Simmons students organize holiday market to fundraise for local Rape Crisis Center

From vending at the market and interviewing people involved, it is clear how much time, care, and effort was put into this event.


Jamie Perkins vendor table. Photo by Cara Loffredo.

Jamie Perkins, Staff Writer

The Jennifer Eckert Center for Leadership and Engagement (JECLE), partnered with Betsy’s Friends in the Violence Prevention and Educational Outreach Program (VPEO) to bring the Boston Women’s Market to Simmons on November 18, 2022. 

According to their website, Boston Women’s Market “isn’t just another market; it’s a place for you to shop with intention and amplify your voice in support of women-founded businesses and artists throughout New England.” 

The Simmons market was a multipurpose event providing students with an opportunity to sell art and an opportunity to shop. It also served as a fundraiser for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC.) The Center’s mission is “to end sexual violence through healing and social change” by providing an array of services to sexual violence survivors and educating the community. As a vendor at the market, an opportunity to sell my art was exciting enough, but being a part of a fundraiser for an incredibly important organization made it all the more special.   

Abigayle Post, a current senior and office assistant at the JCLE, came up with the event idea after going to a previous Boston Women’s Market at Time Out Market. She asked Julia Wilen, a current junior and the event coordinator for Betsy’s Friends, to collaborate for the market. In addition to their roles in the community, Wilen is a friend of mine and it was great to see them in her element!

Post was involved in Betsy’s Friends her freshman year and says it still holds a special place in her heart, adding how she thinks the pandemic impacted student awareness. “I really wanted to bring a very important and special group back to the forefront of the Simmons University consciousness,” said Post in an interview conducted on Zoom.

My freshman year at Simmons was completely online due to the pandemic. In testament to Post’s statement, I was unaware of the various groups on campus. Student and community organizations fell to the background when Simmons transitioned to online learning. When we resumed in person classes last year, it took me some time to learn about all of the clubs and organizations. Events such as this market are a great way for organizations to reintroduce themselves to students. 

I learned about the market through a Betsy’s Friends email. It seemed like a great opportunity to start selling my art again, something I enjoyed doing this past summer. I make analog collages with vintage magazines from the 1950s to the 1980s. Per my Instagram handle, @surrealist.surroundings, I enjoy combining clippings that do not seem to go together. For example, one of my favorite collages depicts a woman snorkeling in a coffee mug, with young children digging in the sand below. 

As students visited my table, I gave them stickers to fill out a bingo card with. Some of the squares read “ask the vendor about their business” or “find a piece of art that speaks to you”. One person spent 15 minutes asking me about my collages. Although it was for the sticker, nobody has ever asked me such deep questions and it forced me to think critically about my own art! Once shoppers got a bingo and made any monetary donation to BARCC, they were entered into a raffle for items that the Boston Women’s Market vendors donated. In total, the market raised $163 for BARCC. 

Wilen thinks that once off-campus, it is important for students to know about community support outside of Simmons in the greater Boston area. Although Simmons has resources for students, at some point we will no longer be students. For me, that’s just one year away. It’s critical that we know how to find support outside of the Simmons community for both this reason and in case Simmons can’t offer what we need. I, personally, have found incredible mental and physical health providers outside of Simmons. The resource table at the market was a great way to spread this knowledge.

Wilen says that, while vending itself isn’t violence prevention work, it is “student empowerment” which they think is an “important part of violence prevention, is autonomy and empowerment,” Wilen said. I can testify to this. It was uplifting to see that people are interested in my art and even think it’s worth buying!

Cara Loffredo, the co-founder of Boston Women’s Market, felt that the Simmons community reflected the mission of the Boston Women’s Market. She described a sense of support and camaraderie at the market, which is something that they are adamant about having at their markets. Loffredo said, “It’s not just about you selling your goods. It’s about learning from one another, talking to one another, learning about each other’s backgrounds. And that’s definitely something you can feel when it comes to being on the Simmons campus.”

From vending at the market and interviewing people involved, it is clear how much time, care, and effort was put into this event. The Betsy’s Friends team, the JCLE student workers, and every person a part of the Boston Women’s Market team worked hard to pull this event together. Post and Wilen both expressed how pleased they were with the end result. On a personal level, I was more than pleased! I sold a good amount of collages, met many great artists, and met new people. 

Boston Women’s Market will be hosting two back to back holiday markets in Fenway this month. On December 9, they will be at The Station from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. On December 10, they will be at Time Out Market from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to keep up with their upcoming events, you can follow them on their Instagram: @bostonwomensmarket. Students of any gender identity who are interested in becoming a vendor for Boston Women’s Market can apply on their website.