By Karen Stokes
The concept of women supporting and helping each other is not new. It not only benefits the woman but benefits the community. Witnessing the struggles that women in Milwaukee are facing, Patience Phillips, a single parent, founded #SOS. The group was created to form a network of women to combine and share resources.
SOS is the International Morse code signal for distress and Phillips encourages women to send their “distress” signal to the group when they need help.
“Whether someone needs a ride, someone needs a babysitter, food, clothes, moral support, whatever, we use resources that we readily have available to help each other,” said Phillips.
When Delmonica Young, an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom, needed support after it was revealed that her son with special needs was being physically abused at school, Phillips was there to help. Young’s son, now 18 and diagnosed with Down Syndrome had been coming home with bruises for a while when another student in the class videotaped a teacher’s aid hitting Young’s son and showed it to his mother and she made it public. Needing support, to defend her son, Young reached out to Phillips on Facebook and she fully supported Young and stood with her as she faced the school board.
Phillips, a rapper and has an internet radio show, Patience Unleashed, explained that SOS means many things to the women in the group, “SOS also stands for Sisters of Survival, Sisters of Struggles, Sisters of Solidarity, Sisters of everything.”
#SOS launched only a month ago and already has nearly 200 members. They receive most of their members from Facebook and word of mouth. Their weekly meetings held at Coffee Makes You Black, 2803 N. Teutonia Ave., offers an emotional sanctuary to the women and allows the opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss issues that the women are presently facing and finding solutions.
The group welcomes all women. Phillips, who is African American, recalls a project her 7th grade nephew was assigned at school to defend the KKK, as if they were an attorney. Phillips told everyone she knew about the project and her disapproval of it. Women from different groups, of different races, including the Progressive Moms of Milwaukee reached out to her and offered support and resources. Many resources that she wasn’t aware existed. Phillips realized that every woman would benefit from this group.
“At that point I decided if this group is about resources, it is about all resources. I want every resource,” said Phillips. “Women need help.”
According to a 2016 National Women’s Law Center report, more than one in eight women, and more than 16.9 million, lived in poverty last year. Poverty rates were particularly high for families headed by single mothers — 1 in 3 (36.5 percent) lived in poverty. More than half of all poor children (56.2 percent) lived in female-headed families in 2015.
Networking organizations provide an environment for women to become fully aware of their power. Through support, women can then build their self-confidence. There is strength in numbers.
“We as women in this city need to show our power because we are the ones that have it,” said Phillips.
“We as women are the glue that binds it all, if we don’t stand together there is no hope for our youth or our future.”
For more information or to join, go to #SOS on Facebook