May 18, 2022, made five years for HWLF. Yay! 🤩🎉💗 What started as an organization to help its founders manage grief and pay tribute to their father has evolved into some of the greatest joys for the team in providing support to youth and families in need. We are incredibly thankful for each opportunity we were given to make a difference and for all of the philanthropic community that has supported us.
The pandemic for many has been illuminating, including the leadership at HWLF. We have several large projects on our radar that will need significant resources and strategic direction. We want to get this right and will be winding down many of our smaller programs so we can align our time and talent on those more extensive, more specialized projects.
On May 18, 2017, amidst grief and sadness, the children of Henry Williams started HWLF without much direction and a $100 bank deposit. And we have come so far! The leadership and Board of Directors know with a solid strategy, public and private support, and good energy from our ancestors, the next phase of this organization will be realized. #reset #realign #restart #reclaim #reignite #relaunch2024
April is National Poetry Month and something we really celebrate at HWLF. Our namesake loved poetry, and several of our Board and Team Members are poets. Some of our earliest programming, Modge Podge Poetry, Homeroom Poetry, and Eye Recite Presents, all have a foundation of poetry as a learning tool and permission slip to express yourself.
Some of our earliest programming, Modge Podge Poetry, Homeroom Poetry, and Eye Recite Presents, all have a foundation of poetry as a learning tool and permission slip to express yourself. We know and understand the power of poetry!
There are a few poetry events left before the month ends, and we at HWLF highly encourage you to attend one of these events if you can. Please consider supporting a poet, open mic, or poetry organization, as community-based poetry continues to be one of the most underfunded artistic art forms.
This year’s NPM poster features the words, “There’s a poem in this place” from poet Amanda Gorman’s poem, In This Place.
Every place and space that HWLF occupies will always be filled with poetic musings, dreams, and truth. As Poet Rita Dove shares, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful,” and HWLF will continue to use its voice to help shift power to the people.
There’s a poem in this place— in the footfalls in the halls in the quiet beat of the seats. It is here, at the curtain of day, where America writes a lyric you must whisper to say.
There’s a poem in this place— in the heavy grace, the lined face of this noble building, collections burned and reborn twice.
There’s a poem in Boston’s Copley Square where protest chants tear through the air like sheets of rain, where love of the many swallows hatred of the few.
There’s a poem in Charlottesville where tiki torches string a ring of flame tight round the wrist of night where men so white they gleam blue— seem like statues where men heap that long wax burning ever higher where Heather Heyer blooms forever in a meadow of resistance.
There’s a poem in the great sleeping giant of Lake Michigan, defiantly raising its big blue head to Milwaukee and Chicago— a poem begun long ago, blazed into frozen soil, strutting upward and aglow.
There’s a poem in Florida, in East Texas where streets swell into a nexus of rivers, cows afloat like mottled buoys in the brown, where courage is now so common that 23-year-old Jesus Contreras rescues people from floodwaters.
There’s a poem in Los Angeles yawning wide as the Pacific tide where a single mother swelters in a windowless classroom, teaching black and brown students in Watts to spell out their thoughts so her daughter might write this poem for you.
There’s a lyric in California where thousands of students march for blocks, undocumented and unafraid; where my friend Rosa finds the power to blossom in deadlock, her spirit the bedrock of her community. She knows hope is like a stubborn ship gripping a dock, a truth: that you can’t stop a dreamer or knock down a dream.
How could this not be her city su nación our country our America, our American lyric to write— a poem by the people, the poor, the Protestant, the Muslim, the Jew, the native, the immigrant, the black, the brown, the blind, the brave, the undocumented and undeterred, the woman, the man, the nonbinary, the white, the trans, the ally to all of the above and more?
Tyrants fear the poet. Now that we know it we can’t blow it. We owe it to show it not slow it although it hurts to sew it when the world skirts below it.
Hope— we must bestow it like a wick in the poet so it can grow, lit, bringing with it stories to rewrite— the story of a Texas city depleted but not defeated a history written that need not be repeated a nation composed but not yet completed.
There’s a poem in this place— a poem in America a poet in every American who rewrites this nation, who tells a story worthy of being told on this minnow of an earth to breathe hope into a palimpsest of time— a poet in every American who sees that our poem penned doesn’t mean our poem’s end.
There’s a place where this poem dwells— it is here, it is now, in the yellow song of dawn’s bell where we write an American lyric we are just beginning to tell.
In March of 2021, Henry Williams Love Foundation launched the Survivance Project supported by The Field Foundation of Illinois. The aim of the Survivance project was to capture stories 1 year after the pandemic from those who identify as African/African American, LatinX, Arab, Asian, or Native American. You can check those stories out at https://survivance.io. The oral tradition of storytelling is rooted deeply in many cultures and especially represented in the African Diaspora. The namesake for HWLF was an amazing storyteller himself.
In 2022, Survivance participated in Chicago’s Fillet of Solo Storytelling Conference and presented a series of stories; “Dear 21 Year Old Me: Reflections of Black Women in their 40’s to their 21-year-old selves.” The series was well received and has paved the way for other storytelling series to come as well as some upcoming conference presentations on storytelling. Stay Tuned!
Henry Williams Love Foundation (HWLF) is a 501c3 organization that provides short-term supportive services, advocacy, and policy support to youth and families in need. Our organization’s namesake, Henry Williams, lost his father at 9 years old and then his mother at 11 years old. Losing his parents at a very young age was devastating to Henry and his three siblings. As such, he always demonstrated the greatest capacity for love to those who experience such unplanned loss, unexpected needs, and require advocacy. That is the foundation this organization is built upon.
Join us for the inaugural Henry Williams Love Foundation Benefit Concert Dinner on Saturday, December 11, 2021 starting at 6pm at the Eta Creative Arts Center. Suggested donation is $25 where 100% of the proceeds will benefit the HWLF Emergency Services and Unplanned Loss Program.
The HWLF Emergency Services and Unexpected Loss Program provides direct financial support to over 50 families in Metropolitan Chicago each year who need a dose of love to help them through challenging times. But we need your help to continue helping others. COVID-19 has taken so much from so many and our requests for help far exceed our fund’s capacity.
We are so proud of all of the business participating in our Black Business Incubation program! Change is hard. Acquiring new knowledge and skills and then putting them into practice is hard. Staying consistent and committed to the vision is often hard. But all of this hard work will pay off and we hope you have seen the benefits from your participation and all the coaching.Open Enrollment for the next cohort for participants will open in April. Our pilot program was in Chicago and Lansing/Detroit. We are expanding to a city near you this summer. Keep following the HWLF FB Page and website for application release dates and new locations. #doingourpart #skillbuilding #strategy #fundraising #communicationskills #BlackHistoryMonth #blackbusinesses
One of the founding principles of HWLF is LOVE. It’s the third word in our name and representative of our organizational goal of creating more harmony, sharing wisdom, and increasing understanding. In 2020, we all had to pivot and demonstrate great resilience. More of the same will be required in 2021 and HWLF will do our best to continue demonstrating love to those in need of it. Wishing you peace, prosperity, and good health to all of you.
Due to COVID-19, Connected Through Hoops went virtual and created a series of videos featuring fathers and sons having life conversations and practicing basketball skills drills. The call-to-action is for fathers or father-adjacent men to gather the boys in your lives and watch the videos together, have conversations, and practice the skill drills. We are hopeful that more connections can be made through hoops, even in a pandemic. The fourth video features Pierre Pierce and his son Jaxson demonstrating some examples of mastering emotions.