She’s Determined to Share Her Self-Care Platform to Help Restore Lives & Promote Purpose. Meet Founder & Director of Dignity for Divas, Nikki Gane-Butler
DfD conducts outreach and case management services to women who are experiencing homelessness as well as to women who are newly housed. We cultivate an ongoing relationship with women that starts with providing essential care supplies. From there, we perform client intake and housing assessments, determine what a woman’s immediate needs are, and connect her to emergency shelters, housing facilities, counseling, and medical services. DfD staff forward client information to service providers and act as a liaison ensuring women receive services.
Q: Tell us about the nonprofit Dignity for Divas, along with your position as Executive Director.
NGB: Dignity for Divas supports women in the Greater Seattle area and South Sound transition out of homelessness through a unique continuum of care. Through our self-care platform, we offer a low-barrier connection to unsheltered women ages 16-90yrs, who typically lack access to necessary hygiene products, mental health and medical care, and housing navigation services. We help to restore dignity to women living on the streets and hope to lead them back to a themselves. After my own experience with homelessness, I felt moved to help other women during a frightening and devastating time in their lives.
Q: How has “Dignity for Divas” made a difference and what impact do you still wish to see?
NGB: Since our start in 2012, we have supported more than 69,000 men, women and children experiencing homelessness. We are proud to say that 72% of our clients remain housed for over 2 years through our Welcome Home Program, which currently provides one year of full wrap around services ensuring our Divas maintain housing in 6 cities in the Greater Seattle area. Our goal is to expand our services to every city within Washington state and then nationwide.
Q: What is it you like to say to potential donors and volunteers?
NGB: Not only does homelessness damage a woman’s sense of dignity, it contributes to trauma, anxiety, depression, and isolation. Such stress makes it that much harder to work your way out of homelessness.
Our programming is designed to meet women where they are, whether homeless or recently housed. We provide them with essential care supplies, help them navigate housing services, connect them to resources, and provide them with a path to build job skills and life skills, so they can become financially and emotionally stable. We are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers and are working on a virtual volunteer program. Please reach out via our website!
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
NGB: I was convinced I would be travelling the world as an entertainer. At the time, I was a hip-hop dancer and touring with a well-known Rap artist and felt I was destined to perform on the Grammy’s one day.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
NGB: One of the life changing lessons I learned is that you must truly honor your path. It took me a very long time to look at my life journey as a step by step match to my current state of mind. You must work every day to understand why you move, think and make decisions and if you don’t life the results it’s time to pause , tell yourself the truth and allow the next path to present itself to you……and most importantly, don’t be afraid to take it!
Q: Do you have any advice you can share for those women who may want to pursue a career in the Nonprofit sector?
NGB: The best advice I can give is to learn the “Business of Giving.” If you truly want to succeed, you must dig your heels in deep and learn everything you can about your “heart work” - your mission depends on you having more than passion. Surround yourself with people who BELIEVE in your mission and never give up!
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
NGB: One of the hardest things for me was to tell my story…stand in front of someone who didn’t know me and share the darkest period in my life. Finding the courage to share that I was once homeless gave others the courage to share their story.
Q: What is one word of advice you can offer to young women who want to reach your level of success?
NGB: I look at every young woman as a true mirror to myself. Focus is the advice I would give them. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Just focus on your goals, your health, and your state of mind. Be fearless and never allow anyone to dim your light!
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
NGB: Maya Angelou has always in a lot of ways been my “Fairy God Mother.” Many times, when I did not have anyone to inspire me, I would read one of her poems and somehow find my way.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
NGB: I truly believe the challenges many women face today are the invisible barriers that tend to make us work so much harder to convince unbelievers that we are equipped to get the job done!
Q: If you could make one change to help women at work, what would it be?
NGB: I have worked many jobs in my lifetime and often felt so alone. There was no safe space to talk things out without worry of reprimand or privacy. When our facility “ The Diva Den” opens, I will ensure we have a free sacred space for all women to talk things out, meditate, quiet our minds from all the business of work, life, family and have time to connect with ourselves and others.
Five Things About Nikki Gane-Butler
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
I would have to say Louise Hay, motivational Author, and the Founder of Hay House. Her teachings have made a huge impact on my life.
2. What were you like in high school?
I was somewhat distant in High School. I moved around a lot so, unfortunately, I was not able to establish lasting relationships or engage in school activities.
3. If you were a superhero, what would your special powers be?
If I was a superhero my special power would be to remove hurt. Anytime someone was hurting or sad I would be able to wave my hand and wash the hurt away.
4. What app can’t you live without?
Calm. Taking those few minutes to pause has been life changing for me.
5. What simple pleasure makes you happy?
Going to the dog park with my husband and our two Boxers, Kingston, and Bentley