About Paula Kiger

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Saying Goodbye to Silvia

It is time to say goodbye to Silvia, the first person our family sponsored through Unbound. Although I knew her time in the program would end, it was still a sobering moment when I received the notification, even though her departure is due to her success.

The Farewell Notification

Humanitarian Programs

Unbound sent us a letter notifying us that Silvia had graduated, along with a farewell letter written by Silvia’s cousin (and translated by Unbound), explaining Silvia was unable to write due to her job. Here’s an excerpt:

…Silvia is in good health thanks to God along with her family. We thank you for the support you have given her since it has benefited her with healthcare, education, food supplies, shoes, clothing and much more.

She has gotten other significant benefits such as cinder block, sheets of tin, cookware, bed and others which got better her home. I also tell you that Silvia leaves Unbound program since she graduated from high school and she got the art and sciences diploma, she has gotten a job actually and she works selling clothing, now she is able to support her family.

 

Our History With Silvia and Her Family

I don’t recall the precise date Silvia became a part of our family when my in-laws chose to sponsor her through Unbound (I think it was around 2002); they picked her partially because she was close in age to Tenley and my nieces, thinking shared gender and age would help the connection feel more “real.”

Humanitarian Programs

Over the years, I felt increasingly led to meet Silvia in person. Pictures and letters can only convey so much. I wrote about the goal here and here.

In 2011, th goal became reality! Tenley and I traveled to Guatemala as part of an Unbound Mission Awareness Trip and met Silvia and her mom (also named Silvia). I shared our experiences here and here.

What I Have Learned

Documenting what we have learned over the time we have sponsored Silvia, especially through the trip to meet her in 2011, is a challenging task which largely defies words. A few observations, though.

Sponsorship is not a one-way street. Yes, our monthly contributions provided her and her family with support they would not otherwise have had and enabled her to get an education (not something to be underestimated in Central America) and her family to have better housing. Hopefully the letters and packages (back when we were allowed to send packages) sent by my in-laws and us (technically my in-laws were Silvia’s sponsors) inspired, amused, and affirmed her and her family. But as cliche’ as I know it sounds, we got as much or more out of the experience than they did.

This experience pointed up our sheer humanity and imperfection, which is why God’s grace is so central to our lives. My fellow parishioners at Holy Comforter made a Humanitarian Programsbeautiful quilt for Silvia. Each parishioner crocheted or knitted a square, then they were sewn together and blessed at church before being taken to Silvia. It was truly a lovely gift. I have to say, though, in retrospect, Guatemala is a very hot place. I am sure Silvia and her family treasure the gift but as practical gifts go, I could possibly have made a more useful choice! I also underestimated the fact that she was (at the time of our visit) a typical teenage girl. After meeting her and seeing her sense of style, I thought of other things we could have given her that may have been a bit more to her liking!

Spending time in a developing country is far superior to reading about a developing country. I know we can’t all go to countries about which we are curious due to financial, time, or health constraints, but do it if you can. I will never, ever, ever forget visiting one family’s humble home with a homemade welcome sign on the door. The home was so primitive, and the owner apologized for the home’s small size as I entered. But the Humanitarian Programssentiment on the door and the genuine love shown by the people we visited trumped every standard-of-living consideration. That said, we have it so good here, y’all (speaking to my friends in the US, Canada, and other countries where we have everything we need even if sometimes we perceive we don’t have what we want). We need to let that ease of living fuel our generosity to help others who aren’t so fortunate have the tools they need to support themselves.

Having to wait things out is a blessing. Our first 24-48 hours in Guatemala did not go smoothly. It was an adjustment to remember to throw the toilet paper away rather than flush it, to take the Pepto Bismol every four hours to fend off gastrointestinal distress, to remember not to drink the water. I am not exaggerating one bit to say Tenley was miserable and I am pretty sure I recall her emailing her dad (when we had a moment of internet connectivity at Unbound’s center) to tell him she wanted to go home NOW. Thank goodness that wasn’t a possibility, because she had done an emotional 360 by the end of the week. We have all gotten used to instantaneous everything, including rapidly ditching situations that no longer please us. I am so grateful that wasn’t an option for us.

What We Hope For Silvia

One of the biggest challenges of the end of an Unbound sponsorship is the fact that it truly is a final “goodbye.” For a variety of reasons that make perfect sense from a practical and security standpoint, we are not allowed to share addresses or attempt to continue contact.

Tenley said to simply “tell her we love her and to never lose faith in Christ.”

Maybe it’s as basic as that. We want her to always know how loved she was (and is) and to keep up her faith. I would add, though, that as a female in her early 20s in a country like Guatemala, I pray that she use the education she received to control the reins of her life, that she is immune from being controlled by a man who does not want the best for her, from being restricted by a government that does not value her equally with males, that she is as free as possible from self-doubt.

How to Help Other “Silvias”

Unbound gave us the option to roll my father-in-law’s monthly contribution to another sponsored individual, but due to his terminal illness, we declined. (Our family still sponsors Estela in Guatemala and Stanley in El Salvador.)

If you are seeking a way to make a difference for a child, individual with special needs, or aging person, I strongly encourage you to consider sponsoring through Unbound via a $36 per month contribution.

Because it is more difficult for adults to find sponsors, I have chosen to feature Leonel Oscar:

Humanitarian Programs

According to Leonel Oscar’s profile on the Unbound website, he Leonel likes praying for the people in his community, so they can live with a better quality of life. He has a mental disability which makes it difficult for him to pronounce some words. Speech therapy would help him improve his ability to communicate with others. Leonel lives with his sister in a concrete-block dwelling. It’s far from the urban area, so they go by bus to the market. Leonel and his sister grow watercress and herbs to sell there.

Unbound’s site shares information about everyone needing sponsors on their site; you can sort by birthday, first name (I had hoped to find another “Silvia” to share with you!), and other criteria. Click here to start your sponsorship journey. (If you have an interest in Leonel Oscar specifically and can’t find him, I will be happy to try to help you.)
Humanitarian Programs

National 529 Day is Coming Up!

This post and the scholarship giveaway are sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board. All thoughts are my own.

My children and I were involved as volunteers with the Florida State University Film School for several years. The first time we went to campus to watch one of the films be screened, I headed automatically to the on-campus theater I remembered going to when I was a student at Florida State (1982-86). Nothing was going on at the building I approached; clearly I was at the wrong place.

