Women History Month continues with look at powerful non-profit initatives that has roots in Los Angeles. Black Women for Wellness.
Black Women for Wellness started as a group of six women who were concerned with the health and well-being of black babies and teamed up with the Birthing Project as “sisterfriends” in 1994 to implement the Shangazi Program.
This grassroots program dedicated its’ time and mission to matching pregnant women with “sisterfriends” mentors who coached expecting mothers throughout their pregnancy until the child was at least a year old.
These mentorship experiences provided support systems to combat infant and maternal mortality rates. Within 4 years of implementation, BWW began moving upstream to address systems and political policy by becoming a California 501 (c) (3) nonprofit in 1997.
Black Women for Wellness celebrated our 20th anniversary in 2017, having grown from a volunteer group of women to a community institution.
Our budget has grown at a steady pace where we are now close to having an annual budget of approximately $1,900,000.00.
Standing on the rich history of the resilience and strength of our culture, we envision a future for Black women and girls where, in our full wellness, we use our power, beauty and intelligence, to pursue and attain healthy lives and families.
We build and sustain healthy communities and within them, empower other women and girls to improve their own well-being.
BWW works in Los Angeles County where over one million of all Southern California residents live. In addition, BWW services Stockton and Joaquin Valley in Northern California.
L.A. County has the largest number of African Americans in Southern California. (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 2016)
In addition, more than half of L.A .county residents are females, a large percentage of which are women of color. (Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc, 2006)
Women residing in SPA 6 are disproportionately impacted by health disparities that impact the African American community, including obesity and lack of health insurance.
Through various Black Women for Wellness programming, we serve youth ages 12 – 17, young adults ages 18 – 24, adults ages 25 – 65, and seniors ages 65+.
Black Women for Wellness believes in the strength and wisdom of our community and allies. We believe that we have the solutions, resources and responsibility to create the shifts and change needed to impact our health status. Each of us must develop our personal power, hold accountable and support acknowledged leadership, and most importantly, contribute to our survival and growth as a community.