Cornerstone’s housing specialist, Marie, was recently honored with Violence Free Minnesota’s 2022 Advocate Inspire Award. Marie has worked with our housing program for the past 12 years, walking alongside each participant on their own unique journey. Congratulations to Marie on this well-deserved recognition!
Below is the nomination submitted on behalf of Marie:
With great enthusiasm, please accept the nomination of Marie for the Inspire Award. As a longtime advocate, she has been an inspiration to both the survivors she has touched through her work, as well as her colleagues within the movement.
Marie began her advocacy work in 1994 and joined Cornerstone in 2010. She has held the position as housing specialist, with work that has been specifically directed toward supporting survivors as they move forward to increase their safety and long-term economic security. She has provided supports to families in our transitional housing, including crisis and safety planning, financial literacy, resource advocacy, credit counseling, and goal planning. But, much more than the skills she brings to her advocacy work with participants, it is her gifts of spirit, heart, and core values that embody who she is and what she brings to all interactions. It’s this spirit and gift that is infectious to all those around her – and make her an amazing Economic Justice Advocate!
Marie is confident in her work. She readily will state, however, that her confidence has not been built from formal education. “It has been built on thoughtfully processing and welcoming growth opportunities, and then applying knowledge from life events to strengthen her work with families.” She fully articulates that as “advocates and service providers, we must acknowledge/know the barriers that will prevent us from being effective in our work – and we must be willing to talk about/confront/work on these things.” Marie takes these qualities to heart and lives them each and every day.
In the most difficult times, Marie only needs to reach to her own inspirational story and history. She has humbly shared her own life experiences. Chapters of her own personal life have included domestic violence, housing instability, family challenges, and a willingness to accept the help of others. She harnesses these experiences and utilizes them as strengths that enable her to inspire hope and healing in others on their emotional, spiritual, and economic path.
Marie understands the reality of many survivors – their trust has been violated and their dreams have often become nightmares. She walks in partnership with them to rebuild their life and restore new hope. She assists girls in becoming “confident cherished women and assists boys with becoming magnificent fathers.” She works to “undo the harm that has been caused and helps to repair the trauma they have endured.” She exudes respect, kindness, warmth and gratitude for each participant.
Marie cares deeply about everyone she works with and prioritizes supporting them in their journey. She consistently centers her participants and allows them to take the lead in creating their new future. She recognizes their strengths and not only helps them to see it for themselves, but then pushes them to utilize their strengths to see endless possibilities. Beyond supporting their own vision, Marie celebrates each of their accomplishments, every step of the way. When one of her participants was able to purchase their own home, Marie was there to celebrate with them. When a past participant reached out to share that her son was graduating from high school, Marie showed up to the graduation. She is a true partner in their journey.
Marie cherishes her Advocacy role and is grateful to be given so many opportunities to mutually learn and grow through her work with survivors. While there are many leaders in this movement, we can’t forget that the most important space is in those critical moments we are caring for survivors. For anyone who has met Marie, they know very quickly the feeling of care that is immediately delivered. She has a profound ability to be present, to show up fully, and to embrace anyone – regardless of their background, identity, or historical wounds. She knows their value and their worth. And we know Marie’s value and worth every day. It’s this gift that is the true inspiration.