Scholarship Giveaway

A few frantic phone calls later, I was directed to the beautiful Student Life Cinema, which in its luxury, size and modern design made Moore Auditorium look like the dinosaur it was.

The Cost of Higher Education Changes

Like the move theater facilities at Florida State, many other things can change over a couple of decades. One of those things is the cost of a college education.

As National 529 Day approaches, this is the perfect time to think about opening a 529 plan for a child in your life.

(If you don’t have time to read everything I am about to share, click here to enter a contest to win a $529 scholarship deposited into a Florida 529 Savings Plan account!)

Still with me? Here is more info about 529 plans:

Education savings plans called “529 plans” are named after the IRS code that created them in 1996. They help families save for college costs. If you are wondering how they are different from prepaid tuition plans, here’s a breakdown.

Enter the Scholarship Giveaway!

What’s not to like about a $529 contribution into a 529 Scholarship Plan for a child you love? Ten people will win!

It’s simple to register to enter (you do have to be a Florida resident). After that, you can accumulate additional entries each day by participating in activities on the site, like creating a meme. Here’s one I created of my son and me:

Scholarship Giveaway

(Editor’s Note – 5/17/17 – now that my husband has pointed this out to me, I can’t unsee what he saw so …. just for the record …. my son is not shooting me a bird here — he is holding a medal he had been awarded at school. This is how rumors start, people!)

More details on the contest:

You can enter anytime between May 15 and June 11.

Bonus: I will randomly choose a winner to receive a $10 Starbucks gift card from among everyone who registers for the giveaway and helps promote it between May 16 and May 20 via the Rafflecopter below. You could help a child you love get an education investment jump start AND get fully caffeinated. Yay!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Scholarship Giveaway

Tell Me About Yourself, Mom

In his post, 10 Questions to Ask Your Mom or Grandma on Mother’s Day, Bob Tiede shared ten questions to help us get to know our moms better. I love the questions but feel shy to ask them of my mom, so I decided to answer them from my perspective; maybe my kids will be interested someday.

1. What are your favorite memories of times you spent with your Grandparents?

I don’t think I would have called them my favorite times when I was a kid, but in retrospect, all the times we spent on my Granny and Pa’s porch (my mom’s parents) shelling peas and just “visiting.”

2. What was your grade school like?  What do you remember about your favorite teacher?

I went to two. Roosevelt Roads Elementary (we were stationed in Puerto Rico in the Navy) for kindergarten through part of second grade, then W.E. Cherry Elementary School once we moved back to Orange Park.

Interviewing Mothers

Thank you to pinner Maria Norman for this picture.

I don’t remember disliking any teachers in elementary school. She wasn’t a teacher but (surprise!) I really loved the library, Mrs. Derbonne.

Interviewing Mothers

My friend and I shared a day visiting my childhood home and elementary school in January.

3. Who was your best friend? And what did the two of you like to do?

Easy peasy. Paula Young (now Jordan). We became friends because we both have the same first name. We ended up in different places for high school, but every visit we pick up precisely where we left off before.

What did we like to do? We were in band, we both enjoyed academics. Otherwise I would say “hanging out.”

She is deeply loyal, terrifically bright, and determined to serve her family and her business well (she does!). I love her.

Interviewing Mothers

Paula and me in August 2016 in New Orleans

4. What kind of things did you do as a kid that got you into trouble at home or school?

For the most part, I was ridiculously compliant. RIDICULOUSLY. My most memorable transgressions:

  1. I didn’t clean my room enough (some things never change)
  2. I got pulled out of English class in the 10th grade and scolded for being too chatty with my cousin, Deneen. I was mortified; she was amused that I was mortified.
  3. There was the time I stole baby Jesus, though.

5. Growing up what did you want to be?

I think my rotation was similar to lots of kids (waitress, teacher, that type of thing). I was on a “missionary” kick for a while (and spent the summer after high school knocking on doors all over St. Lucie County hoping to save souls). But the one that comes closest to being a “regret” is not pursuing something medical.

6. Outside of the family, what was the very first job you had that you got paid for?

Babysitting was first, but the first one that made a huge impression, the one I still think about every day, was being a cashier at Spires IGA.

7. How did you meet Dad? How did he ask you to marry him?

Blind date! We went to the Huey Lewis and the News Concert, a setup arranged by our mutual friend Cherie who has declared herself out of the matchmaker business now that she had one success.

I broke up with him in 1989 and moved to NYC to “take my bite out of the big apple.” Over the almost-three years I was there, we progressively took the steps that led to us deciding to get married. I kept telling him I wasn’t ready. One time, when I had just gotten back to New York, I called him and said yes. He officially gave me my ring on the pier at Lake Butler.

8. What is the hardest thing that you ever had to do in your life?

Along with Dad and Aunt Mary, tell Grandma and Grandpa that Uncle Chuck had committed suicide.

9. What is the greatest compliment that you have ever received?

Someone who had been a little kid when I was a teenager working with the children’s choir at First Baptist friended me on Facebook YEARS LATER. It took me a bit to remember her (new last name, no longer four years old) but once my brain was engaged, she said “you made a difference.” I never knew.

10. What is one thing you still want to do that you have never done?  (What is still on your “Bucket List?”)

I still want to be fluent in Spanish. I am so disappointed in myself that I haven’t made more progress toward that. I want to get out of debt. Go to Europe.

Bonus Question:  If your Mom (Grandma) is a Follower of Jesus, ask:  Is there a story you can share about how you came to be a Follower of Jesus?

For me, my spiritual life has been an evolution from doing what I thought I should do spiritually, to doing what most brings me in Communion with the holy trinity. I am *thrilled* Tenley has a church relationship she loves and have enjoyed going to church with Wayne Kevin. No matter what denominations they choose, first and foremost I hope they make time every week to turn to something bigger about themselves.

Meet the Candidates for #TLHTwitterMayor

What does being a mayor mean? It depends on who you ask and what type of mayorship you’re referring to. For example, my 2016 Swarm review revealed that I accumulated 91 mayorships!

Twitter Mayor

And except to my ego, these mayorships mean absolutely nothing. Other United States mayorships, of real places, having responsibility for real issues, are different. Whether mayor-council, commission, or council-manager, US mayors have responsibilities impacting law enforcement, housing, and a variety of other municipal issues relating to quality of life for a community.

What Does It Mean to be the #TLHTwitterMayor?

There’s a new mayorship in town here in Tallahassee. It’s *possible* it is more closely related in significance to my 91 Swarm memberships than to any of the mayors of our 19,429 municipalities, but you would never know that from the passion, drive, intensity (and trash talking) of the race’s four candidates.

