’ve had.”
A Natural Partnership
Like many of the best collaborations, the alliance between Water & Wall and Providence House emerged organically, building on the charity’s existing relationship with our creative director, Katie Colleary, who has done pro-bono work for Providence House for more than 10 years and who designed the logo for the race’s official T-shirt.
“Katie very willingly said ‘yes,’ when we asked for her help with the logo,” recalls Minelli Pagnotta. “And the agency took it a step further by becoming a sponsor to help underwrite the cost of the event, and forming their own team, inclusive of many staffers. For that, we’re forever grateful.”
The nearly $30,000 Providence House raised from the event will help hundreds of mothers and families over the coming weeks and months. Giving back to our communities has always been important to us and our employees, and it was great for everyone to come together for this fantastic event. To all who donated and lent their support, THANK YOU!!!
You can learn more about Providence House, as well as make a donation, at https://www.providencehouse.org/donate.