February 28, 2013
I am a 41 year-old wife, mother of 3 children and part-time nurse practitioner for patients with hematologic malignancies. Until 2 years ago, I worked full-time as a nurse practitioner for 10 years, but when our oldest child was diagnosed with autism my husband and I quickly realized that caring for 3 children one of whom with special needs was going to be difficult if we both continued to work 50+ hours a week. Personally, things have settled somewhat and I am eager to get involved with an organization(s) that support issues I feel strongly about.
I have a strong passion for women's issues/causes that strive to end the professional and racial discrimination and violence against women. I follow organizations whose missions is to help provide women with access to health care and education. I want to help raise awareness of the challenges women face while empowering them to improve their lives through education and mentorship. I am currently co-president of a nonprofit organization made up of women (The Oak Park Women's Guild). Our mission is to support the underprivileged members of our community through fundraising and philanthropic events.
My introduction to the idea of helping others started at an early age. My father was the product of a poor family but because of his parents diligence and strong work ethic, my dad was able to go to medical school. My father eventually became a surgeon. At a young age he instilled both the importance of helping others and education while raising my social awareness. I grew up in an affluent small Michigan town where 35 years ago the services of 911 and EMS did not exist. Health care providers did not know how to perform CPR. My dad was instrumental in bringing these services to our small town as he recognized that it was not acceptable for patients to be taken to a hospital in a hearse.
At a young age, I recognized that we as a family were having different discussions at home than those of my peers. In effort to raise social awareness of the struggles of poor, less fortunate children, my dad had my brothers and me participate in letter exchanges with children in Africa. My memories are vague as I was 8 at the time, but I recall exchanging letters with a young girl whose wish was that her family would receive a sheep for Christmas. I remember reading that letter just stunned.
Rather than buy me toys, my dad preferred gave me flash cards and encyclopedias. He created games to challenge me to learn the capitals of the states in America as well as the chronological order of the United States presidents and vice presidents. Education, education, education was a mantra in our home. I am acutely aware that I would not have the successes I have today without the privilege of being able to go to school.
My mother, too, introduced me to the importance of social awareness, to look beyond myself. She was president of the State of Michigan's NOW chapter and actively participated in the effort to ratify the ERA. She dedicated a large period of her life for the betterment of women. I remember marching down Pennsylvania Avenue with thousands of women and children in support of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The rally's cries echoed in my ears all day that day.
I have achieved many conventional successes-happy marriage, motherhood, career satisfaction, monetary wealth but what is the purpose of it all if it is not used for a purpose greater than myself? I want to DO something with my life other than myself and my family. My social awareness is vivid, I need a platform.