Alumni empower women through NGO

PHOTO COURTESY OF: THERESA EULTGEN (From left to right) Webster University alumni Theresa Eultgen, Jessica Hunt and Sarah Kelley with their drawn interpretations of their vaginas at the Venus Rising event, March 26 at Mad Art Gallery

(Webster Groves, MO, April 13, 2011) After graduating from Webster with a degree in sociology and a passion for women’s issues, Terrisa Eultgen, Sarah Kelly and Jessica Hunt said they found themselves unfulfilled with part-time jobs.  With few opportunities for them to apply their new skills, the three alums began to meet in their free time to discuss their interests.

“We all graduated from Webster as sociology majors,” said Kelly, who graduated last May along with Eultgen. “We got out and joined the service industry and were incredibly bored. I spent $80,000 at this school getting an education … I left and I didn’t know where to put it.”

That’s when they decided to create their own opportunity.

The three alums founded AlphaWom, a non-profit organization that, according to its mission statement, is “a platform for women and girls to liberate and empower themselves and each other by creating a strong female community that engenders discussion, education and activism.”

After talking about their ideas together last summer, they decided to form a group in the fall. To get their group off the ground, they hosted a fund-raising party in December and raised $2,000.  After receiving free legal representation from Washington University’s non-profit law clinic, AlphaWom was registered with Missouri as a non-profit organization in February.

“We thought real big real quick, once we realized the support we had,” Kelly said.

After gaining non-profit status, the focus of the organization now is to build a curriculum of information on women’s issues, including family, sexuality and relationships, sex and gender, women’s work, media, health and body, body image, feminist backlash and communication, communities and service.

“It is free feminist education that leads to empowerment and more understanding,” Eultgen said.

All three credit their time at Webster as the inspiration and driving force for their motivation to create the group.  After taking sociology and women’s studies classes here, they realized the education they had received is not available to everyone. Kelly said she owes her ideology and lifestyle to her Webster education.

“Webster is the reason this is happening,” Kelly said.  “It’s a good community here, a supportive one for us definitely.”
To date they have spoken at schools, including an all-boys school, which gave them a donation to support their mission, and appeared at events relating to women empowerment.  Last month at “Venus Envy, Venus Rising,” an art show to encourage women in the arts, AlphaWom put up a informational table and asked people to draw their vaginas.

“We had everyone from a two year-old girl to a sixty-year-old woman draw a vagina.” Hunt said.

Hunt said someday the group plans to see chapters of AlphaWom in high schools so the information AlphaWom provides is readily accessible for students.

“I would love it to be in every school with all these little ‘woms’ running around feeling good about their little ‘wom’ selves,” Eultgen said.

Although AlphaWom is not a source of income for its creators, Hunt and Kelly both agree they receive as much as they hope to give through their non-profit.

“I get through my week just knowing I have an AlphaWom meeting,” Hunt said. “The only thing that gets me through my bartending job is knowing I have something of substance to work on.”

In order to help with the workload the three take-on, they are now looking for interns to help take part in their work.
“It doesn’t really feel like work,” Kelly said. “It’s exciting. Yeah, we work forty hours a week, but I wouldn’t give this up.”

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