In 2006, Sue Wieland and her husband John made a $1 million gift to AWF. That generosity continues to be honored with the annual Sue Wieland Embracing Possibility Award. The award is a special grant of $20,000 given annually to one of our grantee partner organizations. The selected organization demonstrates an outstanding ability to make a significant impact in the lives of women and girls through their ongoing work and by using an example of one individual that the organization sees as a shining example of their program.
The 2020 Sue Wieland Embracing Possibility Award winner is Community Advanced Practice Nurses (CAPN) and the shining example is Danielle Galloway.
CAPN’s mission is to strengthen the lives of persons who are medically underserved and to help interrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness for these individuals. The main clinic is located in a women and children’s emergency shelter in Northeast Atlanta in the Old Fourth Ward with outreach sites at eight other shelters across metro Atlanta. CAPN runs programs that include primary health care, family planning, STD screening, health education, and mental health services. The clinic provides referrals for specialized care in order to continue to monitor chronic health problems.
Community Advanced Practice Nurses is a partner in AWF’s Promoting Women and Girls’ Mental Health & Wellbeing Project.
My Story by Danielle Galloway*
Before contacting CAPN, my family was impoverished. We were living in a homeless shelter. My mother didn’t have a job or other financial resources. I was five years old and my brother was two years old. We experienced chronic homelessness throughout my adolescent years. If we moved to an apartment, we would still return to CAPN because my mother could not afford adequate healthcare, and the nurses at CAPN were who we knew we could trust.
CAPN was inside the shelter where my family and I resided. I became well acquainted with two staff members, Tanya who at the time was the Clinic Coordinator and Connie, a Nurse Practitioner. I felt safe being seen by them and we built a great relationship. The clinic also felt like a sort of haven. In there, I could dream.
CAPN was more than a clinic for me. It was a place I was allowed to dream. Connie, the founder of CAPN, is family. CAPN is where I first learned I wanted to go to college. I didn’t know what college was, but I knew I wanted to go. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to become a doctor. So, I would ask Connie many questions and play with the instruments. Connie is family to me, I call her Auntie Connie because she always made sure I was okay. In fact, she was the only nurse I trusted to give me shots. These were some of the best and worst moments of my life. Throughout these times, CAPN’s support went beyond healthcare.
During my high school career, I lived with other families to have some sense of stability. If I needed anything, I always returned to CAPN. It is also where I talked about my college, hopes, dreams, and fears. When I received a scholarship to Boston University, CAPN helped me secure a laptop by telling me about a Mayor’s youth program giving away laptops. The nurses at CAPN gifted me hundreds of dollars of assist with my move to Boston. I was able to buy the things I needed for my dorm.
How have these services improved my life is a hard question to answer because I can’t think of a way they haven’t. I was a bright-eyed five-year-old with my whole future ahead of me. CAPN has been there during my worst and my best times. They saved me. When I was around six years old, I got a nasty UTI. It was so bad; I had to wear a pull-up. I remember because I was peeing blood, and it felt like glass shards. My mother took me to several doctors, but ultimately we went back to CAPN. That was the worst moment of my life because I had a UTI due to molestation. My mother’s live-in boyfriend was putting his mouth in places they shouldn’t go. The UTI was treated and cured, but this part of my life was far from over. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember feeling safe when I was with Connie at CAPN.
Success. The definition of success is a person or thing that achieves desired outcomes or attains prosperity. I aimed to save my family from a vicious cycle of poverty and abuse. I aimed to attend college. I aimed to make those who believed in me as proud as can be.
If you would’ve told my five-year-old self, that I would move away from Atlanta to attend Boston University on a full-tuition scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I had a community around me that believed in me and my abilities.
When I was in high school, I promised two of my sisters they could come live with me once I was on my feet. During my last year of college, I moved my two sisters to Boston, as promised. Shortly after I received a call from my mother, they were facing homelessness again. I was living off-campus in an apartment because I had returned to school with my daughter the year before. In my junior year of college, I found myself pregnant. I was determined to finish school, no matter what. I told my mother she and the youngest two of my siblings could move to Boston to live with me if she agreed to help with my one-year-old while I finished my last year.
Fast-forward to 2020, my mother completed her GED, completed a CNA certification, and now works at two nursing homes. She has been in her same apartment for the last five years. She had section 8 at the beginning of her leasing, but now makes too much to qualify for assistance. She loves her job caring for elderly patients. The two sisters that came to live with me both graduated from High School. One joined the army reserves and attends community college. The other decided to go directly into the workforce while taking online classes. The two youngest siblings are also doing remarkably well; one graduated from high school a year ago and joined Americorps to work with the Boston Public School System to help students succeed. She starts her second year in a leadership role this month. The youngest is a sophomore in high school and is at the top of his class. He has his hopes set on attending MIT to study Biomedical engineering. I successfully saved my family from a vicious cycle of poverty, and now they work to give back to the communities around them.
As for me, I created an organization around mental health and community support for women of color. I have found my purpose in supporting young girls and women be kinder and gentler with themselves while creating community. There is a power in shared stories. My signature event is our dinner party series, Self-Love Supper. The supper is hosted a minimum of six times a year in multiple cities. This event gathers 45 women from different walks of life to inspire and celebrate and share their power in overcoming life’s obstacles. Each Supper gets bigger, increasing in audience size and people becoming aware of our mission. This has been a rewarding experience when I think of how far I’ve come and how I am able to use my testimony to impact other women. We are bonded together because we share similar experiences and triumphs on our journey to self-care and self-love. More importantly we break down barriers and walls keeping us from being kind, forgiving and loving to ourselves. We, as women, have needs that are important too. When I am in the room with these women, I am reminded of my purpose and I am grateful for all of my experiences. My ultimate goal is to create a Healing Conference tour that will be launched across the U.S.
It’s my life mission to be of service to disadvantaged communities and little girls that have lack the fundamental support, guidance and love needed to feel protected and confident in their abilities to be great. I aim to be a better me every day and I hope that I can inspire someone else to be their best self.
*Edited for length