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In August of 1996, the New York Times published an article about the obstacles that mothers on public assistance faced when seeking work, including the lack of appropriate interview clothing and the lack of self-confidence to present themselves professionally in an unfamiliar interview setting.

Around the same time, The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act – also known as The Welfare Reform Act – passed, radically transforming the nation’s welfare system by imposing a time limit on federal welfare benefits, further complicating women’s transition from public assistance into the workforce.

The founders of Bottomless Closet were watching, and they immediately identified a critical need and took action. Embodying the philosophy of women helping women, they set out to create a welcoming and uplifting place where women in need could receive the tools and resources they needed.

In 1999, Bottomless Closet became a reality.

Bottomless Closet’s mission is to be the connection that inspires and guides disadvantaged New York City women to enter the workforce and achieve success. From our grassroots beginnings, we have grown into an organization that has served nearly 40,000 women in need, amassed nearly 200 dedicated volunteers and 150 referral partners, and has had over 1,000 workshop attendees just last year.

As we look to the future, our founding principles of helping and empowering women in need still guide our daily work.

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The Sisters of Life are women who are in love with Love – Love incarnate, crucified, and Risen – and captivated by the truth of the beauty of every human person, created in God’s image and likeness.

We believe every person is valuable and sacred. We believe that every person is good, loved, unique and unrepeatable. We believe that every person’s life has deep meaning, purpose and worth. In fact, we give our lives for that truth.

Like other Catholic religious Sisters, we’ve made a decision to leave behind what the world offers to give our whole lives to God by professing vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. What does that mean? It means we don’t personally own anything – Jesus is our treasure. We don’t get married – Jesus is our one love. And we freely surrender to lives of obedience – Jesus is our one will. This sets us free to love in a universal way, and commit wholeheartedly to the mission Jesus entrusts as we live in community with one another.

And, as Sisters in love with life, we’ve also made another decision:

We vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life. As spiritual mothers living in the heart of the Church, we experience the threats to human dignity and life all the more deeply. We pray. We fast. We serve. Why? Because we want to uphold the dignity and worth of each person, created from and for God’s great love.

Entrusting ourselves completely to the Lord of Life, we commit our lives to the protection of human life and to the promotion of new life in Christ, acknowledging the goodness of every person, and sharing the gift of God’s abundant mercy with all those we meet. In this way, we seek to help reveal to each person their own innate goodness, the particular love God has for them, and invite them to something greater: a life of truth, joy, and hope.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease was founded in 1999 by three women, Nancy Loving, Jackie Markham, and Judy Mingram who had heart attacks while in their 40s and faced many obstacles, including misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and social isolation. These women, who lived respectively in Washington, DC, New York City, and Santa Ana, CA did not know each other at the time of their heart attacks. But they each shared a common experience about how little information or services were available for women with heart disease. To them, the issue seemed invisible within the women’s health care community.

It all began in 1998 when Jackie decided she wanted to start an organization to help women living with heart disease, which often went unrecognized, leading to serious consequences. Jackie told her friend Myrna Blyth, who had just launched More magazine, about how she felt and what she wanted to accomplish. Myrna assigned the story of women living with heart disease, which came to life though interviews with Jackie, Judy and Nancy.

As a result, Nancy, Jackie, and Judy connected and formed their own tiny support network. Their shared sense that more must be done to support women living with heart disease inspired the three women to reach out to the tens of thousands of other women who were facing the same challenges. And so, WomenHeart was created in 1999, the first – and still only – national patient-centered organization that would focus exclusively on women’s heart disease.

Under the leadership of co-founder and executive director, Nancy Loving, WomenHeart grew from a fledgling organization to one that can today highlight many accomplishments.  WomenHeart’s growth is a credit to the work of its committed Board of Directors, Scientific Advisory Council, volunteers, staff and corporate partners who spend countless hours advancing awareness of women’s heart health.  Now, in its 20th year, WomenHeart has successfully:

  • Developed the only national network of patient support groups across the country – nearly 100 in more than 30 states.
  • Trained more than 900 women heart disease survivors as community educators via the WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium in collaboration with Mayo Clinic.
  • Hosted bi-annual Advocacy Institute conferences to train women living with heart disease to be public policy advocates and form the basis of a grassroots policy movement.
  • Created the Red Bag of Courage® program placing educational information about women and heart disease directly into the hands of hundreds of thousands of women living with or at-risk for heart disease.
  • Held the first National Policy & Science Summit for women’s cardiovascular health.
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