I’m not exactly sure how the #TLHTwitterMayor race was born, but earlier this week, one tweet led to another and a campaign was born, leading to this story in the Tallahassee Democrat.

Now, I love Twitter (maybe my 100,000+ tweets back that  up), and really wanted to be one of the four candidates was immediately enthusiastic about supporting my four fellow Tallahassee Twitter friends, so I offered to give them each an opportunity to promote their platforms on my blog.

This is what each candidate was asked:

What is the biggest strength you bring as a candidate?

What is one thing each Tallahasseean could do to improve our community?

Where did your favorite Tallahassee memory take place?

How would you describe Tallahassee in a tweet?

What local charity do you want people to know more about and/or donate to?

As part of the candidate forum, we will be collecting canned goods for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.  What canned good best represents you and why?

Here is what they said in response. The two who responded are  presented in the order in which I received their answers. The other two are getting special Big Green Pen treatment!

@WakullaWriter (Rachel Sutz Pienta)

Twitter Mayor

What is the biggest strength you bring as a candidate?  My Big Bend, North Florida sensibility coupled with my willingness to subvert dominant paradigms and blur traditional lines of separation is my biggest strength of a candidate. I moved here 22 years ago from an area known as a larger metro suburban and rural region that converged on an urban center – similar to what Tallahassee is for the Big Bend area and Eastern Panhandle.

What is one thing each Tallahasseean could do to improve our community?  One thing each Tallahasseean could to improve our community is to choose one organization to give their time to for 5 hours a month for one year. Imagine what such an investment of time and talent could do for our community if every resident chose some way to give back like this!

Where did your favorite Tallahassee memory take place? My favorite Tallahassee memory took place at the American Legion Hall at Lake Ella.  My husband and I held our wedding reception for over 200 family and friends there.

How would you describe Tallahassee in a tweet?   #Tallahassee – come to learn, fall in love, stay for a lifetime!

What local charity do you want people to know more about and/or donate to?  I would like people to learn more about the United Way and support it more fully. There is no organization that helps so many people across so many different sectors across the Big Bend area as the United Way does.

As part of the candidate forum, we will be collecting canned goods for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.  What canned good best represents you and why?  Canned pumpkin. Like canned pumpkin, I can be savory or sweet.  Pumpkin can be made into soup, sauce, pies, cakes, bread, and so much more – how is that for versatility?

Connect with Rachel on Twitter at @wakullawriter.

@DannyAller (Danny Aller)

Twitter MayorWhat is the biggest strength you bring as a candidate?  I once ate 50 wings from the old Buffalo Wings & Rings spot on East Tennessee Street — and then went out and played three sets of tennis (without throwing up). I’m also an excellent tennis player.

What is one thing each Tallahasseean could do to improve our community? I don’t agree with the line of thinking that we “Have To Make [Someplace] Great Again.” Tallahassee is already great.

Where did your favorite Tallahassee memory take place? I caught a 22-pound, state record large mouth bass at a private Tallahassee lake owned by a wealthy retired professional sports star. I also may not have had permission to be fishing there — but ongoing litigation prevents me from saying anything more.

How would you describe Tallahassee in a tweet? #Tallahassee is a place I always took for granted & didn’t truly understand how great it was — until I left. But Tallahassee is home.

What local charity do you want people to know more about and/or donate to? I’m not a very charitable person in general. I mostly like to take … wait, don’t print that.

As part of the candidate forum, we will be collecting canned goods for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.  What canned good best represents you and why? First, to even participate in this forum, I shall require four things — per my standard celebrity rider: A bowl of peanut M&Ms — with ALL the orange and blue ones removed!; FIJI Water, chilled to 37 degrees; warm towels; and a gold scepter.

Also, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend is a great charity to support — they’ve received many a cans of mushroom stems from our family over the years — but, you know, there are so many charities in the world that are worthy and have so much to offer and are so wonderful … for instance, I even started my own charity called “The Human Fund” and we work tirelessly behind the scenes and do a lot of gre–

Wait, what was the question again?

Connect with Danny on Twitter at @dannyaller.

Editor’s Note: I did not receive responses from candidates Greg Tish and Jay Revell. Because I am sort of a stickler for closing loops, the best thing I can think to do is to match tweets I have seen from them with the questions. REPEAT: This is me, guessing. Take it for what it is. 

@Greg_Tish (Greg Tish)

Twitter MayorWhat is the biggest strength Greg brings as a candidate?  Having his priorities straight, as in this recent tweet: “Thank goodness for seat warmers .”

What is one thing each Tallahasseean could do to improve our community? Get out of his way, apparently. Greg has a tough commute, judging by this recent tweet. “Some days I just hate my three minute commute home. Traffic can be so awful.”

Where did Greg’s favorite Tallahassee memory take place? See? This is where I am such an inferior chooser of responses than Greg himself would be. But, because I have to soldier on, and because this tweet includes 50% of the #TLHTwitterMayor field, it’s the winner: “Boys night! .”

Twitter Mayor

How would Greg describe Tallahassee in a tweet? Again, the challenge with leaving it to me is that things can get taken out of context. Here’s my choice: “She has ash trays and a rear facing seat.” (And click here to see the tweet so you understand the context.)

What local charity does Greg want people to know more about and/or donate to? From May 1: “It’s ! Help us spread the word about the fight vs Fanconi anemia. Share w/ “Why to learn more.” I agree – Kidz1stFund is a great choice. Click here for the tweet.

As part of the candidate forum, we will be collecting canned goods for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.  What canned good best represents Greg and why? Okay, this is a stretch because it wasn’t a Greg Tish tweet (although it mentioned Greg Tish) and it isn’t about a canned good (although it has the word can in it), but I am a HUGE fan of The Red Shed (who sent the tweet), so it’s in! “[I] know a great spot where yall can have an actual event.”

Connect with Greg on Twitter at @greg_tish.

***Editor’s Note*** I am not sure he complied with the 50 pages of codification dictating how one withdraws from the #TLHTwitterMayor race, but I believe this tweet means Jay has taken himself out of contention. I hope there’s a support group for this kind of occurrence; I am not sure I can process it alone. I am leaving Jay’s profile in because a) I think he’s a pretty cool guy and b) I want Making Light Productions to still be mentioned. I love editorial discretion!

