Women's Information Network, Inc.

educating and empowering women

I would like to announce that WIN has received a scholarship that gives us the license to offer this program for a year.  We want to bring as many members of the community together as possible and bring the education coordinator for the iEmpathize organization to Rome to conduct the program.  Organizations can then apply for their own scholarship and licensure without the expense of individually bringing the education coordinator to their facility.  We hope to offer this program in May.  If you are interested, please contact me via e-mail.  baker8483@comcast.net    Read the program description from their web site that is printed below.  Let me know your thoughts.

  iEMPATHIZE:  Mission: We equip adults to empower youth to eradicate exploitation.

People often want to know how iEmpathize manages to get exploitation prevention programming in front of youth at schools and other youth-serving environments. It’s true that in less than two years, The Empower Youth Program  exploitation prevention resource – has been ordered for use in nineteen states. That’s one hundred orders serving more than 8,000 youth in schools, juvenile corrections, after-school programs, group homes, homeless outreach, faith communities, and more. So how do we get it out there?

The answer is simple: Through collaboration and relationship with people like you, who are concerned about the trend of exploitation that so many youth run up against each day. Your commitment to youth’s right to preventative strategies means that we aren’t relegated to only recovering and rehabilitating youth after they’ve already been exploited. We can help them before it gets that far. Teachers, parents, community leaders, legislators, victim advocates, law enforcement personnel, teenagers: the list of people who have engaged to bring program to communities around the U.S. is lengthy and profound.

Your commitment excites us! That’s why we’re always looking for ways to expand the ways we help you do what you do best. So in 2016, we launched Advocacy Workshops to help task forces, coalitions, human trafficking advocacy organizations, and other community-based empathizers get the resources you need to make advocating for prevention easier, more effective, and totally achievable.

In August, we brought an Advocacy Workshop to Tacoma, Washington through Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking. Thanks to the amazing work that FWCAT is already doing, they hosted two days of workshops for school personnel and other like-minded organizations to learn about The Empower Youth Program and advocacy strategies. The result is that The Empower Youth Program has now already been ordered for almost 3,000 youth and counting in the Tacoma/Seattle area!

We asked Brenda Shaw, co-founder of FWCAT to share what the Advocacy Workshop achieved for her community.

iEmpathize’s program, Empower Youth,  is a powerful tool to encourage empathy and empower youth and the community to demonstrate care for one another. It covers the subject of exploitation — from bullying to human trafficking.

Although the iEmpathize material is very user-friendly and easy to facilitate, our facilitators gained much greater understanding of the program by having their Education Director come to Seattle and share her passion and the vision of iEmpathize.  Her knowledge of the issue was valuable when sharing with those that might not have a clear understanding of human trafficking on a local and national level.

iEmpathize’s tips for facilitating the material were very valuable, but most importantly, they shared information that reinforced the program and the need for empathy and the ending of exploitation. The presentation is very engaging and their style draws people to share their experiences. They create an environment that allows open discussion among the group.

When we operate alone, we are limited. But through collaboration, the sky is the limit. As Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

While reading the Rome News Tribune several weeks ago, and then almost daily, I became very angry, then very sad.  Unfortunately, it convinced me that a project I am working on with the Women’s Information Network, Inc. (WIN) is even more urgent than I had originally thought.

What did I read?  First I came to an article that described the arrest of a middle school science teacher and girls’ soccer coach sentenced to 15 years in prison for sending pictures of his genitalia via Snapchat to 12 and 13 year old students in his class!  On the very next page was a story about a dentist in Polk County fined for sexual exploitation of a child. The investigation of his home found images classified as child pornography. This week another man was arrested for assaulting a young girl.

The relationship of pornography and child abuse and sexual trafficking are stunning!  The arrests that are occurring literally in our back yard make the problem undeniable.  Something must be done to open the eyes of the public at large and to protect our most vulnerable population of children. For us older individuals, the mysteries of computers—never mind “Snapchat” is foreign.  This MUST change!!! As the newspaper article reported, both criminals used technology for their crimes.

