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With the Loaves and Fishes Kid’s Corner in need of an upgrade, Timesha Conyers says the sisterhood of women volunteers is ready to help. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Timesha Conyers says that she’s a “community girl.” So she founded Fiercely Free to establish a community amongst women.
Timesha founded the group in 2014 when she was 17. She had just graduated from high school and was attending two different colleges while working on two internships.
“Through all of that, I saw that…I wanted to be community based because I was raised that way,” Timesha says.
Timesha wanted to find a way to bring about important change and she decided that women needed a way to develop a community of their own as sisters. Fiercely Free began as a yearly event for women of all age groups. The first meeting took eight months to plan.
“I saw guys bonding in all different ways but then you see a female look at another female funny and there’s not even a reason why,” she says. “The ladies need it.
“[It’s] a space where we actually address our struggles as females…and find the strength in it together versus standing against each other,” Timesha continues. “Only females can relate to a lot of the things we go through.”
Over time, Fiercely Free grew to meet monthly. In addition to talking about those issues that affect women, Fiercely Free teaches lessons that aren’t taught in school and hosts online seminars and question-and-answer sessions with experts.
Timesha, who recently moved to East Haven, says it was important to her that the organization be intergenerational. Often, she says, adults disregard the problems of younger girls.
“Fiercely Free broke that barrier for the first time in May 2014,” she says. “There was a young girl who was able to speak about how she was getting bullied…she was able to hear from older women who had been through it.”
Growing up, Timesha was able draw on the example set by her grandparents, who have been prominent in the church and their community. Now reaching out to the community is a huge part of what the Fiercely Free organization does.
“Fiercely Free is really a program that is not only about females and bettering ourselves as females but also bettering our community,” Timesha says.
Beyond their monthly meetings, Fiercely Free also takes on volunteer work as a group. Currently, members are helping Loaves and Fishes, a New Haven-based nonprofit that provides food and clothing for struggling and homeless people out of St. Paul and St. James Episcopal Church. Loaves and Fishes also has a Kids’ Corner where children can play and find books while their parents collect their food for the week.
“It’s beautiful because you don’t just get a plate of food on Saturday. It is literally that the Connecticut Food Bank and local community gardens come together and they donate masses of food,” Timesha says. “You get to walk through the food line and get all that you need.”
But the Kids’ Corner doesn’t have as much to offer the kids as it used to. It needs basic things like a bookshelf to help organize a new wave of books donated recently by New Haven Reads, classroom rugs, doll houses, baby dolls, and other toys.
“The moment that I did go to the Kids’ Corner is when I saw the need for everything to be redone,” Timesha says. “I knew that my team and my volunteers would love to do something like this…to just come in and be able to rewrite the narrative for the kids.”
So Fiercely Free made the Kids’ Corner its project. The group is seeking donations both in toys, books, money, and other items, but is also hoping to partner with a furniture company to help them furnish the area for kids. So far, they’ve attracted 250 donations in toys and clothes, but are looking for much more.
Timesha says she even interviewed some of the kids who use the corner to hear what they wanted to see change. Baby dolls and bookshelves topped the list.
Loaves and Fishes gave out 410 bags of groceries on its highest serving day in the first quarter of the year, serving a total of 4,015 bags in those three months.
“They are needed. Our community needs them,” Timesha says. “When you feed in such huge masses…you can’t attend to every single thing that is a part of something and that is what made me so passionate about doing the project.”
Timesha plans to set up donation days where people can bring monetary and other donations to the church. Those dates will be available on the Fiercely Free Facebook page.
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