Just last week we announced the recipients of the 2010 Minerva Award®. This week we want to share with you the many, many more Minervas among us in The Women’s Conference community.
On May 1st we asked you to tell us when you first realized that you could make a difference -- What was your Minerva Moment?
Hundreds of you have had Minerva Moments and recognize the power you wield in your day-to-day lives. Many of you have started foundations and nonprofits to answer a need in your communities and the world; others have used your time and skills to raise money or awareness on behalf of others. Some of you have stood up to abusive partners, and still others of you have taught your children the value of giving back.
Explore The Women’s Conference community’s many Minervas and Minerva Moments here, My Minerva Moment.
Below is The Great May Giveaway winning response, as well as the three honorable mentions. These women found the strength – sometimes in the face of adversity – to help the women in the Congo who had been brutally raped, to remember that giving back is something we can do every day, to reach out to AIDS patients, and to help other women who have been in abusive relationships.
My Minerva Moment occurred when I was a senior in high school. My mother was watching the Oprah Winfrey show as she normally did after work. One night she called me into the room and told me to watch something very important.
As reporter Lisa Ling told the horrific stories of women who had been brutally raped in the Congo I sat there, tears falling from my eyes. I was so moved to do something—anything!
My heart ached to help so I went before my school administration with the idea of a fundraiser. I was denied at first—told the topic was too racy. I fought for these women because their story needed to be told.
Eventually I received enough support. I ordered the transcripts from the Oprah Winfrey show, created a slideshow of images and retold the stories of these women in front of my entire community.
I put faces to stories, which made the topic real for people, who knew nothing of third-world suffering. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
I organized a weeklong bake sale to raise awareness. Donations came pouring in with notes of encouragement. We raised $1,100 and sent it to Women for Women International.
This was my Minerva Moment and it has become my life’s calling. I now work for a women’s magazine in NYC. There is no greater bond than that of one woman to another. It is a bond that knows no boundaries.
How great would it be if we were all capable of not only having "Minerva Moments" to share, but we can share what it means to have a "Minerva Lifestyle". So I challenge you all who are writing about your "moments" to really think about not just having "sprinkles" of kindness, greatness, compassion....but consider living a life full of these "Minerva Moments". So many of us take on causes which we excel at but we fail in our day to day life to be loving to our children, kind to housekepeers, compassionate with our .....you know where I am going with this. It is our interaction and relationships with others that allows us to live a "Minerva Lifestyle". Do you inspire every person you meet to be better in some way? Do you bring sunshine as you enter a room? As trivial as this may sound, it is these little acts that send out energy to others that they also deserve a "minerva lifestyle" and hey...before you know it, we are all "minervaing".....if such a "verb" even exist. And if it does not, well maybe it should since Minerva is a word of action so it should be a verb;-) Best of luck to all of you!
In 1995, my husband and I were active in a local church. Our pastor was very dynamic but vehemently homophobic, a trait I found troubling. After working for years in the fashion industry, I had many gay friends and a great compassion for the gay community. Rather than change churches, we decided to confront the issue by spearheading an outreach to AIDS patients. The church wanted no part of our proposal, so we pursued the ministry on our own, launching a weekly Bible study at a nearby hospice. Many of the men we ministered to were wary – they had never received love and acceptance from Christians before. One evening, a very ill young man learned I was going through fertility treatments and offered to pray for me. His sweet, simple prayer touched me – he’d wanted nothing to do with God just a few months earlier. He passed away right before his prayer was answered – I gave birth to my son eight months later. At his memorial, the young man’s family thanked me for making a difference in his life. In truth, he was the one who made a difference in mine. Today, my husband and I are still called to reach out to those the traditional church rejects and have a passion to touch all people with God’s unconditional love.
Being in an abusive marriage, hiding behind lies and not telling anyone because I felt ashamed; I took this energy to help others. One day at work a supervisor came to me and pleaded with me to help one of the female worker's who had been out "sick" for several days by asking the owner not to terminate her. She was getting out of the hospital after her husband abused her. She did not want to press charges because she had two small children and was afraid. I went to my car and brought a handful of domestic violence brochures in Spanish that I helped create with the Los Angeles DA's office explained that she needed to be safe for her children and her was a list of programs and shelters. The next week the supervisor asked for more brochures. She wanted to hand them out in her neighborhood and she found out there was another lady at work who was also being abused. I gave her a box of the brochures and later learned that the female worker was in one of the shelters and getting help for herself and her children. I decided to start a program "Refuse to Abuse" for high schools along with celebrities, the Los Angeles DA office and people who had been effected by abuse to educate kids and make them accountable to stop the abuse and don't become part of the cycle.