Well, you may think child pornography is bad, but it’s not that pervasive.  Oh, but it is. Sex trafficking is a $32 billion industry in the United States.  The demand for children for these productions begins in communities where our innocent or desperate girls are lured with promises of modeling careers, being taken care of, or being provided affection and protection.

This stage of recruitment is called “luring.”  It has been reported that runaways and homeless girls are picked up by traffickers within 48 hours of leaving home. If you are more affluent, don’t be secure.  Homecoming queens and “nice” neighborhoods are not immune.  Your mental image of a prostitute or pimp is probably quite outdated.

Sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime, second only to drug crimes.  It is less risky and more profitable.  Unlike drugs, once a girl is lured and “broken in,” she can be sold multiple times.  She has most likely been drugged, abused or beaten and is too ashamed and intimidated to report her captor—so there is little evidence for a conviction—like a bag of weed or crack pipe.

Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.  (Georgia Department of Education)  Our children are vulnerable because they trust people familiar to them, or develop “relationships” on line that convince them to take compromising pictures of themselves that will become used as “sextortion” or abduction.

There is a demand for sexual services and pornography by members of every community in this country.  There is a profit to be made and individuals willing to use others for their own benefit.    It is called “Modern Day Slavery.”

Prostitutes (now called victims in the Georgia code) do not have to walk the streets—they can be ordered on line and available within 30 minutes.  Those in the world of pornography and trafficking say it is as easy as ordering a pizza!

We as a community must come together to denounce sexual exploitation– much like the Mothers Against Drunk Driving condemns driving under the influence. Everyone must become aware of the risk factors, signs of trafficking and hot line numbers for reporting suspicious activity.  Your observation might just save a child from a life of humiliation and bondage. I have learned that whether individuals are actually sold, or used by a trusted member of the community, the negative effects last a lifetime.

WIN has been working for several months on learning more about this problem in order to develop an awareness program for the community at large and for middle school students in particular. Waiting until high school is too late—the average victim is now 11-13 years of age. Through my work with the Georgia Commission on Women and lobbying day at the capitol last week, I now have enough solid information and resources to start the process.  I need everyone’s help.

How?  Help us gather groups together for educational programs, provide places to hold classes, post billboards with hot line numbers, work with law enforcement to get the required hotline numbers and resources posted in all hotels, restaurants and public areas. Give us an opportunity to offer the iEmpathize program to our middle school children.  This is a prevention program I just received licensing to use for a year.  It is being utilized in 19 states.  For content details go to iEmpathize.org

Schedule an educational program for all your employees.  Delta airlines just educated 50,000 of their 80,000 employees to help identify victims because they are moved from state to state.  During the recent Superbowl sex trafficking sting, 522 “johns” and 30 pimps were arrested.

We are a large medical community.  National reports say 80-90% of victims come in contact with a health professional, but are not recognized as being a victim of trafficking. Detecting the warning signs and symptoms should be in the curricula for all health professionals and part of the required continuing education.

Everyone has a role to play—hair stylists, manicurists, hotel managers, mall managers, law enforcement etc.  The list is endless. These girls are “hidden in plain sight.” Learn what to look for.  If a behavior strikes you as suspicious, ask the simple question, “Are you safe?”  Keep the National Sex Trafficking Resources hotline handy and post it anywhere you can get permission to do so. The number is: 1-888-373-7888.   https://humantraffickinghotline.org

hour glassBy Sharon Baker, BSN, MN, CWHNP
President & Founder, Women’s Information Network, Inc.

This year I read a book entitled, “Being Mortal” by Dr. Atul Gwande.  I don’t remember who recommended it to me, but it articulated many of my observations, experiences, and feelings based on my decision to pursue a career in nursing.  When I was a 20 year old student, I was assigned to care for individuals with incurable diseases, unexpected injuries, or sudden death.  It didn’t take long for me to discard the invincibility mindset that is typical of younger people.  It made me a believer that death and dying is real and doesn’t always give a warning notice or only happen to the elderly.

