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Partner Spotlight: WomenShelter of Long Beach

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Community members prepare for WSLB's Candlelight Vigil during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Thanks to a generous grant from the JIB Fund Community Building Initiative, we were able to collaborate with our long-time shelter partner, WomenShelter of Long Beach (WSLB), to develop I CAN WE CAN as a community engagement resource for the domestic violence and sexual assault movements. Tatiana Séré, WSLB's Volunteer and Community Relations Coordinator, shares:

"The I CAN WE CAN project was absolutely incredible. It provided our agency, WomenShelter of Long Beach, an opportunity to actively engage community members in a new way.

"Through I CAN WE CAN, we were able to reach our surrounding communities and grow interest in learning more about domestic violence and teen dating violence using non-traditional methods. We brought this project to the SUMMER NIGHT LIGHTS program, using art to help eliminate the violence in our inner city parks.

"The project supported our agency’s goal of strengthening our outreach efforts. Education plays an integral role in the prevention and cessation of domestic violence. Intimate partner violence is not a topic typically discussed at home with one’s children. Coupling our DVAM awareness event, the Candlelight Vigil, with a socially engaged art workshop created a comfortable and safe space for parents to introduce this challenging subject. The post event also inspired many young adults to speak-up and stand-up against abuse. As we know, women ages 18-24, are most at-risk and at this event we witnessed many sorority sisters and fraternity brothers come together and in their own way become advocates for change. 

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Participants create an I CAN WE CAN hand at WSLB's Communiy Awareness Event

"The post event empowered our participants because each individual was able to make their pledge to stand up to violence through art. It truly felt as though a silent, but powerful, wave was created that evening. We believe that that those who attended left feeling more educated and connected to domestic violence and the population we serve. It was beautiful witnessing mothers, fathers, children, friends, sisters, brothers, college students, work groups and newcomers experience social justice through the arts provided by AWBW. It was magical energy.


"This project was also the initiation of our social media presence; prior to the project we did not actively utilize our social media. This project brought to light the need to use all mediums of social media; this is an extremely effective outreach tool. The forum of socially engaged art was a great platform for this because it allowed us to share and engage the community.

"Partnering in an annual I CAN WE CAN campaign would be a wonderful way for us to broaden our outreach efforts. Not only can we see incorporating the project into our October Awareness Campaign, we can also see ICWC as a day or month each year where individuals are asked to make their pledge to their community, school, loved ones and nation, and advocate for positive change, non-violence and social harmony."

Here are a select group of WSLB's I CAN WE CAN hands and stories:

I CAN Be a Strong, Confident Latina! by Giovanna Martinez

My I CAN helped me realize the strong attributes in myself, I went into the workshop feeling a bit defeated and tired. Personally I was going through some changes, but doing the I CAN workshop helped me. I remembered that I CAN be just me...

The Promise by Eydie Pasicel

I CAN create community and solidarity to stand against domestic violence. This affirmation was made from a desire to stay on the forefront of the Domestic Violence Movement. However, as many of us know, the journey at times has the sensation of a never-ending upward hill, and sometimes even the greatest efforts...

Heart to "Beat" by Mauricio Soto

I am reminded of how each of my I CAN hands is different from the rest in the way that they look as well as the message behind them. Looking at them again made me feel proud of what I have inside. Although it is very satisfying to work with the clients that we serve at WomenShelter, it can also be trying at times...

And Check by Mauricio Soto

When I look at my hand “I CAN VALIDATE,” I think of how easy it is to forget the phrase. I feel that for many, it is much easier to validate other people than to validate themselves. I can say that this is true for me at least. However, as I take a look back at this hand that I created I am reminded of not only the phrase...

I CAN Succeed by Jennifer

My I CAN was I CAN Succeed... I CAN graduate and walk on stage feeling accomplished, making all my loved ones proud, the people who truly believed in me that I was going to be able to do it. I CAN walk with my head up high knowing that I did not fail, but succeeded, and will keep aiming for success.

From a Box to the Stars

I am a survivor of domestic violence. Many do not know what this really means, they think it just involves getting beaten or a few bruises. In reality it encompasses many more aspects of our lives. When I lived with my ex-boyfriend, many of my liberties were taken away. At first he would just get upset when I did things...

Dreams by Glori

After completing my I CAN hand project, it has been constant reminder to me that I CAN overcome all obstacles in life; and that every day I receive abundance of goodness and love.

New Life

My I CAN was about starting a new life; I keep that message with me every day and remind myself that WE CAN always start over the next day.

To see all of WLSB's’s artwork and stories, click here.

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