‘Bad***’ Women’s Month’ in Hamilton aims to connect local ladies

Casual Pint owner Ann Marie Cilley isn’t just celebrating women in October who roll up their sleeves and refuse to quit.

She also wants to make sure women have the tools to be tough, resilient, and tenacious warriors that refuse to quit. Or, as Cilley puts it, to be bada** women.

“There are a lot of bada** women here in Hamilton,” she said. “Women’s support in Hamilton is not a problem. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere where I’ve felt more supported as a business owner, as a contributor, and as a leader here.”

Cilley is leading the charge of a city-wide effort called Bada** Women’s Month, which is designed to strengthen and build wellness, which includes physical care, mental health and spiritual health, financial literacy and personal safety. Several tough, resilient, and tenacious women have joined Cilley in this initiative.

“This is about tapping into that vast network and to shine a light on several issues, and several opportunities,” she said.

Bada** Women’s Month, or BAWM, started as an idea discussed around a table at the Casual Pint. The Pint has monthly fundraisers to support a local nonprofit every month. Cilley said when she opened the business, she wanted it to be “bigger than something other than beer. I wanted to make sure we were part of a strong community and a contributing part of the community.”

The monthly support for a charity or organization didn’t come until after the COVID-19 pandemic started, as that idea was sparked by her patrons who would come in to get a DORA cup or take out ― some of who came in most every day.

One day earlier this year, YWCA Hamilton Executive Director Wendy Waters-Connell asked if the April fundraiser that supports the YWCA’s Dove House, a domestic abuse shelter, to October.

But that month had been reserved to support Breast Cancer Awareness. Both the Dove House and Breast Cancer Awareness fundraising efforts are large efforts for the Hamilton bar. She didn’t want to pick one or the other so she said, “We’re going to go all in October in the spirit of all things women.”

“Like the women that we are and the women we want to serve and to help develop, we set out to create something pretty bada**,” Cilley said.

In the inaugural year, BAWM will focus on strength in numbers.

“Our primary goal is to truly bring as many women together,” said Cilley. “Build connections, discover stories. Every person has a story, and creates a lasting impact. We know how hard it is for women to tell their stories, to know their stories, and to live their stories, and that’s definitely one of our goals.”

BAWM is a series of events, from flagship events the initiative’s steering committee has created, like the Monday Inspirational Series, to collaborations with existing events, like the Hamilton Junior Women’s League 5K.

YWCA Hamilton’s Chief Strategy and Justice Officer Charla Hale said the BAWM initiative “is the perfect intersection” of the Y’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women.

“It only made sense for us to support and be part of a collaboration dedicated to healing, equipping and connecting awesome women in Hamilton,” she said.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and several of the BAWM activities and events will directly benefit the YWCA’s Dove House.

“Our hope is that our presence will help raise awareness of domestic violence and highlight YWCA Hamilton as a resource and advocate,” Hale said. “We hope that women across our community join in throughout the month, to share stories, learn from each other, and ultimately walk away feeling empowered.”

Hamilton Planning Director Liz Hayden is another one of the bada** women leading the charge with Cilley. She said she was drawn to the initiative because the idea and women involved “have so much positive energy.”

“Some women’s events are really serious and/or somber,” Hayden said. “This is really fun and light-hearted while still supporting great causes.”

Cilley said this BAWM will eventually transition from a monthlong effort to help and celebrate women to a yearlong movement with October being the flagship month.

To learn more about the events and about BAWM, visit tinyurl.com/BAWM2022.

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