LEWISTON — The Center for Wisdom’s Women, a weekday drop in center for women in downtown Lewiston, announces the next Wise and Strong Women Speak program to be held on Friday, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. The event, scheduled to mark International Women’s Day, is the third in a bi-annual series planned to celebrate remarkable women in the community.

Each program in the series features two women who in a public conversation share their memories and wisdom. The featured speakers this time are Rachel Desgrosseilliers and Rita Dube who have both led distinguished lives in the community. In their conversation, they will focus their reflections on the power of heritage.

Since 2004, Rachel Desgrosseilliers has been executive director of Museum L-A. In that role Desgrosseilliers is developing a new Museum of Work and Community for Lewiston-Auburn and surrounding communities. The museum tells the story of who we are as a people and challenges us to revisit the spirit of our amazing ancestors.

Museum L-A has won several regional and national awards for programs, exhibits and published materials and prides itself in being a “Museum Without Walls.” Desgrosseilliers also speaks nationally on a regular basis at the various Museum Associations in America.

Rita Dube recently retired as executive director of the Franco-American Heritage Center. As founder, she was instrumental in the development and restoration of the beautiful former St. Mary’s Church, transforming it into a state-of-the-art performance hall, a heritage museum, a learning center and a multi-purpose hall. It took 12 years to accomplish those results and $6 million in fundraising. The venue has become a true community asset and a source of pride for all, especially the Franco-American community.

Marguerite Stapleton will again host the evening. She has noted that “There are so many wise and strong women in this community. It is time to celebrate this fact and invite them to give voice to their stories.”

Stapleton has been involved in the community since 1977 and now offers resources in spirituality to individuals, groups and organizations through her consulting business, Wisdom Works. She was on the first board of directors for the women’s center. Anyone who knows her knows that she loves this community, its history and its people, and is passionate about women’s issues.

The Friday evening presentation is open to the public and will take place in the Center for Wisdom’s Women, between Pine and Ash streets, at 97 Blake St. in the extension in the back of Healy Terrace. There is limited parking on site. Use the street or the Park Street garage.

On Saturday evening, March 9, the women’s center this year is adding an additional event in honor of International Women’s Day. A gathering of women’s singing circles will offer a program called “Singing our Lives!” Featured groups are Women With Wings from Bangor and the Women’s Chorus from Brunswick. Each group will share several songs and also teach some for the gathered participants to sing together. Other women’s singing circles or individual female singer-songwriters are invited to come offer a song or two. The singing will be interspersed with poetry by and about women.

All are invited. No experience is needed, no reading of music required. Those who wish to perform a song should arrive early to sign up for a spot in the line-up. The event will take place at Trinity Episcopal Church, 247 Bates St. Doors open at 6 with the singing beginning at 7.

International Women’s Day, March 8, has been celebrated around the world for just over 100 years. It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday. For more information see www.internationalwomensday.com.

March is also designated as Women’s History Month. Klara Tammany, director of the Women’s Center, suggests that our formal histories have tended to leave out the stories of women and the impact they have made in the world, so often accomplished quietly and behind the scenes.

“At a time of great need, there now seems to be a spirit moving in the world, bringing women to the forefront of change and it is exciting to watch,” she said. “With these programs, we celebrate women in our own community who have made a difference. Come be inspired by word and song, and let your own light shine.”

Simple refreshments and beverages will be offered at both venues. There is no charge for either event, though donations are welcomed to support the center. For more information contact Tammany at 513-3922.

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