Our society promotes denial of these realities by removing everyone except health care professionals from the unpleasant sights and chores associated with taking care of a deteriorating or expiring body.  I worked in a nursing home the last three years of my career.  This experience made it impossible to deny the many scenarios that can be present at the end of life.  For those outside the health field, the initial brush with death usually results from a health crisis within the family.  We are rudely awakened from our denial by a tsunami of issues that we have never contemplated.

We are unprepared for all the questions that haven’t been addressed and decisions that must be made while in crisis mode.  Now, we have to deal with the problem and want information, even if we are frightened of the subject matter.

If we are uncomfortable with someone else’s death, the thought of examining or preparing for our own death is too startling to consider. Unfortunately, this ostrich approach robs us of having any control on the setting where we will be treated, the type of care we might receive, or determination of our preferences regarding how intensive we want our treatment to be.  The legal and financial chaos our irresponsibility causes may take years to untangle.

So, I increasingly wonder why we are so reluctant to find an expert in end of life that would be the equivalent of a CPA to help us with our taxes. As the saying goes, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  Both are inevitable experiences.  To seek an expert to assist with our personal tax issues is considered intelligent.  Having an expert help guide us through the end of life paperwork and questions is avoided and almost viewed superstitiously as casting an unpleasant spell that will make our death more imminent.

Just try to have a conversation with someone about whether they have stated their preferences for their last days, or if their will or advance directives are completed.  This will quickly result in a change of topic.

So we remain a people uncomfortable talking about the subject of dying, even with those we love the most.  Being an informed patient, having all documentation in place and having it shared with relatives or our surrogate decision-makers prior to a crisis, can make our life and everyone else’s much less stressful.  It may be our greatest gift to our children.

We all know that in a matter of minutes the world as we know it can be shattered.  One phone call can confirm an incurable disease or notify that a loved one was killed in an automobile accident.  Yet we deny the fact that the mortality rate for EVERYONE is 100%.

If illness or death occurs in our circle of acquaintances, we frequently feel very uncomfortable about what to say or do. So, we frequently avoid them and say nothing.  This leaves our closest friends and relatives isolated and feeling lonely in a time of desperate need to talk about their deepest hurts and concerns.

I encourage everyone to “suck it up” and get the facts, paperwork, and skills to be a better decision-maker regarding their own critical life decisions and learn to be better communicators with all those individuals most dear to us. Come join The Women’s Information Network, Inc. on September 27, 2016 for our workshop entitled:  “Life:  The Final Chapter….Write Your Own Ending.” This seminar is designed to provide the documents that need completion, ways to communicate about this topic and resources in our community to provide assistance when needed.  For more information go to: infoforwomen.org   Registration is $20.  Students  $10.


By Sharon Baker, BSN, MN, CWHNP
President & Founder, Women’s Information Network, Inc.

More people in the baby boomer generation are reaching age 65 – some 10,000 a day until 2030 (Pew Research Center, 2010). I happen to be one of those this year. As usual, each milestone for my generation causes social change. The most recent to attract my attention is the book Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gwande. At first, I thought the primary reason for my interest was because of my occupation as a nurse practitioner, and how often I experienced the realities of Dr. Gwande’s book lived out in a nursing home where I worked prior to my retirement.

However, I soon learned that just like other previously unspoken topics, (think natural childbirth, fathers in the delivery room, menopause, sexual assault, etc.) my interest in death and dying is a trend. Boomers usually first get initiated into the end of life processes through the death of our parents or other family members. One thing gained from this experience is usually the certainty that we don’t want our last days to happen the same way. There are far too many loose ends.

When assuming responsibility for anyone during the end of life process, we are suddenly forced to realize how much we don’t know. For example: What legal/financial documents are needed or need completing? Where are they? What is the prognosis? What are the treatment options? How do I talk to someone who is dying? Where can I get help taking care of my loved one? How much will it cost? Does my insurance cover it?

Our society’s sanitation of dying and the discomfort with the topic has left us woefully unprepared for an event we know will inevitably occur. If we are sensible, we do not act like ostriches, but instead poke our heads out of the sand and explore this scary topic to learn the roadmap for what needs to be done before a crisis in our own life renders us unable to literally have a voice.

