Creative survival, that’s what I call it, when African Americans struggled during times of low wages and high rents. It began in Harlem, so the story goes, when small gatherings of neighbors and friends came together in a community-like effort to pay next month’s bills. The earlier parties consisted of small gatherings where they passed the hat and listened to a couple of musicians who donated their time. Rent Parties, as they were called, document the struggles of the African American population while spreading jazz across American.
Rent Parties were not limited to the 1920s. They sprouted up during the great depression of the 1930s, during the current recession of 2009, and anytime people were in need. The parties became the perfect prescription for helping others while having a good time.
When politicians call for lowering taxes on the wealthy and cutting governmental programs, organizations like The Women’s Center will feel the pain. The Women’s Center, established in 1972, continues to provide services to the surrounding counties. In 2013, we assisted 141 children and 862 adults with 11,715 hours of domestic violence services, 6,713 nights of domestic violence and 5,413 nights of transitional housing, and 16,429 meals to residents in shelter. Public education, professional training, orders of protection, and hotline calls were provided as well. We have little debt and manage to show a respectable balance sheet. We manage our money wisely. But where we struggle is raising enough money to maintain a $1.3 million dollar budget. We receive our financial support from various federal, state, and private grants, and donations from you. While Governmental programs decrease we continue to deal with increased services.
This is not just our Women’s Center, this is your Women’s Center as well. A few of our donors have helped by throwing a Rent Party, with great success I might add. Our most recent host invited twenty-five people and received donations of $2,500 for the Center. Any size party helps the cause. A party of eight people collecting a total of $300 or three people sitting in a coffee shop donating $20 each, share their love as well. This is about helping the Center which has provided services for forty-three years.
There are no set rules for a Rent Party. Invite who and how many people you want. Supply refreshments or ask attendees to bring a dish, a bag of chips, or some drinks. We, at the Women’s Center, would send one or two people to explain our mission, and partake in the party. Call us and we can share some ideas that you might find appealing. Some say that societies will be judged by how they help the most unfortunate amongst us.
The Women’s Center
610 Thompson St.
Carbondale, Il 62901