@JayRevell (Jay Revell)

Twitter MayorWhat is the biggest strength Jay brings as a candidate?  This was a tough one where Jay is concerned, because he tweets about so many great things but apparently was not considering the fact that I would have to figure out a potential answer to this question when he did not respond. Going out on a limb here and choosing “faith” as in this retweet he did of Dean Inserra: “If your politics and faith collide, go with your faith.”

What is one thing each Tallahasseean could do to improve our community? Vote for him, apparently, as per this tweet: “Join the Revellution…”

Where did Jay’s favorite Tallahassee memory take place? Another tough one (work with me here, Jay!). But he looks like he had a blast at the Florida Sunshine Ball, as evidenced by: “Great times tonight at the Florida Sunshine Ball! Thanks for having us.”

Twitter Mayor

How would Jay describe Tallahassee in a tweet? Full disclosure: this one is taken totally out of context but hey, I’m flying blind here: “Welcome to the future…” (but here’s the tweet if you want to understand).

What local charity does Jay want people to know more about and/or donate to? Okay, I’m taking a total point of personal privilege here and linking to a local non-profit I adore, that he linked to in a retweet. Here’s to you, Making Light Productions. (And here’s the tweet.)

As part of the candidate forum, we will be collecting canned goods for America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend.  What canned good best represents Jay and why? Honestly, I’ve got nothin’ at this point and can’t find anything on Jay’s Twitter timeline to help me out. So I’ll tell you that if you bring 5 canned goods to the May 7 mayoral forum (details here), the clients of America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend will benefit and you’ll get a pint of beer.

Twitter Mayor

Connect with Jay on Twitter at @jayrevell.

“But I Want to Hear From the Candidates Directly — How Do I Do That?”

All four candidates reportedly plan to attend the Tallahassee Twitter Mayoral Town Hall Debate May 7 at 2 p.m. Click here for details. Remember, bring 5 items to donate to America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend and get a pint of beer from Deep Brewing Company!

How and Why is Prince Murat Involved?

I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Let me know when you do.

What About Voting?

You vote on Twitter of course! Here’s a link to the poll. I haven’t exactly figured out Twitter’s calendar magic for calculating when voting will end. I *think* the poll shuts off late in the evening of May 7. If you vote as soon as you hear the candidates at the town hall, you should be fine!

Update: The Town Hall Happened!

The Town Hall happened (thank you, Deep Brewing Co.) and I was asked to be the moderator. Here we are, in our town hall glory.

Twitter Mayor

Greg Tish, Me, Rachel Sutz Pienta, Danny Aller

Update Two: The Votes Are In!

Following an hours-long filibuster in which the options were discussed a sip of a Deep Brewing BA Octopie and one person’s suggestion, a term limit of 140 days was agreed upon.

Congratulations, Danny Aller, on your election! Start kissing those babies and cutting those twibbons.

Twitter Mayor

Twitter Mayor

We Have to Talk About White Privilege

If you have ever driven along an Interstate, searching for the hotel where you have reservations, seeing it seemingly VERY CLOSE but realizing you have to figure out how to get off the interstate, get onto a service road, and find the entrance to your hotel, you know that things are not at all as easy as they first appear. White privilege is like a service road.

I have been wanting to write about intersectionality (and, related, white privilege) ever since I heard the word (yes, it’s been less than a year), but I have hesitated for a variety of reasons. The first reasons that come to mind are:

  1. I don’t understand the topics well enough
  2. I am afraid I will lose friends
  3. I alone can change no minds
  4. I am, as all of us are, so imperfect in my attempts to live life fairly

But those barriers are just going to have to co-exist with my attempt to say my piece on this. In my own home, in conversations with my closest family members, in multiple other environments, it’s time to talk about white privilege even if the attempt is grossly imperfect, if relationships unravel, if no minds are changed.

Because, whether it is a problem for us personally or not, our inability or unwillingness to put our privilege in context and figure out how to be in community with all our fellow people hurts us all in the long run.

White Privilege

One Book That Changed My Understanding About White Privilege

I wrote earlier that it has been within the last twelve months that I have heard the term “intersectionality.” I heard it at the We Won’t Wait 2016 gathering, as presenters explained the inequities faced by women of color. When I got home, I told my husband, “I felt guilty about being white.”

Sitting around feeling guilty about something I clearly can’t change about myself is not exactly constructive, so I set about trying to figure out what those speakers meant and what I could do.

I participated in an online book club about the book Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Although I never ended up being able to join the group via Facebook live, the experience got me to read the book, and the comments in the Facebook group itself enlightened me.

Here are a few takeaways:

  1. The distribution of VA benefits after World War II, for example, led to inequities for African American returning soldiers. Many African American soldiers did not get access to the same educational or housing benefits that white soldiers received. (More here and here.)
  2. “Hide and seek” has a different meaning for inner city black kids than suburban white kids. Okay, this one could be vulnerable to being a HUGE generalization. But I believe Debby Irving when she says that many black kids are taught not to play hide-and-go-seek because they don’t want to associate being hidden with “fun” — because of the ramifications down the road for their interactions with law enforcement officers.
  3. “Helping” …….. isn’t always. Debby Irving talks a lot about how we as middle- and upper-class white people are brought up to help, to be optimistic (believe me, since me alter ego is the Optimism Light this one got my full attention). I get the irony of the fact that I am raising the issue, lover of causes that I am. But I have to look at myself in the mirror and ask about the lens through which I see my helping choices. Am I being a “white savior” or a “fellow human sharing my resources”? Author Nate Regier, Ph.D., writes, “Non-consensual helping is a personal violation.” Hmmm.
  4. Taking kids out of their environments to expose them to culture doesn’t always have the downstream effects we imagine it will have. One of Debby Irving’s first jobs was being the coordinator for an arts program in Boston. The program would bus children in from disadvantaged areas of the city in order to help them “get culture.” Irving writes convincingly of why that plan did not have the effects organizers hoped — these children didn’t necessarily understand the environment — the imposing buildings, the etiquette expected of them as arts consumers, the very “foreign-ness” of it all.

As a White Person, I Take Ease of Access Totally For Granted

Typically, we would think of interstate highways as helpful to reaching our destination faster. Limited exits so that no one slows down, the ability to drive at relatively higher rates of speed, uniform signage and format. The problem is, if the gas, food, shelter or other services we need are off of a service road, we have to get off.

White privilege is akin to being on the service road, doing whatever we need to do, easily. For people who do not have white privilege, they are speeding along, on a road defined for them by someone who presumed what they wanted, with limited ability to get the basics and extras they need and want in order to live a life equitable to ours because someone blocked the exits.

