Cultivating a safe environment for women survivors
Jimmy Lutin, Technical Manager at Kering and Board Member of the Kering Foundation, has been volunteering at the Foundation’s long-standing partner La Maison des femmes de Saint-Denis since 2020. Jimmy, alongside other Kering employees, has been enhancing its facilities, running a gardening workshop for survivors. Here’s Jimmy, talking about his experience.
Jimmy, how did you become interested in volunteering for the Foundation?
As a Board Member of the Kering Foundation, I wanted to get involved in the Foundation’s projects and work in the field. Céline (Bonnaire, Executive Director of the Foundation), introduced me to La Maison des femmes’ team at the beginning of 2020. They needed to renovate their facilities at the time, which perfectly matched my technical skills. The outside areas of the Maison also needed to be landscaped, and that’s how we came up with the idea of the gardening workshop.
Tell us about the workshops
We have 2-hour workshops every two weeks throughout summer. Women who participate mostly want to relax and have a good time, so I let them do things on their own and give them advice when they ask. They are really involved in the project. We are currently planting a vegetable garden, which they take great care of by weeding, watering, and cleaning. They are excited to see the fruits of their labor – tomatoes, herbs, zucchini…
Together we are building a secure and safe environment where they can feel comfortable. As we advance, I understand each one of them better: some need more supervising, others are very autonomous. I try to be attentive to their individual needs.
What is a key takeaway from this collaboration for you?
Before volunteering at La Maison des femmes, I was interested in the topic of gender-based violence, I really admire how dedicated and committed the staff is. Everybody is welcome at La Maison des femmes, it really works as a family for the women who come, and for me as well. I arrived with my experience as a technical manager, and overtime we have built a very solid and trusting relationship.
As a man, were you apprehensive of how survivors would perceive you?
At first, I was very aware of the fact that I am a man, working with survivors of gender-based violence. When they first come in, the participants can be silent, and I always respect their boundaries and don’t ask any questions. Usually, they get comfortable quickly.
“Helping them [women survivors] through the gardening workshops means the world to me."
It shows other men that they can also participate in combating violence against women!
What are your future plans for volunteering?
To me, the experience was more than just a one-time workshop. This unique center is expected to be replicated throughout France; I would love to apply my skills to various projects and recreate the spirit and atmosphere that we have here, at La Maison des Femmes de Saint-Denis.
What would you say to others interested in getting involved?
You do not have to be a member of the foundation to make an impact. Any Kering employee can contribute their skills and expertise to the Foundation’s partners in need of support.
The Kering Foundation mobilizes both its internal and external networks to take action to combat violence against women by volunteering their skills to Foundation partners.
Learn more here.