2020 Empowering Women in Philanthropy Award Winner
Kristine Irwin, Founder
Charity: Voices of Hope
Interviewed by Dr. Shellie Hipsky
How are you inspiring lives?
Every day, I continue to support individuals who have experienced trauma, specifically those who have dealt with sexual violence, domestic violence, and abuse. I hope to spread encouragement to them every day, and help them heal through Voices of Hope’s Campaigns. We also provide resources so that survivors of trauma can find the best resource for them.
What inspired you to do this work that you have chosen to do?
I, unfortunately, was raped as a teenager. After a number of years of healing, I was able to shift my focus and work on healing others who have experienced trauma. This has helped in my own healing. This has also evolved since I founded my non-profit, Voices of Hope. The purpose in the beginning was to help me heal, but it has now shifted and we share other individual’s stories in hopes to help them heal. I grew up with parents who instilled in me the value of helping others. I only hope that by doing what I do, I can instill the same values in my own children.
Is there a story from your life that shows why this work is so important?
I never realized the importance of sharing my story, until I did share it and saw the outpouring of love and support I received. At the University of Delaware in 2006 when I first shared my story of being raped, I had a line of people come up to me afterwards and thank me, hug me, and express the utmost gratitude to me for sharing my story. Some even shared that they experienced something similar.
These acts truly showed me the importance of sharing my story and how sharing can be difficult but so healing at the same time. That is why I strive to help others share their story.
What do you want to tell the women of the world about why it is important to give back to their communities?
It is so important to give back to our communities because the fulfilled feeling you get when you do is unparalleled. It not only provides you with health benefits, but it is a great way to get to know your own community and the people that make it up.
What does it mean to you to be part of a Global Sisterhood?
It means the world, literally. It allows me to support, interact, and share experiences and struggles with others across the world. Having this open connection with others in the Global Sisterhood helps build valuable relationships and gives me a deeper sense of belonging.