Things I Still Haven’t Made Peace With

  1. Reparations. Slavery was wrong. What’s a stronger word for wrong? Let’s go with reprehensible. Slavery created the foundation of the inequities toward black people that still ripple through our society today, in ways big and small. My challenge with reparations is two-fold: I don’t understand how they would work and I am not sure what positive difference they would make. The United Nations thinks they are a good idea, though, so that carries some substantial weight with me. (More about the recommendation from the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent in this Washington Post article.)
  2. Decisions Like the One Bill Proctor Made. Bill Proctor is an African-American county commissioner here in Leon County. He boycotted a commission retreat last December because slaves had been used on the property in the 1800s. While I am sensitive to the issues slavery poses to him, I guess this is one of those things that, taken to an extreme, could mean none of us could meet (or live) anywhere. Taking the example further, I should surrender the deed to my house and the property I live on to the Native Americans. It never really was mine to begin with and it probably was not handed over by them willingly or without sacrifice on the part of an entire people.
  3. Statues/Historical Monuments. It is a good thing that we are all so much more sensitive to the impact of monuments glorifying people who perpetuated racism. I struggle with the fact that removing the tangible evidence that these people were once celebrated doesn’t remove the fact that these people were once celebrated or the lessons we should learn from that. One article with more on the topic here.
  4. Language Hypersensitivity. Have you looked at any house plans lately? Notice anything different? Some designers are re-naming the master bedroom the “owner’s suite” or “mastre bedroom,” believing the term “master bedroom” carries too many negative connotations from a historical and gender perspective. Words evolve. Did you know the word “bully” started out with a positive connotation, meaning “sweetheart”? The word “sarcasm” has as one of its root meanings “stripping off of flesh” (ouch …. sarcasm can feel that way sometimes). Language hypersensitivity could render us all mute.

What Can One Person Do?

I ask that question multiple times every day. I think Farther Tim Holeda’s Awareness-Understanding-Action model may be a good guide.

To increase your awareness, start with an open mind then read things and talk to people who will help you expand your perspective. Here are some recommendations.

Book: Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

Site: Being Black at School (personal note: this site and its mission are the brainchild of my friend Kelly. Feel free to fast forward past the other 1700 words in this post and donate to BBAS. It’s that relevant and necessary.)

Site: I’m Not the Nanny (especially the Multicultural Resources page)

Site: Black Girl in Maine

Article: Black Americans are Killed at 12 Times the Rate of People in Other Developed Countries

Article: What White Children Need to Know About Race

Article: Why “All Lives Matter” is Such a Perilous Phrase

Blog Post: 5 Truths About White Privilege for White People

Blog Post: 10 Ways to Practice Institutional Racism at Your Non-Profit Organization

Blog Post: All right, “color-blind” colleagues, we need to have a talk

Blog Post: I Don’t Discuss Racism With White People

Blog Post: Nebraska high school A.D. writes column about the racism his students face

Blog Post: Police officer’s daughter asked to remove ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag

Blog Post: This is What White People Can Do to Support #BlackLivesMatter

Blog Post: Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed

Blog Post: Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman

Reality: Really watch what is going on in your family, your office, your community, our nation. Sometime there is book, blog post, or article more informative than real life

To increase your understanding, all I can say is that understanding often follows from awareness. Try step one, and I’m pretty sure you’ll make progress.

Regarding action, most of the links under “awareness” also have suggested actions. For me, much of the past year has been about opening my mouth when it would be easier to be silent. I was being shuttled from home to Enterprise Rental Car a few months ago by a driver who decided to pontificate on “Muslims lying in roads” and why white people will never get along with “them” (black people). I think his words to me, I suppose born out of the fact that I was younger than him, were “just wait and see.” UMMMMM. Short of jumping out of the moving car, I wasn’t sure what to say to indicate that absolutely nothing he was saying was appropriate, EVER. I managed something like “everyone has the right to express their opinion” (about the Muslims) and “that hasn’t been my experience” (about black/white relations). I am sure I didn’t change his mind, but I had to speak up.(I also shared the conversation’s content in my feedback email to Enterprise. I never received a response.)

I love a line in Korbett Mosesly’s piece (linked to above).

I realize that institutional racism may not be your goal or intention. You may not even be aware of the complexities of racism at your organization. I hope this post moves you from unintentional racism to intentional allyship.

 

I, for one, intend not to intentionally block any more of the “interstate exits” and do my part to help everyone have access to the things they need, especially, and the things they want, as an intentional ally.

White Privilege

(This post is a response to two Mama’s Losin It Prompts: “book review” and “share a quote you love.”)

Strengthening Community Relationships in Hard Times

Community relationships pose challenges at even the best of times. I was excited to read recently that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared California’s drought state over for now. Within days of reading that article, I read that Central Florida’s wildfires are being exacerbated by dry conditions. While Florida’s situation is different from California’s, it still occurred to me that the “for now” part of California’s governor’s declaration is something we should all remember. Crises can occur at any time, and as we learned in Tallahassee last year during Hurricane Hermine, community relationships do better in crisis with a plan.

I am re-sharing a post I wrote in 2015, inspired by my horror at the #DroughtShaming I learned about among California neighbors. It’s an important reminder that community relationships are fragile and it is in our ability to nurture them.

Community Relationships

PR Lessons from DroughtShaming

I have a confession to make.

I used to be an anonymous “PoorlyProofed” contributor on Twitter.

Eventually, I started feeling guilty for anonymously calling people out.

I hate typos as much as the next person, but I started to feel that the negativity behind my tweets was weighing me down.

(It doesn’t stop at PoorlyProofed, admittedly. I even blogged about someone who misspelled “angel” on a luminaria MEMORIALIZING THEIR LOVED ONE WHO DIED OF CANCER.)

But it’s a new day, a new year, and perhaps I have evolved.

I have evolved to the point that I have reached a critical mass in my tolerance for anonymous finger-pointing on Twitter.

DroughtShaming

When I was listening to a recent radio story about DroughtShaming, I couldn’t help but feel that this effort was not going to end well.

The drought conditions in California, and the civic actions that have been taken to try to mitigate the effects of the drought, have resulted in the birth of the DroughtShaming hashtag (#droughtshaming).

There’s even an app.

The citizen reporter stands at the offending area, and GPS knows where they are, so the report already includes the address along with the alleged infraction.

Most people will agree that measures need to be taken to deal with the drought conditions in California.

