“Oh I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your 9 to 5
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be because I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty.”
Song by Daya
The lyrics to this song won’t win any awards but I love the message behind them. I first heard the song while watching Pitch Perfect 3, and it perfectly captures the Bellas’ sassy charm, irreverent humor, and girl power. But more than that, it reminds me of the women that I know; none of us, young or old, are sitting around waiting for Prince Charming to come and rescue us. We have become the heroines of our own stories, and we own them, from preface to happily ever after ending.
I am inspired almost every day by remarkable women, women who come in every shape, size, color, and age.
There are the women of Impact 100 Garden State, a national organization with local chapters, who decided that they wanted to give back to the communities that had given so much to them. They do this by running an entirely volunteer organization that this year will be awarding $300,000 to three local charities. Over the course of five years our Impact100 chapter has raised over $1 million, and every dollar goes to grant recipients like Oasis, a haven for women and children in Paterson, that has created programs designed to feed, clothe, and educate, to break the cycle of poverty. Or Project Self-Sufficiency, helping families who live in poor, rural areas who are isolated from social services, schools, and supermarkets. They will be using their grant money from Impact100 to purchase an RV to take a full range of social services “on the road”. Or Roots & Wings, an organization that serves aged-out foster children. These are just 3 of the many non-profits that have won grants from our Impact 100 Garden State.
There are the women of FISH, who have been running a food and children’s clothing pantry out of basements for more than 30 years. They serve a local population that social services can’t often help, bringing food right to client’s doors. A woman’s abusive boyfriend steals her rent and FISH helps her pay it. A man with throat cancer restricted to a liquid diet and FISH delivers a weekly supply of Ensure (and he survives!). A hotline is manned seven days a week by volunteers, and the women who deliver food and clothing on a daily basis are truly my heroines – they have devoted themselves to lifting others up.
There are the women of my sorority who, upon hearing that the current sisterhood was about to be kicked off campus for behavior violations, created an alumnae association that forged a partnership with the college administration and current sisters to instigate cultural change and get things back on track. It took three years but thanks to this partnership, it looks like the college-imposed sanctions will be lifted this May.
There are the women of the Center for Faith Justice, an organization that takes a quote from the New Testament, “faith without works is dead” and tries to teach young adults that to be Christian means to be called to a life of service and commitment to those in need. Despite the lack of support from the institutional Church, they forge ahead and try to inspire, one mind and heart at a time. Their programs serve the needs of the disadvantaged in Trenton, Philadelphia, and Appalachia, and what they do takes a huge village to successfully plan, administer, and execute. The Center is not exclusively women, but women are the power behind the mission.
These women have hearts of gold, brains of titanium, and nerves of steel. They see a problem, devote a tremendous amount of brain power to figuring out a solution, and then work hard in executing and sustaining organizations whose impact is immeasurable. They are all Wonder Women.
And these are just the women that I know personally in these small local operations. Think of the women who are making a difference every day – in the #MeToo movement, the teacher’s strikes, the Women’s Marches, the list goes on and on. I look at my daughter’s generation and I see women who never doubt for a second that they can make the world a better place.
Everywhere that I look I see women becoming active citizens who aren’t content with sitting around and looking pretty. It gives me hope! Thank God!