A new women’s group at NCC Harmony House, dubbed “When Women Speak,” is providing an opportunity for discussion around a variety of topics that allow individuals to share their struggles and triumphs as they strive to become self-sufficient. “Life is not always up. You can be happy one day and depressed the next,” said Shakira Williams, one of the group members. During a recent Thursday night meeting, group facilitator Lisa Chavis, senior case manager at the 102-apartment transitional living facility, asked the women to talk about image—that is how they see themselves and how others see them because they are classified as “homeless.” “A lot of people, when they think of the homeless, think of bums, people sleeping in bus stations, people who are lazy. Nobody wants to be homeless,” said Briyanna Glenn, another Harmony House resident. Lisa Chavis, senior case manager at Harmony House, is seen here leading “When Women Speak,” a new group at Harmony House designed to empower women and help them move from dependency to selfsufficiency. Nakia Green, a Harmony House resident, talks about her hopes and dreams as depicted on her Vision Board. Several of the women also complained about being stereotyped by workers from government agencies, explaining they are often given a hard time when seeking assistance like Medicaid, the federal insurance program for the poor. “You have to look like you need it or you don’t get it,” said Christiane Wesley, who has two children, including an infant. A real moment of inspiration came when one of the group members, Nakia Green, pulled out her “Vision Board,” a cardboard display on which she depicted her hopes and dreams through words and pictures. One magazine cut-out represented home ownership. A family court judge was so inspired by the display and Green’s forward-looking attitude that he recently ruled in favor of reuniting the mother of eight with her children, which include an infant and a college student. “This gives them an opportunity to have a vision. It reminds them of what they want to do in life,” explained Katrice Kemp, an Essex County College social work student and Harmony House intern who recently introduced the Vision Board to the group with her daughter.