Fire Destroys Office of New Orleans-Based Organization, Arson Suspected
By Kellee Terrell
May 29, 2012
Another day, another attack on women.
Although small fires apparently had been set in at least four different places in the group's offices -- four rooms plus a bathroom and kitchen -- the damage was concentrated in one room. With the walls blistered in black bubbles and the ceiling partially destroyed, the fire had destroyed or heavily damaged nearly all the contents of Women With a Vision's outreach office.
Police are still looking for the person who may have done this.
Obviously, Deon was devastated. View video of her discussing the fire below:
WWAV was co-founded by Deon's mother and several other black women in 1991 as a social service organization "to promote wellness and disease prevention for women and their families living at or below the poverty line." It was created as a response to the lack of HIV prevention resources for women who were the most at risk: poor women, sex workers, women with substance abuse issues and transgender women.
Over the years, WWAV has helped hundreds of women, by doing outreach, distributing condoms and referring women to other services they may need, such as legal assistance and housing. WWAV also provides clothing for women to wear to interviews; hygiene supplies for women, men and children; HIV/AIDS testing; and food.
In 2011, WWAV and other advocates in Louisiana got a set of outdated crimes against humanity laws overturned. Under those laws, sex workers had to register as sex offenders for a maximum of 10 years and have the words "sex offender" printed on their photo identification cards. Last June, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law a bill that effectively moves prostitution convictions back to the level of a misdemeanor.
In a letter posted on WWAV, Deon goes into detail about the items that were ruined, all of which are critical to the work WWAV does in the community. She wrote:
Immediate Meeting Spaces for WWAV Events. We are in the process of finding a new permanent home, but also need immediate assistance with space. We have several coalition meetings that were to be held at the WWAV office next week, and our new micro-enterprise program is scheduled to launch early next week. New Orleans friends, do you have conference room space you can lend? Member programming will need to accommodate 10-15 people. Coalition events will bring together 20-25 people.
I never would have imagined that in 2012 someone could have so much hate and disregard that he or she could do something this heinous to an organization that does so much to help others. I take this attack personally not only because Deon is a colleague, but because she is also my friend.
Deon, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
You can donate to WWAV via its website.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.
Copyright © 2012 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
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