After teaching physical fitness classes at domestic violence shelters for years, Candace Vanice realized that the hardest thing for victims of domestic violence to recover is not their physical health, but their self-esteem.
Vanice, who taught on a volunteer basis, loved seeing the way exercise transformed many of the women on an emotional and mental level. She says, “They’d come into class sluggish and not wanting to be there, and then halfway through, they’d be bopping around with their friends—you could just see the lightness in their faces and what an improvement it made to their self-esteem.”
Inspired by a Landmark course that focuses on what it takes to make a difference in a community, Vanice wanted to offer other ways to build up these women and make a more lasting impact. A real estate broker by profession, Vanice decided to merge the empowerment of housing with the self-esteem boost provided by exercise and counseling programs. The result? SILK Empowered. SILK—which stands for strength, independence,
love, and knowledge—provides women with a pathway to independent living while also requiring that they participate in professional counseling or other programs to build their self-esteem.
“You can give someone every opportunity and throw freebies their way. It helps for a short period of time, but it doesn’t last. Believing in herself has to come first before a woman can stand on her own feet and raise a family,” Vanice says.