Catching up with SisterReach in Tennessee

My mom called me over the weekend to ask about my method for finding these organizations last year since there are so many she’d never heard of. I explained that that was the point, honestly. From my time on the Walk San Francisco board, I have a penchant for small, but growing organizations that are enmeshed in doing the work and gain their accolades simply from showing up. SisterReach in Tennessee was one of the ones like that which stood out to me from last year, especially after learning of it in the context of an article about fighting for reproductive justice.

A big thanks to Cherisse A. Scott, Founder & CEO, for sharing in-depth updates and some images, about SisterReach’s 2017 journey. I hope you’ll join me in making a donation today.

What was your organization’s biggest win(s) in 2017?

INTERNAL: SisterReach quadrupled our budget allowing us to hire full time staffers at competitive wages. We are still working on affording healthcare for everyone, but we are almost there! We moved into our own office space! We had been co-locating for the last 3 years and bartering space before that.

REGIONAL: We also successfully rolled out our Deep South Regional Roundtable – a six state, black-led, regional policy group comprised of black leadership is various human rights sectors working together to achieve freedom for our collective bases. SisterReach leads this project in and we have recruited leadership from TX, AL, AR, MS and KY to join this effort.

STATE: We successfully rolled out our first Black Folks Day on the Hill. According to legislators, we had the largest delegation of Black constituents assembled at the state capitol in at least 10 years.

LOCAL: We assisted our local Planned Parenthood in keeping a very vital grant that directly supports some of SisterReach’s sex education and direct service work. As a black-woman led Reproductive Justice organization situated in a predominantly black city with some of the highest HIV rates in the country, we were able to highlight the racial implications of defunding PP and the impact it would have on Memphians. We also rolled out our RJ & Faith curriculum for faith communities and advocates looking to work with them. Look out for our national training tour next year!

What has been your organization’s biggest challenge(s) in 2017?

It is one thing to raise money. Then you have to onboard and do heavy implementation of the staff and programs with that money. That has been the single most challenging part of our work this year. Making sure each staffer is the right fit, and being willing to shift people around until they do fit takes incredible trust, patience, faith and discernment. That isn’t always achievable in a grant cycle.

Please share a story about one individual in your state who has truly made an impact this year who you’d like the rest of the world to know about.

We’d like to highlight Terri Lee-Johnson, former Health Educator at SisterReach, who left us earlier last year to hone in on her calling of working with black mothers in Memphis. Terri founded her organization this year, Birth Strides, which is designed to offer doula and midwifery services to low/no income adult and teen Black mothers. She of course is using the reproductive justice framework as the foundation of her work. That makes Birth Strides the second RJ organization in our state!!! We are excited to have trailblazed what is now the legacy of reproductive justice in the state of Tennessee! Congrats Terri!

Images courtesy of SisterReach

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