Written by Lindsay Gleason
*Content Warning: this article includes dialogue regarding sexual assault*
We first met PAVE, as we so often meet the people who inspire us in our Kawami community, when Rachel, their Outreach Director, bought some of our earrings! Last winter, we were given the opportunity to be a vendor for North Central College’s Women in Entrepreneurship Conference. We were able to attend sessions and learn from other amazing businesses as well as selling earrings to individuals attending the conference. One of those individuals who would stop by our table that day would be Rachel Mackinnon, a woman who was immediately drawn to Kawami’s work, and quickly shared her love for our earrings. A few days later, we received an email from Rachel sharing that she had been wearing her earrings around the office at work, and that her boss Angela absolutely adored them. Little did we know, this small connection at our table would lead to incredible opportunities for us, and even more incredibly, would allow us to learn about Angela Rose’s story, and the work of Rachel Mackinnon and PAVE: Promoting Awareness and Victim Empowerment.
In the 90s, Angela Rose was 17 years old. One evening, when shopping at Woodfield Mall, she experienced what many people think of as an unthinkable experience; she was kidnapped to be potentially trafficked and sexually abused. Thankfully, Angela was able to escape her captors, but she did not let the experience stay behind her. Angela dedicated the rest of her life to spreading awareness and empowering victims of sexual assault. On her college campus at University of Wisconsin, Angela created an organization to widen the impact of her work. Thus became PAVE: Promoting Awareness and Victim Empowerment.
PAVE is a 503c nonprofit whose mission is to shatter the silence of sexual violence. Their work includes promoting awareness and victim empowerment in k-12 schools, Hollywood, college campuses and military bases. Their work extends nationally and internationally, with college chapters expanding across the US, India, Canada and Australia. Currently, PAVE is developing a national resource hotline, through which they have connected with 150 organizations to provide holistic approaches to supporting and empowering survivors.
After connecting with PAVE at the Women in Entrepreneurship conference, we were contacted by them to be a part of an incredible event they were hosting; a fashion show designed to empower and support survivors by standing together as a community. The event functioned as a fundraiser for PAVE, and served to both support survivors and educate the community. We were honored to be a part of this event, as it was an amazing experience to see our earrings being used to empower survivors in the same way we see them empowering individuals on our campus and in our community. We could not think of a better way to demonstrate the spirit of Kawami. (You can take a throwback look to the event night here)
Rachel Mackinnon joined PAVE’s team last May as her own journey of activism and feminism drew her to the work that PAVE was doing. Shortly after, Rachel became the Outreach Director, and began supporting PAVE in their work for victim empowerment and awareness on a local and international level. We were given the opportunity to sit down with Rachel to chat with her about the work she does with PAVE. She shared that supporting survivors, connecting with them and supporting their journey is the thing that keeps her going. She is consistently grateful for the opportunity to connect with people, especially now given the circumstances of the world we are living in. She also shared that the work she does is not always easy, and that self care and boundaries are necessary for being able to navigate the complex systems and challenges that survivors face. She shared the painful truth that victims are not always believed, that they are oftentimes gaslit and bullied when speaking out about their experiences. While this reality is not an easy one to face, it is a reminder of the cruciality of PAVE’s work.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to support Angela, Rachel, and PAVE through the platform that we have here at Kawami Jewelry. Empowerment sits at the heart of who we are, and we are so inspired to see the work that PAVE is doing to empower individuals in our community and beyond.
If you are interested in being a part of the work PAVE is doing, you can connect with them on their website’s chat feature: https://www.shatteringthesilence.org
PAVE is currently looking for a team of fall interns, if you are interested in supporting that way you can reach out to Rachel Mackinnon at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or someone you know is in need of PAVE’s resources, you can visit their website, reach out via social media, or email Rachel at: email@example.com
You can follow what PAVE is up to on their instagram: @paveinfo