When it comes to community involvement, one of the perks of living in a city the size of Wheeling is that it can be easier to turn ideas into action. That’s exactly what happened when local artist Mindi Yarbrough had the idea to host a documentary screening for Women’s History Month. After a few text message exchanges and an email chain later, a free movie screening was planned with the help of a few local nonprofit organizations.
Yarbrough first learned of The Goddess Project several years ago when she was living in San Fancisco, CA – were the project began. “I found this project through their Kickstarter campaign and some other photography series they were a part of,” said Yarbrough. “Since then, I have been following the progress on the creation of their documentary.”
The focus of The Goddess Project was to document and share stories of women from across the United States, ranging from artists and mothers to healers, CEOs, engineers and scholars. The film was directed by Holli Rae and Sara Landas, who spent six months on the road having powerful conversations with women from all walks of life. The result of The Goddess Project was a powerful documentary that shares the collective experiences that women in our country face today.
This project spoke to Yarbrough, as the takeaways from the film align with her work as an artist. “Part of my artistic mission is to make, share and teach art in ways that will celebrate, empower and inspire my community. I felt that this documentary embodies the strength and courage that we can find in other women’s stories that may embolden us to make our own dream a reality.”
With an idea of a community documentary screening in mind, Yarbrough put the call out to other women in our community to see if collectively they could make it happen. Within minutes of sending a group message out, Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling was in!
“This film is exactly what we should be sharing with the community,” said Jones. “Our job at the YWCA Wheeling is to help women find their inspiration and this film is exactly that – Supporting each other to find their purpose.”
Wheeling Heritage was also happy to be a part of bringing this event to fruition. “This screening came together in about two days via an email chain with a handful of other engaged, driven women and women-led organizations, which I think is such a great metaphor for why this kind of programming is important,” said Betsy Sweeny, Director of Heritage Programming for Wheeling Heritage. “Women get things done, and when we’re empowered and uplifted, we can impact communities in a big way. Wheeling Heritage aims to promote that sort of revitalization not just during women’s history month, but year-round.”
Subscribe to Weelunk
Not long after Jones and Wheeling Heritage were on board, Tim Thompson, director of Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre and Cinema was brought into the conversation. He too was quick to jump at the opportunity.
“Being asked by the YWCA and Wheeling Heritage is all I needed to say yes. We are neighbors in Wheeling’s community and the best way to grow as a city is to work together. If we can find a date that works for the Towngate schedule to offer events like The Goddess Project, we will every time!” said Tim.
While many know Towngate Theatre as a community theatre, they also host regular film screenings. “Cinema is one of our many offerings to the community that is meant to enlighten people of what it is to be a human being. This documentary is exactly the genre of film that Towngate Theatre and Cinema is proud to be a part of,” Tim explains.
With the proper screening licensing secured, a space selected, and a date set, all of the pieces quickly fell into place. Now all that’s left is for folks like you to show up on Thursday, March 23! Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the documentary screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. Popcorn, soft drinks, beer and wine will be available for purchase at the concession stand.
This event is free and open to the public, but donations will be collected to benefit the YWCA Wheeling. “The funds raised through this event will help us offer more programming to the community,” said Jones. “We know that we can’t do this work alone. Everyone’s needs are different and it truly takes a village. There are thousands of women, children and men who benefit from our programs every year. We need your help!”
To learn more about how you can get involved with the YWCA Wheeling, visit YWCAWheeling.org or call 304-232-0511.
"I just hope to experience this documentary and message with as many local women as possible. To create a network of people who can connect, support, and collaborate to build beautiful ideas and projects while making a stronger, more vibrant community. I am hungry for stories and inspiration on how I can pursue my passion and I know others are too." - Mindi Yarbrough.
"My hope from this event is that we walk away feeling good and supporting each other more. Let's make a conscious decision to support one another." - Lori Jones, Executive Director for the YWCA Wheeling.
"I hope this film empowers the feminine voice and inspires all women to follow their dreams." Tim Thompson, Director of Performing Arts at Oglebay Institute's Towngate Theatre.
"Women get things done, and when we're empowered and uplifted, we can impact communities in a big way." - Betsy Sweeny, Director of Heritage Programming for Wheeling Heritage.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.