The Tennessean (Nashville) (02.07.12) - Thursday, February
The nonprofit W.O.M.E.N. supports women coping with HIV and
other diseases by providing food, clothing, shelter, and
additional services. The acronym stands for Women on
Maintaining Education and Nutrition; Catherine Wyatt-Morley,
who was diagnosed with HIV in 1994, is its founder.
Wyatt-Morley said that at the time of her diagnosis, very
little information about the disease addressed her
circumstances - namely, a married professional African-
American woman with three young children. "I didn't fit into
the criteria of what we Americans thought was HIV," she said.
Lacking support, she went into a spiral: Her church abandoned
her, her friends alienated her, and she and her husband split
up. "Everything that was precious to me was no longer part of
my life except my three children," she said. "All of my
friends, all my hopes, aspirations, everything. Gone."
This need for support drove Wyatt-Morley to start W.O.M.E.N.
She has since traveled extensively: At a meeting in
Switzerland, she shared her organization's story with
representatives from 68 nations. "To be able to travel the
world and give my opinion and recommendation and suggestions,
not only regarding HIV, but women's health and women's rights,
that's huge for me," she said.
Later this year, Wyatt-Morley will open W.O.M.E.N.'s House, a
residential facility that will offer a holistic approach to
care and services by using a behavioral research model. She
hopes the facility, which is outside Davidson County, can
house up to 18 women, with twice that number being assisted on
a day-to-day basis.
"My life far exceeds the expectations I would have set," noted