As with most issues of the boomers, we are not a passive group! Just as Lamaze classes taught us what to expect, more people realize that learning some details about an upcoming situation makes it less frightening. Having time to digest information and construct a personalized plan makes us calmer and feel more in control.

After reading Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gwande, I began to seriously look for tools to help me articulate and document how I would like my “Last Chapter” to be. To my delight, I’m finding workbooks that pose many questions and situations that have helped me write my wishes and enabled me to share them with my sons.

Probably the most important question for anyone is, “what happens when I die?” Knowledge of common fears, wishes, symbols, language, and behavior can help all of us to glimpse the important journey from this life to the afterlife.

I’m finding the stories helpful on a very practical level and reassuring on a spiritual level. Join WIN in learning the answers to the questions you have not yet thought about asking.

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, from 1 P.M – 5 P.M., The Women’s Information Network, Inc. is hosting an event called “Life: The Last Chapter – Write Your Own Ending.” The event will include a panel of speakers and workbook outlining the important documents needed for end of life decisions. Following the presentations, all speakers will be available for an informal question and answer session during a reception (reception is from 4-5 pm) with light refreshments.

Registration is required and the cost is $20.00. This fee includes the program and a workbook of materials. Call 706-506-2000 or e-mail baker8483@comcast.net to register. Visit here for more information and to register/pay online.


Twenty-five years ago, I was compelled and challenged to initiate a dialogue about menopause. Why you ask? I was entering that phase of life and so were many of my patients. There was much controversy about the risks and benefits of various regimens for treating symptoms and lots of jokes.  I set out to bring the national and local experts from a variety of the affected fields together to share the latest research and to answer questions from women in the audience.


Little did I know this project would lead me to form an organization called “The Women’s Information Network, Inc.” I had no idea that my vision would lead me to meet so many interesting women who would contribute their various talents to make my dream come true.


Many of you attended our workshops, seminars, and health fairs. I am now past the average age of menopause, 51 in this country. I am 65 and in the first year of retirement.  I have signed up for Medicare and am a card-carrying member of AARP.


The issues that concerned me in earlier years are still being debated, but based on new findings. I am still interested in those topics; but new ones have emerged.


So…..after a sabbatical from WIN program development due to the limitations of my various roles in the workforce, I am retired.  What fun!!  Now I have time to devote to working on WIN again.


That means none of you are safe! If I happen to run into you in town, I will most likely ask you to get involved with me in revitalizing the organization.


In fact, I am planning on having a reunion event for as many of the past contributing board members as I can find. Many women have asked me to do this or if I was still doing programs.  I think there is still a need for women to get together and I am looking forward to getting us together again.


If you have ideas for upcoming programs, please let me know. Right now, I am most interested in the issues of retirement –physical, emotional, financial and spiritual.  I have also been asked to initiate on a program for adolescent girls that discusses the physical, sexual, emotional and relationships with their mothers. Stay tuned for further updates and if you want to volunteer or have an idea, send it to me via e-mail:  baker8483@comcast.net

W.I.N. was formed to provide information on a variety of issues, including educating women about health issues, providing a forum for information exchange, determining women’s health needs and empowering them to seek holistic, individualized health care services.

Now 25 years later, W.I.N. holds seminars, lectures, and meetings for and about women’s health issues.  The Women’s Information Network, Inc. is a fully incorporated not-for-profit organization with a Board of Directors and Advisory Board.

The network’s Advisory Board has 17 members and consists of teachers, accountants, women in marketing, attorneys, nurses, retired persons, and many other professions.  The Board of Directors for 2016 are:

President Sharon Baker, R.N. M.N.
Vice President Amy Astin
Treasurer Ansley Rice
Secretary Regina Osirus
Executive Committee Member Miriam Peters
Board Member Laurie D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Board Member Donna Barnes
Board Member Susan Conradsen, Ph.D.
Board Member Dawn Karnes