West Side group celebrates 15 years of service

August 27, 2015
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Sista’s of the Hood is celebrating 15 years of service in the Austin area.

Community members and supporters will gather tonight at Amberg Hall, 1140 N. Lamon, to raise funds for the West Side group’s “Her Story Untold” scholarship and honor women doing positive things in Austin.

Since 2000, Sista’s of the Hood has helped connect Austin residents with social service programs around the city.

“There was a gap in the providing of supportive services for individuals in the Austin area,” Barker said.

As a former state worker who racked up years of service at the local Department of Public Health office, Barker saw a need to expand services, especially to women.

This help has come in the form of a food pantry, a clothing closet that provides business attire to those seeking jobs and also providing supportive services to women who’ve been victims of domestic violence.

The organization continues to grow, focusing now on both men and women affected by the judicial system in an effort to help get their lives back on track by providing training on necessary employment skills, Barker said.

Another goal: to continue to create opportunities for women and men alike.

“We want to set up a Sista’s of the Hood community alliance,” Barker said. “If you have needs, you shouldn’t have to go all over town to get those needs met.”

The organization is interested in securing its own location in Austin, Barker said. For the past several years, Sista’s of the Hood has shared space and is currently located inside the Austin Resource Center, 501 N. Central Avenue.

Since the organization began in 2000, nearly 200 Austin residents have been assisted and put in contact with needed social services and programs, Barker said.

Tonight’s banquet will honor three women in the community, as well as raise money for a scholarship fund for aspiring female journalists enrolled in a college or university, Barker said.

The scholarship will be given to four women who are “having a struggle trying to get through,” Barker said.

The “Her Story Untold” scholarship was created to honor former “Sista of the Hood” member Mozella Gallaway, who died in 2012.

Gallaway – co-founder and president of The National Black Herstory Task Force, a nonprofit cultural and educational organization that chronicles the legacies and lives of women of African descent – helped develop Sista’s of the Hood in its beginning stages along with Barker.

Gallaway’s vision was to create a library where national black “herstory” would archive the accomplishments of unsung African people.

Details about how to apply for the scholarship are still being developed, Barker said, but the scholarship decisions are expected to be announced by December.

Donations made be made through GoFundMe. Money raised at tonight’s banquet will also go toward the scholarship fund, Barker said.

For more information email sistasofthehood312@gmail.com or call (773) 858-4453.

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