When I see the glee with which some people use DroughtShaming, though, I have to wonder if their motives are altruistic.

I mean, what are the homeowners’ association meetings going to be like for these neighbors in the future?

Distrust Does Not Build Community Relationships

My husband and I were on the receiving end of a summons three years ago for “high grass.”

We deserved the summons. I won’t argue that. 

Our lawnmower had broken, my husband was out of a job, and we did not have the money to fix the lawnmower.

Because the report was made anonymously, there was no way of knowing who had filed it.

I kept wishing whoever had filed the report had offered to let us use their lawnmower instead.

It wasn’t that we WANTED our yard to be an eyesore.

Admittedly, my feelings probably would have been hurt if I had been approached directly by a neighbor, even if they were offering a lawnmower, but after the summons incident, I have always been asking myself  “was it YOU?” when interacting with my neighbors.

Distrust among neighbors does not build a caring community.

Positively Solve Problems

As communicators, we can play a role in more positively solving problems such as the drought-measure compliance.

  1. Connecting: One of the first pieces of strategy has to be to foster a “we’re all in this together” vibe. California is not going to be in drought conditions forever. The day will come when it will not be news that someone is watering their lawn. We need to help people realize a mutual goal of creating a pleasant community is bigger than the issue of sprinklers.
  2. Acknowledge the Issue: I don’t mean to flit around rejoicing that drought is front and center as a problem. Some events are inevitable in the life of a community. If it wasn’t drought, maybe it would be a proliferation of invasive plants, too much rain, or a strike by municipal workers such as the waste management staff. Be clear that drought is a true issue. Don’t gloss over it.
  3. Encouraging Constructive Action: Getting your neighbors fined or using civic resources to write up tickets has little probability of bringing rain down from the sky or of preserving what little water you do have. As a community, you may be at half time of your water management game, but you can still win if you have the right plays.

How can we, as communicators, help keep the civility reservoir full rather than drain it dry?

This blog post was originally published at Spin Sucks as PR Lessons from DroughtShaming.

Community Relationships

Help #ProjectReadathon Generate Children’s Books!

I have been a Charity Miles ambassador for many years now, and it is astounding to see how the app and its impact on deserving causes have both evolved (big props to creator Gene Gurkoff for that). I am excited that Charity Miles is partnering with Penguin Random House to conduct a campaign around children’s books.

Charity Miles Expands Beyond Feet on Pavement (Or Pedals)

As a proponent of Charity Miles, one of my goals over the years has been to encourage people to use the app, to dispel misunderstandings, and in general to talk it up in order to help as many causes as possible.

For example, you don’t have to be a “serious athlete” doing “serious mileage” to make a difference. Walking from your parking spot into the grocery store, for example, can help. Anything over a tenth of a mile counts toward benefiting a favorite charity.

I know, I know — everything I have said so far involves physical exertion.

Now, however, Charity Miles has added READING to the ways you can help a cause.

READING, people! And you know how I feel about that!

Helping Save the Children Earn Children’s Books Through the Charity Miles Readathon

Though April 23, Charity Miles is partnering with Penguin Random House for  the #ProjectReadathon campaign. During the campaign, Charity Miles members will be invited to contribute minutes to the Million Minutes goal by visiting the Charity Miles Impact Hub!

Side note: Even as a veteran Charity Miles user, it took me a little searching to find the Impact Hub. Here’s a screen shot of what it looks like (assuming you have installed the Charity Miles app). Just follow the red arrow.

Children's Books

Today, for example, I read “Hardwiring Happiness” which generated a 3-book donation.

Children's Books

Reading inside the Impact Hub triggers book donations from Penguin Random House to kids in need in the US, Canada, and Mexico through Save the Children. The more you read, the bigger impact you have: read a 20-minute excerpt and you could unlock a 5-book donation, or read an hour and unlock 20. The excerpts expire in 24 hours so keep up your reading streak and read every day.

But Moving Is Always Good Too!

You can also unlock books by walking, running, or cycling and logging Charity Miles. Charity Miles has set a goal to log 10,000 Charity Miles for Save the Children. Each mile will translate to one minute read, for every 20 mins a book will be donated. Reaching the goals means moving 2,500 books to children in North America!

Why This Lights My Fire

So many of us have books peeking out of multiple little corners of our homes. Stacks of books our children discarded long ago. Books we grabbed on impulse at the bookstore and haven’t gotten to. Books we read, loved, and just can’t part with.

For many kids, that is not the case. Let this infographic from Reading is Fundamental sink in:

Children's Books

RIF says it well:

A productive, contributing nation is dependent on a literate society.  Every child deserves an opportunity to own books, learn how to read, and obtain the fundamental building blocks to achieve their highest potential.

 

I applaud Penguin Random House for helping kids become readers and, therefore, lifelong learners via #ProjectReadathon.

Getting Started Personally

Since starting yesterday, I have read two excerpts, resulting in donations of six books, and walked 0.28 miles. That part was a pretty tiny start, but hey, that means there are only 9,999.72 more to go? 

Children's Books

I would love your help in getting there. More importantly, so would kids in need of children’s books.

Children's Books

 

An Easter Adventure

It is Easter today, and I am not in the mental mindset to write either something sentimental or something candy-related. I feel like changing things up a little bit, and doing it in advance of Easter so I can enjoy the day Sunday.

I abandoned “Write a story about a serial killer who leaves his (or her) clues in Easter eggs” (I don’t want to get that twisted.)

I considered:

Write a story where one of the main characters is a professional artist who made him/herself famous by designing Easter eggs.

Write a story that begins with a modern-day pastor being time warped to the time when Jesus was resurrected.

(The above two ideas were from Litbridge.)

My hilarious friends had lots of suggestions, reminding me that “little bunny foo foo was a serial killer” (technically true!) and somehow devolving into twerking bunnies.

In the clearer light of day, let’s consider what our crazy cat, Bella, actually does when she escapes.

An Easter Adventure

For context, Bella is (ahem) an indoor cat. She has developed a codependency, however, with my father-in-law, who goes in and out of our French doors many (many!) times a day to smoke his cigars. I’ve tried lots of methods of trying to keep her in, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. There are birds to chase and there’s grass to smell, after all!

<<<cue mysterious ghostly suspenseful music here>>>

One day, Bella escaped as she had done so many times before.

“She’ll come back,” my husband and I said to each other, something we have said hundreds of times before which had always proven true. After all, the lure of her food bowl eventually wins.

