International Women's Day is always celebrated on March 8...that's this coming Monday. The specific date commemorates a march and strike by women garment workers in New York City in 1857. Now, it is celebrated all over the world. The day honors women's strengths and solidarity.

Because GAC is part of an international network of Clubhouses, we have always felt a special relationship to International Women's Day. We are encouraged to pay particular attention to GAC Women, the women whose efforts keep GAC going.

The GAC women profiled here evoke our appreciation and admiration every day.

In 1987, the U.S. Congress designated March as Women's History Month. Here are some of the women who are making history at GAC.
We honor the women of GAC and will be celebrating with them this coming
Monday, March 8, 2021, International Women's Day. We encourage our readers to reach out to the women who have made an impact on your life to express your appreciation for their efforts.
Nydia Torres (Lopez), a member since 2011, works in our Membership, Employment, & Education Unit.
"I am so glad that women have our own month. Because we work hard. I think that we have been overlooked and sometimes treated unfairly. GAC has played a major role in my life because of everyone's confidence in me. Now, I am working at a GAC Group Placement at Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church and going back to school to explore options.

Before GAC, I was so self-conscious. I was isolating and anti-social, I was really shy. GAC helped me open up and see that I can accomplish all my goals in life. I have two young daughters, I even had to learn how to be patient with them. I realize now that the relationships I developed at GAC helped me to be more open with my children and be the great mother I am today. The advice I'd give to my younger self is to never give up, because there were so many times I wanted to shut myself off from everyone but I learned that you need to stay connected to people and you need to have friends. I learned not to give up on people. You can find things in common with others that makes it much easier to go through life. When you are part of a community, you are not alone."
Helen Christus, a member since 2018, is part of our Business & Retail Management Unit.
"Learning about women's stories inspires me, which helps me to improve myself. I am so grateful for GAC and the opportunity to work, especially because I have so little work experience. Right now, I am working from Tuesday through Friday at our Water St. Boutique. I love it and that has led me to set a goal of working a Transitional Employment position within the next year.

Before GAC, I never could have imagined having this goal. Looking back on my life, I wish I had the confidence to tell a much younger version of myself to finish school, even if it meant taking just a few courses at a time. I'm 58 years old and I have just come to the realization that getting an education is very important to me--and I intend to take classes and learn."
Belinda Washington, a member since 2019, is part of our Culinary Unit.

"I was glad to find out that women have our own month! So many of us are mothers but also have to go out to work in order for us to get the things that keep our families and households going. It is nice for us to stand up and be acknowledged for the hard work that we do.

GAC has helped me become strong and independent. They reached out to me and have showed me compassion and love. Being here at GAC helped motivate me to work and now I am even more independent. I was so pleased that GAC chose me to work at a Transitional Employment position at Outpost Natural Foods, preparing the great food sold in the deli and washing dishes. That's a picture of me at work. My advice to all the women who are reading this is: Be strong and do not give up. Keep going."
Frances Holman, a member since 2019, is part of our Business & Retail Management Unit and is currently employed full-time at Colectivo's Troubadour Bakery.
"I absolutely think women deserve our own month! Women: we work, we rule, we rock, and we are truly the best! We are strong and we are independent. We help each other. Billie Holiday has been one of my biggest role models for many years now. She overcame so many of her own struggles and challenges as a woman. I can honestly say I admire her, and my hope is that others will say that one day about me.

There are no words that can express what GAC has done for me in my life. GAC has matured me into becoming an independent woman. GAC helped me build my self-esteem up. GAC uplifted me and encouraged me. I am the woman I am today because of GAC entering my life the way they did and at the time they did.

My advice to younger women is this: 'Stay in school. Surround yourself with positive people. Let God lead your footsteps and you be an independent, confident woman at all times!'"
Jenna Houillon, a graduate of the Helen Bader School of Social Work at UWM, did her field placement at GAC in 2016-2017. She joined our staff in 2017.
"There are many women who paved the way for me to be able to choose the life I want to live- and that deserves to be recognized. Many of the women here at GAC are pretty incredible, for a number of reasons, and people need to be reminded of that.

Working at GAC has shown me that I'm capable and that we can make a real difference in people's lives. During my (almost) 5 years here as a social work student, Culinary Unit staffer and now Culinary Unit Leader, I have learned how to be patient, which is something with which I often used to struggle. There are so many learning opportunities here at GAC. I am confident about what I do. I know I am respected by my colleagues I work with on a daily basis (most of whom happen to be men who are respectful and good colleagues) and I'm very grateful for that, because I know that isn't the case for all women. At 25, I'm still pretty young, but if I were to go back and say to 10 year old Jenna, "You're going to work at Grand Avenue Club and have the opportunity to do good things. Don't doubt yourself. And continue to speak up and say what you think."
Mary Heyrman, CPA, is the GAC Business Manager and has been working at GAC since December, 2019.
"To be honest, I didn't know that we women even had our own month until yesterday! I will just say that I do think it is important to recognize women's accomplishments. I know that many of us have had to overcome many obstacles. I am paying more attention to GAC's daily newsletter, The Source, to read about the women who have come before me and what they have accomplished.
Because I am a pretty religious person, I believe that people are here on Earth to help each other and love each other and serve each other, and I can see that happening daily here at GAC.

If I could have given myself advice when I was a much younger woman, I think I would have told myself to become more involved in serving other people at an earlier age. I am very glad that I work at GAC."
Barbara Davis, a member since 2017, is a member of the Business & Retail Management Unit.
"Yes, we definitely deserve to have an International Women's Day and a Women's History Month because we're the pillars of society!

GAC has instilled in me a positive attitude of how to interact with people more, because after becoming disabled and not able to work, I sort of withdrew and became an isolated introvert. I was not a happy person. GAC has helped my sanity and helped me to become more outgoing, more engaged, and more satisfied with my life.

I just turned 71. I have learned that life is a lesson. I advise other women to learn as you grow, but don't grow up too fast. I became a mother and wife very early in life and life took a bad turn for me. Get your education first so you don't have to go back and forth to learn what you should have learned during your teenage years and in your twenties. Most of all, if you do make mistakes, don't beat yourself up for those mistakes. Take care of things and move on. That way you will also move up!"

The Colleagues of Grand Avenue Club