When discussing my vision and mission for the HERsay Podcast with a mentor of mine, she suggested I look into Brightstar Community, an organization helping women heal and transition from prostitution, for a feature. I promptly went to the website and signed up for the newsletter, and not long after I received an email announcement about the opening of Lisa’s House, Brightstar Community’s first home for women moving from life on the streets into a new chapter of independence and sobriety. I reached out to founder and CEO Sue Kirby and asked to learn more about Lisa’s House and her own personal journey creating this organization.
What struck me most about my conversation with Sue, and the subsequent interview we did for this week’s episode in our Callings series, was just how “normal” Sue is, in that she could easily be mistaken for your favorite aunt or the neighbor who brings over a casserole for your family when she hears you have the flu. But Sue is a woman who, in spite of appearances, has traveled a difficult path, from losing her mother at age 11, to challenges that led her to addiction, dropping out of school, and a series of subsequent “bad choices” and abusive relationships. But Sue was able to get herself out of this dark chapter, by entering a recovery program, getting her high school diploma, and using administrative skills she had learned at school to get a stable job where she could support herself.
While in recovery from her addiction, Sue met women who had arrived at the same place from a wide variety of circumstances - from incarceration, homelessness, to prostitution. Recognizing how lucky she was to get herself out of a bad situation, her “there but for the Grace of God go I” mindset manifested a vision for an organization that she would create to provide the time, security, and mental health resources to help women close one chapter and successfully launch into a new one.
The launch of Lisa’s House was not only the impetus for this week’s Callings, a series where we share the journey of inspiring women making a difference in our world, but we were also privileged to feature the first two residents of Lisa’ House in our Open Mic episode two weeks ago. These two brave women shared their first-hand accounts of life before, during, and after sex work, stories that are important for women everywhere to hear in order to better understand and support women from all walks of life. There but for the Grace of God go all of us. I encourage you to listen to both episodes when you have time, to raise your own awareness about how easily women get involved with drugs, alcohol, and prostitution, and what we can all do to help women rise up into a new life.
The HERsay Podcast is a platform for the voices of all women. New episodes post every Friday and are available on all podcast platforms.