The night before Easter, we were exhausted. I had gotten up early to volunteer at the water stop for the Palace Saloon Race. Wayne, as usual, was snoring away. My father-in-was in whatever land a combination of Percocet and Ativan gets you to, and my son was still out with his girlfriend.

To keep trying to lure Bella in or go to bed?

The bed won.

When I woke up Easter morning, the first order of business was (as usual), pressing “brew” on the Keurig. When the house’s quiet registered, I realized Alice Cooper, our other cat, was the only feline begging me for food.

WHERE WAS BELLA?

I was kicking myself for all those times I thought “I really should make her wear a collar with a tag that has identification on it.” Was she gone for good?

It is hard for me to relax about Bella. As my husband reminds me often, I am the family member who gets most stressed about her disappearances. It’s a long story but the bottom line is: she is my daughter’s cat, she brings us all happiness (when she isn’t destroying the furniture), and I don’t want her to disappear on my watch.

As the coffee finished brewing and the caffeine started infiltrating my system, I got distracted by my usual morning routine of checking email and social media.

Happy Easter! Wished so many friends on social media.

Easter wishes on a screen weren’t quite cutting it. I missed all the years when I was growing up when my parents would have my place at the table set with an elaborate Easter basket I could admire before getting dressed for church. I missed all the excited years of my children’s Easters: candy, dressing up, the famous bonnet contest at church.

This year, all I had to look forward to was giving some chocolate and cards to my husband and son (I had sent Tenley her Easter goodies in advance), and the inevitable first question of the day from my father-in-law: “anyone got a pain pill?”

Since no one else was up yet, I headed outside to get the newspaper.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted lavender. WEIRD. Upon further inspection, in the hedges by the mailbox was a plastic easter egg. HMMM. Maybe the Tallahassee Democrat had found the one way to reach out to me that didn’t involve me having to hunt for a password I couldn’t remember. I tucked the egg in my pocket and brought the paper into my house.

Still feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to treat myself to an everything bagel. I grabbed one out of the freezer, wrapped it in a paper towel, and opened the microwave to defrost the bagel.

HMMM. The microwave was NOT. EMPTY. Two mint green eggs stared back at me. Maybe my son had developed a penchant for holiday observances (hey, 17 isn’t too late to learn!) and spread treats throughout the house for me. I placed the mint green eggs with the lavender egg in a bowl.

Wishing I had bought orange juice to have with my everything bagel, I resigned myself to an oj-free breakfast and opened the refrigerator door to grab butter.

NOW THIS IS GETTING STRANGE, I thought.  A pint of pulp-free orange juice had hopped into my fridge. There was no way it had been there the day before.

As I got dressed for church, my mind was tossing around the possible origins of the eggs and the orange juice. I didn’t dare mention it to my husband – it sounded so bizarre.

I stopped by my laptop to take a peek at my social media before we left for church. Where the heck did *this* screen saver come from?

Easter Adventure

And the rainbow of Peeps (my favorite) and chocolate bunny so beautifully packaged (packaging matters) in my chair?

*meow* came a feline voice from the porch.

Easter Adventure

It turns out Bella’s latest adventure had been more about bunnies than birds.

And an Easter “Cat”astrophe was not a catastrophe at all.

Someone got a bowl *brimming* with food after her big adventure.

Empowering Women: It Takes a Tribe

There is a mountain in Mexico I want to climb. I don’t mean in a “carabiners and ropes” kind of way, but in a “take a vehicle as far as you can and then walk the rest of the way” kind of sense. The goal? To help my friend Felisa Hilbert, one of my favorite examples of women empowering women, with the clinic she has established in a remote Mexican community that has no running water.

Felisa is a fellow Shot at Life champion. Although as Shot at Life champions, she and I have attended multiple conferences and trainings about helping children around the world have access to life-saving vaccines to prevent diseases like measles, pneumonia, polio, and infections that cause diarrhea, she has taken the next step: actually built a clinic from the ground up to help children in Tetzilquila, Veracruz, Mexico.

Empowering Women

The clinic is “up” a mountain but you have to walk “down” to get to it!

Empowering Women

Empowering Women Requires a Variety of Strengths

Felisa is the first person who came to mind when I learned of Heifer International’s new women’s empowerment initiative, which encourages us to think about four types of women in our lives: allies, entrepreneurs, artists, and den mothers. Read about her dedication to her clinic in this article (highlight below):

Hilbert has taken that philosophy to a rural community in Tex Tiquila, Mexico, where she is working to build a medical clinic. The community, made up of 40 families who speak Nahuatl, a native Aztec language, in place of Spanish, is completely isolated and lacks basic services, she said.

Although most people know Heifer International for their animal gifting program, they also do critical, impactful work to support and empower women. They believe that women have limitless potential, but limited opportunity and equip and empower marginalized women with resources and training as a means to sustainable livelihoods and community leadership positions.

Identifying Our Tribes

Heifer International developed a fun quiz to help us figure out our own tribe personas. Not surprisingly, I found out I am an “ally.” For Felisa, I would say she straddles two of the categories, “entrepreneur” (seriously, building a clinic on a remote Mexican mountain is not for the faint of heart or timid) and artist (check out the jewelry she makes then sells to support the clinic at the Jewelry for a Purpose Facebook page (pix of a few example below)).

Empowering Women

I’m also lucky to have great “den mothers” in my life. These are the people who don’t get sucked down by details BUT always seem capable of making sure no one gets left out and ensure there are snacks, drinks, and whatever other provisions we need at any get-together!

Honoring Felisa

Felisa, thank you for being you. Thank you for tirelessly supporting others. You inspire me to be better and today I am paying it forward to other women via a Heifer International Women’s Empowerment donation in your honor! This donation will fund a Heifer Women’s Self-Help Group that will teach women to read and write (empowering them to take control), give them livestock and training to increase their sense of self-reliance, and enable women to jointly better their communities through group savings and activities. SO INCREDIBLE.

Empowering Women

Celebrating the Sustainable Development Goals, especially HEALTH, with Felisa at the Social Good Summit in 2015.

Other Ways to Help Women Through Heifer International

To learn more about Heifer’s women’s empowerment efforts, check out heifer.org/joinhertribe. I would love all of my women readers to share about an incredible woman today!

There are several ways to be involved. While donations do, of course, rock, here are some additional social media actions you can take via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter between now and April 15 to be a part of this effort to amplify the #JoinHerTribe initiative and support women worldwide.

