“When I look in the mirror, I see a mother and a wife and someone I am proud to be. I see an advocate. I see a survivor.”
On May 12 at 6 p.m., Elizabeth Smart will be honored with the 26th annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award presented by Womanspace, a non-profit organization based in Lawrenceville that serves individuals and families impacted by domestic and sexual assault.
Smart, a child abduction survivor whose kidnapping received national attention 20 years ago, is a child safety activist who has helped promote the National AMBER Alert Network Act of 2003, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, and other safety-related legislation. She is also the founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, a sexual assault prevention organization that has helped locate thousands of missing children.
“Not only has Elizabeth been through a horrifying trauma, but she is using her experiences to help other children and parents stay safe and learn how to focus on healing to move on to a rewarding life,” said Lauren Nazarian, the chief development officer at Womanspace. “This is strength personified, in my eyes.”
The event will be held alongside a silent auction contributed by local and national organizations – including Tacoria, the New York Jets, Rutgers Athletics, and 23 others – and will also include a 30-minute talk by Smart about her healing process, followed by a Q&A panel session moderated by Matthew Rhodes, the immediate past president of Womanspace.
“Her [Smart’s] story perfectly aligns with the mission of Womanspace, which is to work through past trauma and come out on the other side happier and emotionally healthier,” aid Nazarian said.
Founded by former Princeton Mayor Barbara Boggs Sigmund in 1977, Womanspace was founded to provide services for women in crisis. Serving over 400,000 clients, Womanspace provides bilingual services and programs including 24/7 crisis intervention, short-term emergency shelter, short and long-term transitional housing programs, individual counseling and therapeutic support groups, court advocacy, and a 24/7 crisis hotline, and operates the 24/7 New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline.
Smart will join the company of previous award winners including Cokie Roberts, Diane Sawyer and Minh Dang.
“I think sharing Elizabeth Smart’s story will inspire survivors and let them know that it’s OK, that they will get through it like she did,” said Nathalie Nelson, CEO and president of Womanspace. “When somebody comes to us, we want to help them heal and let them know that there is a life ahead of them where they can find love and know that they can be independent.”
Visit https://womanspace.org/barbara-boggs-sigmund-awards-2022/ to register for the event.