Finding Common Ground

Growing Our Spaces for Women at Howard Brown

Howard Brown Health has been exploring a shared space for women to join together, build community, and discover their connectedness. That work has grown into the Common Ground workshops.

In 2016, Megan Hodgkins and Sam Forsythe, two Ryan White Part D case managers, saw an increasing need to create space for women living with HIV at Howard Brown. As they continued their work in the community, they noticed common barriers to care, and created a support group. The goal was to illustrate that the women we serve at Howard Brown come from every corner of the city, vary in age, some are mothers, and some of their histories began halfway across the globe. Yet, no matter their differences, they still need a space to gather, share dinner, and talk about their health.

Common Ground Provides Support in a Variety of Ways

The 2017 English speaking workshops will begin this July, and the Spanish-language workshops, Puntos en Común, will start in the coming year. Howard Brown is especially excited to open the group this year to all women, regardless of their HIV status. The first workshop, “Nutrition and Physical Health,” will be split into two sessions. The first part allows participants to cook their own meal while discussing age-inclusive nutrition.  The second part is a session on accessible aerobics. Later workshops will incorporate art therapy, immigration assistance and more.

Piecing Together Our Community

Common Ground began with the idea of a puzzle, each person representing a piece of the larger picture where commonalities align. Last year, the group’s members painted puzzle pieces depicting how they felt about their community. One participant shared what her puzzle piece meant. The middle was a black, pointy splotch surrounded by brighter streaks, and the edges were covered in bright, multi-colored dots. She explained that the black represented the way she felt back home and that the brighter lines were her move to Chicago, finding Howard Brown, and the birth of her child. The bright dots were how she felt in the present, building community with other women, discovering what healthy means to her, and gaining the confidence to continue her journey.

Flowers for Dreams is Your Way to Help Common Ground Thrive

During the month of June, Flowers for Dreams is donating 25% of their profits to Common Ground. Go ahead and celebrate Pride month with a beautiful, hand delivered, local bouquet of flowers knowing that it will be supporting Common Ground and its continued work with the Howard Brown Health community.

Support Common Ground today at Flowers for Dreams.

Interested in joining Common Ground? Email


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