  • A photo of you + a woman who has inspired you (to grow your business, prioritize self-care, pursue creativity, help others, etc.)
  • A compilation graphic — 4 faces to fit the tribe roles of The Ally, The Den Mother, The Entrepreneur, and The Artist
  • A dedication to a mom or friend who has helped you through challenging parenting times
  • Public personalities you aren’t connected with personally but who inspire you to do great things (Oprah, Maya Angelou, etc.)
  • A video dedication to someone who inspired you to vlog

Who has made a difference by being part of your tribe? Give them a shout-out today!

Empowering Women

The Difference Only Planned Parenthood Can Make

***UPDATE — APRIL 14, 2017*** 

As referenced in this New York Times article, Trump Signs Law Taking Aim at Planned Parenthood Funding, President Trump “signed legislation on Thursday [April 13] aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.”

***END OF UPDATE, NOT THE END OF MY ADVOCACY”***

Here is my original April 2, 2017 post:

I have received services from Planned Parenthood precisely once, but that one visit places me among the “one in five” women in America who have visited Planned Parenthood at least once. As I alluded to in this post when I disclosed my experience of being tested for HIV, I tended in my early 20s to be fanatically cautious. Just like my it was probably scientifically impossible for the activities I was engaging in to expose me to HIV, neither did I technically need the diaphragm I was fitted for at Planned Parenthood.

Fast forward to 2017. At 52, I am a member of a demographic that does technically need services such as testing and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Opponents of Planned Parenthood try to paint a picture of an organization which zealously lures women into having abortions (fact: abortions account for less than five percent of Planned Parenthood’s services). These opponents support the rollback of Title X program funding, which in turn allows states to withhold certain funds to women’s health clinics.

We all need to understand the difference Planned Parenthood actually makes.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy

Middle-Aged and Elderly People Need STD Testing and Treatment

According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 persons living with HIV/AIDS in the United States is 50 or older.

Our issues around STDs are not limited to HIV risk, however, and they incorporate our emotions as well as our bodies.

Medscape breaks down the psychosocial factors behind our new middle-aged realities:

  • Divorce rates are increasing; in addition, the rate of people who remain unmarried is rising.
  • Midlife “repartnering” is increasing
  • As we stay healthier longer, our potential for engagement in sexual activity increases.

Medscape also lists the possibility, even though the research base is more shallow, that middle-aged women place a higher priority on intimacy over sexual health, leaving them more open to risk. In addition, older people may associate sexual risk-taking with their adolescent years and may ignore facts and dangers that they face.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy

Planned Parenthood Is An Asset for Women’s Health

Although you can learn the basics of the high-quality, affordable health care Planned Parenthood provides to women, men, and young people here, let’s focus for a minute on our middle aged and aging people facing a new sexual behavior reality:

Every year, Planned Parenthood provides more than 4.2 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including more than 650,000 HIV tests.

 

Why Planned Parenthood Needs Our Support

Fifty-four percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are in health professional shortage areas, rural or medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood health centers provide primary and preventive health care to many who otherwise would have nowhere to turn for care.

In 2014, Planned Parenthood health centers saw 2.5 million patients and provided more than 4 million sexually transmitted tests and treatment, more than 360,000 breast exams, more than 270,000 Pap tests, and birth control for 2 million people. Of Planned Parenthood patients in 2014, 15 percent were Black and 23 percent were Latino.

Although current efforts to defund Planned Parenthood cite Community Health Centers (CHCs) as a viable alternative health care provider for contraceptive and sexual health education needs, CHCs, while doing their own critical work for the health of our fellow Americans, are not equipped to replace Planned Parenthood.

Stepping Back and Taking the Long View

Right now, in April 2017, the dialogue around the future of Planned Parenthood is bookended on one side by supporters who strongly believe there is empirical evidence that blocking patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood comes at too high a cost.

On the other end, opponents believe sentiments like these expressed by Senator Ted Cruz and Dr. Alveda King: “millions of abortions make Planned Parenthood a business that the federal government does not need to be funding with our tax dollars.”

Without Planned Parenthood, women would be less healthy, especially women in medically underserved areas. Planned Parenthood makes a difference.

That difference is what Katharine Hepburn’s republican mother sought when she helped found the Connecticut Birth Control League in 1920.

That difference is what Republican Barry Goldwater’s wife, Peggy, sought when she helped organize Phoenix’s first family planning clinic in 1937.

That difference is ostensibly what Prescott Bush (George H.W.’s father and George W.’s/Jeb’s grandfather) sought when he served as treasurer of a nationwide Planned Parenthood campaign in 1947.

That difference is possibly what then-Congressman George H.W. Bush sought in a 1968 address to Congress in which he advocated for government support of family planning programs, referring to the “tragedy of unwanted children and of parents whose productivity is impaired by children they never desired.”

That difference is what President Nixon and then-Congressman George H.W. bush sought when they supported Title X upon its introduction (and subsequent passage) in 1970.

That difference is what republican Barry Goldwater intended when he supported upholding Roe vs. Wade in 1983.

“That Difference” Changed Lives

It’s one thing to cite surprising moments in history that demonstrate “that difference” made by Planned Parenthood. It’s yet another to know that, for countless individual, real life flesh and blood women, Planned Parenthood impacted their lives for the better:

People like Bethany, who said, “Their clinics enabled me to maintain my reproductive health, and control over my body at a time when I could never have afforded to have a child.”

People like the woman whose breast lump was diagnosed and treated by Planned Parenthood, who shared, “Thank-you, Planned Parenthood, for understanding that nothing is more important than your health, no matter what your socioeconomic status is.”

(The source for the above two quotes is this Huffington Post article.)

People like Cassandra, who wrote for Grounded Parents that Planned Parenthood’s early diagnosis and treatment of her Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) saved her life. She writes:

When I hear politicians talk about defunding Planned Parenthood what I hear is that they don’t understand the services that Planned Parenthood provides for both men and women. What I hear is that they don’t care if both men and women have access to low-cost reproductive health care.

How You Can Make “That Difference” For Yourself and Others

Please tell your legislator why “that difference” is so much broader than many opponents would have them believe. Call them (it’s easy!) and tell them not to defund care at Planned Parenthood Centers. There are several resources here.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy

Here are some more resources:

Birth Control Coverage Should Always Be Guaranteed

There’s a Long History of Republicans Supporting Planned Parenthood—Why Is No One Talking About It?

Why I’m a Christian Who (Still) Supports Planned Parenthood