Georgia Highlands College counselor Joyce Darden-Atkins has always felt a calling to help women in need. Atkins recalls a time in her life when she worked for a battered women’s shelter. She says, “I was amazed at how rapidly the women grew as a result of the bounding experience and support they received from other women.” This inspired Atkins to start Woman-to-Woman at GHC.
Of the sixteen women who initially signed up with Atkins for Woman-to-Woman back in the fall semester of 2009, only one was present at the first meeting. Co-founder, Star-Asia Melendez, then a freshman at GHC, was the first member of W2W.
Melendez recalls waiting eagerly for an hour because she was excited to meet more women and start making a difference. She envisioned a group of women that could be a part of the solution instead of just complaining about the problem.
This inspired the organization to visit a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show in Atlanta, where they signed a petition and joined efforts to discourage texting while driving.
Melendez is no longer a student at GHC but continues to support the organization through various behind-the-scenes efforts.
The organization, members were determined to make a name for themselves. For two semesters only three members remained consistent. One of those members was Jureka Johnson, whose upbeat spirit and shining personality helped to keep the small group motivated and excited about the possibilities to come. In late fall of 2010, nearly a year after it began, W2W got its break when campus dean, Kirk Nooks, recognized the organization as an official registered student organization of GHC.
W2W has since grown and today enjoys a core membership upward of 15 to 20 women from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. According to the mission statement, W2W promotes pride in women’s individuality while seeking to enrich their academic, social and cultural experience.
Ashleigh Snyder, a long-standing member of W2W, has seen the group endure a lot and admires how the group has grown. Snyder recalls her first time coming to a W2W meeting and says, “I appreciated that they were not afraid to be themselves, everyone seemed very close and that meant a lot to me, and made me want to be a part of it.”
W2W puts a lot of their focus on the community. They recently took part in a march to the capital protest, where they joined in efforts to stop education budget cuts. Last semester, they collected and donated goods to The Perfect Hearts Battered Women’s Shelter. This semester they have teamed up with The Diana B. Harris Breast Cancer Foundation to raise money to help support the families of cancer patients.
W2W is more than just a support group. These women are passionate about helping each other to pursue and achieve their personal and organizational goals whether it is academically, socially or in their personal lives. This is one reason why Vice President Cynthia Bushway joined W2W. She also says that it motivates her to keep succeeding, and she is looking forward to helping the organization to continue to grow in a positive direction.
Atkins says words cannot express how proud she is of the women and the way in which W2W and the character of W2W has grown and continues to grow.