Who is Leilani?
Leilani Miller is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Millennia Ministries, a Snohomish County-based organization dedicated to securing the stability of children. Over the years, Leilani has worked to expand her reach to women in need by serving as a pastor, as well as ministering in Africa, Canada, and all over the USA. Her service area has no limit. If she can meet a need, she will do it.
Driven by the belief that to stabilize children you have to stabilize families, Millennia Ministries housed over 400 women and families from 2005-2017. In 2009, Millennia Ministries began its relationship with YWCA Pathways for Women, working to provide section 8 vouchers to clients upon completion of the program. Through a holistic approach, Millennia Ministries works hard to meet needs and transform lives.
Why do you work with YWCA?
As a community partner, I appreciate our partnership because YW certainly makes the work a lot easier. It has been the best partnership for us because we desire the same things. From that standpoint, the leadership has been tremendously supportive and it has been a great relationship for us over the years.
Methods might be a little different but our focus is the same, empowering women and stabilizing a family. I’ve had a great relationship with all the case managers I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of them. The leadership has just been phenomenal.
Why is it important to have programs specifically for women?
Well, one really good reason is that they are the mothers of our future generations. Women are capable of doing many things. I think that we women, because of the unfair equity in our society, we have not necessarily been given equal open door chances.
It makes it really difficult for the children when the mom is overworked and can’t meet needs. We need to be able to take care of those children in an equitable way with other competitive members of our society, meaning men, because a lot of times single moms are the only support for their children. These programs help support women in becoming competitive candidates in the job market.
What has been your greatest achievement in working with women?
There's been so many but it all has to do with looking at stable, happy, fully functioning children that have grown up from these women and they're now contributing members of society, giving back and doing great things. When I look at the women that have gone through our program and that are doing great things, I'm like, “Yes!” Even if it's only a few out of hundreds, it is a purpose fulfilled. They can fulfill their destiny and watch their children grow and become who they're supposed to be because they've had a chance.
With our women that were in our houses, I never let them go to work. I told them while you have this opportunity, go ahead, use me, and use our resources, and I encouraged everybody to go to school. So, everybody did their counseling and they took their children to counseling but they attended a trade school. Whether it was Pima Medical Institute, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Everett Community College or Edmonds Community College, everybody attended a trade school and got a trade. It is so important to have organizations like Pathways for Women because they give women and their children an opportunity and a chance.
What does gender equity mean to you?
Since I was a young woman, it's always been important. Gender equity is not a new thing. We've been fighting for gender equity for many, many years. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. was about equity and not only equity for the Black man, but equity for all people. I think that there's been more focused on it lately but as a Black woman there's always been a focus on gender equity for me.
Opportunities shouldn't be given out just because someone is a white man. Just as I were to look for grants and different things like that, I deserve the same kind of inclusion as everybody else. I have daughters and I'm encouraging them to go into the corporate arena and demand the same kind of money as everybody else. If you're going to do the same kind of work and you know, we're going to do even more work, you definitely should have the same kind of money and the same kind of opportunity.
Gender equity is the thing that Black power women been talking about for generations because unfortunately we got the brunt of sexism. We did a lot of hard work and we were the least paid of everybody. African-American women suffered and a lot of times we were single parents raising our families and we just didn't have the resources and the opportunities that everybody else had. In this new millennium, we need to put a light under everybody's behinds and see that this is important. We need to say enough is enough.
What is men's role in gender equity?
Men have a big role to play. Men have typically gotten more opportunity and may not have had the same amount of struggle. They can open the door for their sisters and share in resources even if they have to use that same old adage: each one, reach one. Help their sisters or help that woman with equity in that office place or in the community. Wherever their sphere of influence is.
Who is a woman you admired growing up?
Harriet Tubman has always been my hero because she did incredible things. She was not going be told no. She was going do what she needed to do. I started reading about her when I was a little girl, and I always had a picture of her and a saying from her about shooting for the stars. She just did things that people didn't think she could do.
Maya Angelou has been a woman I have always, always admired. I read her books and I'm a great lover of her poetry and her whole vibe.
Of course, I do admire Michelle Obama. “When they go low, we go high.”
Shirley Chisholm was before her time running for president. Nina Simone, Angela Davis, and all of those folks. I’m an old school girl! Maybe the younger generation doesn't know this, how they really try to kill anybody that spoke up in those days. There was definitely no gender equity at that time.
I want to be like them in forging ahead, breaking out of the mold. Doing incredible things while bringing attention to the plight of others. Not just being in it for themselves, but also recognizing the struggle and being there as a mentor to encourage other women.
A Shout Out to “The Body”
I am going to give a shout out to The Body, our partnership with about 20 other churches. If Millennia Ministries didn't have The Body, there is no way we could do anything. People always want to know, “How are you getting people into housing?” I believe that God has special doors he opens for us but we say, “Hey, we answer to a different CEO.”
None of us are paid, we're all volunteers and that's the only source we have. I don't have this grant. I don't have that grant. We don't get any government funding. It's all through our church and personal relationships. If I need to put somebody in a hotel, I start calling my partnerships and they come to the rescue.
If you make a difference in one person's life then you've made a difference. Amidst Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, Millennia Ministries’ volunteers are continuing to provide support to the community. Help Millennia Ministries continue making differences by donating toilet paper and staple food items to be delivered to homebound individuals and seniors. Financial donations are also being accepted to help keep families housed during this time. Please contact Leilani at 425.259.3555 or firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate a donation.
Thank you to Leilani Miller and Millennia Ministries’ for being such an active and able community partner. We look forward to working more with this organization and together, empowering women.
Kendyl Hardy is the Volunteer Services Coordinator at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. As an avid volunteer herself, Kendyl finds volunteering is a way to grow personally and as a community. Kendyl graduated with a degree in Public Relations with a concentration in nonprofit management. Throughout her college career, she worked to highlight the importance of civic service to sustain society and feature dialogue about issues affecting our communities.
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