This past week had me engaged and attending events that celebrated women and the contributions they made to our community and, ultimately, to our society. I was very fortunate (and grateful) to be recognized as someone who makes a difference in other people’s lives at the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards this week. Now I am completely aware that the majority of us do what we can to make a positive imprint in the world but the theme of this week was specifically women inspiring women. We are seeing an explosion of women taking leadership roles which is encouraging to the current upcoming generation of young women. Different leadership styles are being sought today, focusing on collaboration, partnering, inspiration, relationship-building, emotional intelligence and communication skills and many women are now meeting these leadership needs and goals. Also, women are instinctively socially compassionate and as such they are becoming major players in investing in and creating community supports and resources that positively impact people and their families. These past few days have opened my eyes to the diverse ways women are making a difference.
I attended the Women’s Spring Breakfast which gathered over 300 women to network and to hear the inspiring message from the keynote speaking duo, Janet Kestin and Nancy Yonk. These two exemplary women started the Dove Self-Esteem campaign. Although considered leaders in the marketing industry they have been met with challenges in convincing clients that women are not only about beauty, but also about social change. Of course we are! It was also refreshing to also hear that they banded together as a two ‘man’ team in order to balance career and family. One was able to spell off the other, so when family priorities came up for one of them, the other was still available for their team. Together they shared the corner office of their firm. This revolution of two people sharing a huge leadership responsibility promotes a better quality of life. What an innovative idea!! The current “do-more-with-less” is really not meeting anyone’s needs and only causing us (and our families) to be unhealthy and unhappy. This pertains to our male counterparts too as they are increasingly become more involved in child-rearing responsibilities.
The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards is a great opportunity to learn about achievements and progress women are making in our community. The categories are: Education; Leadership and Professions; Arts and Culture; Entrepreneurship; Health and Wellness; Research and Technology; Athletics; Community Building; Under 29 and Lifetime Achievement Award. The bios of these women are outstanding! I was in awe about how many people (800) attended this event, making the YWCA fund-raising event an absolute success. As social workers, my husband and I have personally moved several young women needing somewhere to live to the YWCA. We understand the necessity of this support and vital resource in our community. This fund-raising event not only raises the money required to keep this much-needed community support service running but showcases the achievements, passions and continuous work by women in our community. The theme was You’re My Inspiration. It certainly was appropriate as I was inspired by my fellow nominees.
This past Monday I was also invited to speak at C95 Shauna Foster’s Book Club regarding my book, Am I the Only One? Struggling Being a Teen. This intimate gathering is an opportunity for women to get together, share ideas, makes time for themselves and have fun. Shauna Foster, a local morning DJ, is always in high demand for charity and community events. However, she is still committed in organizing a lovely night out for women in her community who don’t often get time to socialize, relax and put themselves first. She also has to read a book once a month too! My heartfelt gratitude goes out to her for choosing my book for May’s event. I truly enjoyed spending time with the ladies in her club and encourage everyone to check it out!
I am regularly told by women that I am an inspiration to them, however, I often feel I haven’t really accomplished that much yet. I am only doing what I feel compelled to do: help others, pass on some knowledge and do what I love. I suppose if there is a message that I hope to bring to other women is that we need to stop making excuses why we can’t chase that dream or work towards that special goal. The timing will never be perfectly right. You also have to make time if it really means that much to you. A lot of little steps can be just as significant as that one big step. Don’t be afraid to take a risk or make a mistake. Mistakes are inevitable due to lack of experience and treading new territory. It’s true it may not all completely work out but you will gain many valuable skills and lessons making you ready for that next big thing that comes along. Before you know it, you will be inspiration to someone else leading them towards their better future.