My Minerva Moment



Since 2004, The Women’s Conference has honored extraordinary women with the annual Minerva Awards. These Remarkable Women & Remarkable Legacies have recognized a problem, identified the solution, and pursued it with strength, courage, perseverance and compassion.

Each one of us has experienced that moment when we first realized that we have the ability to make a difference and transform the life of someone we love, someone less fortunate or someone in need. That's your Minerva Moment!

So tell us –

When did you realize for the first time that you could make a difference? What was your Minerva Moment?  

Share your story in 200 words or less in the comments section below.


My Minerva Moment
  • Two years ago I took over the role of Executive Director of Mayslake Ministries, a 501.c.3 Not for Profit Christian Ministry organization based in Chicago. As the Ex. Director, it is my responsibility to create new spiritual enrichment and outreach programs for men and women of all ages. Last year I created our Vets Ministry, which offers weekend retreat experiences to all military personnel suffering from the devasting effects of PTSD. These retreats are offered FREE OF CHARGE to our brave men and women of the Armed Services from any war. I believe these retreats are making a difference in the lives of the soldiers that we are serving. We have be able to offer these retreats to homeless vets, and soldiers throughout the Chicagoland area. Through this spiritual enrichment program, I believe that our military are taking the first steps toward a healing of mind, body, and soul, which is so integral to one's faith and family life. These free retreats are also open to spouses and significant others. In order to offer these retreats free of charge, I have also had to seek creative ways to fundraise the money for this worthwhile program. People have been very generous and gracious on behalf of the Vets. I feel I am an Architect for Change.

    Posted by maalit99, 8 July 2010.

  • Yes I have lost many to death, my nephew in a car crash, friends to cancer, my papa from a heart attack and my beautiful mama from old age. I have slept on floors and stole food to feed myself. I have done things that I am not pleased off, but survival can make you do crazy things. And seeing others who have so much and waste it, angers me, for I came from poverty fighting everyday for my survival, wondering why was I not born with a silver platter? Somewhere it this story, it got better, I worked in some Hollywood films, began teaching Yoga and Meditation, met a great man and married. But all through this, nothing will prepare me for my Minerva Moment. It was 1990; I went to India for my very first leading role in a movie. We were driving with some Bollywood producers on the streets of Bombay, as it was known back then. I kept looking at the people on the side of the streets under tents and in some areas wooden shacks were built over swamps. We drove for miles and there were so many people. I just could not grasp that moment just driving listening to some of the most beautiful Indian music I have ever heard at the same time I would look back to see this little girl taking a dump on the street. I turn to my director and asked him, “What are they doing on the streets?” he said, “They live there”. Everything went silent…just staring out the windows in SHOCK tears pouring down my face. I came back home to Los Angeles to a roof over my head, a car to drive, a telephone and food to eat. I have so much I thought, no matter how poor I am, I will always have more than they do! That little girl will forever haunt me, as I brush me teeth, washing the dishes or just the idea of flushing the toilet which I refuse to do until the urine has an odor. That little girl was my Minerva Moment and a reminder of all the women around the world who are less fortunate than we are!

    Posted by Ashaa8, 4 June 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment came last summer when I was volunteering with a group of young professionals at a local community center to distribute free lunches to disadvantaged kids. The lunches were lame -- a grape drink ‘juice’ box, a bag of cookies, a processed cheese sandwich, and an orange. Annoyed, I began talking to the kids now sitting at round tables full of empty grape drink boxes and faces full of cookie crumbs. Some of the oranges were already in the trash by the time I started my pitch about how delicious they are and really good for them too and started offering to peel them for the kids. They all just looked at me like I was from Mars and kept talking to each other. One of the adult staff people chimed in that the kids never ate the fruit in the boxes – only the junk food. One very shy 5-year old named DeShawn was sitting at a big table all by himself, trying to eat his rubbery cheese sandwich, and I asked him if he wanted me to peel his orange. He nodded (I think he felt sorry for me since my offers of help had been repeatedly rejected), and with more excitement than anyone should have over a piece of fruit, I pulled apart the segments and handed them to him, which he promptly popped in his mouth, smiling and chewing at once. He was so grateful; and then, like dominoes, almost every kid in the gym then raised their orange in the air and asked me to peel it for them. I looked around and thought to myself: “Really? Is this all it takes to go from the trash can to the stomach – someone to peel the orange? Had no one offered to peel the oranges before now?” That was my Minerva moment. I realized I could make a difference in the lives of underserved kids and help them eat better by doing something for them that other parents around the world do for their kids every day – peel their orange.

    Posted by MsMayor, 1 June 2010.

  • Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. I wanted to be like her. A real super-hero. Being a by-product of the world saturated with gadgets, my moment of being a heroine is as good as the battery of the gadget at the moment. In short, I am helpless and useless, so I supposed. I subscribed to this newsletter. I read all postings. Tears sting my eyes when I hear/read acts of heroism. But my reaction is as far as the box of tissues by my chair. I admire all these seemingly ordinary people who make changes. But me? I knew I’ve had this moment when I admitted to myself that I can never make a dent until & unless I stop being skeptical. Like the sticks of matches inside the box, I must make my own light. I have to help someone in need – that’s me!

    Posted by mindorenya, 1 June 2010.

  • A warm fuzzy feeling came over me. That tingling sensation that you feel when you know something good is about to happen. I can still close my eyes and see “that moment.” When your mind’s eye clicks like a camera and sears an image into place. And no matter how many years go by (15 years for me) you can still recall that moment as if you were looking at the physical photograph in your hands right now.

    I was standing in the Chicago Public Library with my mentee, Eureka, checking out books for her. We were in front of a display wall of children’s picture books and I picked up one that was a story on our greatest strengths. And in that one moment, a whole vision washed over me. Like a movie was being shown to me all at once. I saw this vision of a children’s book series to teach kids how to be their best self.

    I didn’t know what “that moment” was then. As I am not a writer, I thought for a long time that I was supposed to find a children’s author and give them the vision. That I was just to be the courier. But then another moment happened. A moment when, surrounded by girlfriends, I realized that vision was meant for me. That I am to bring this to life. And so last summer I started. Little children of the world, I hope to soon pass on this moment to you.

    Posted by Christine Nagle, 1 June 2010.

  • My minerva moment has been a gradual process that has consisted of chipping away my own darkness in my life first, by overcoming various stages of feeling disconnected, lost and not very empowered. Through the years I've learned new ways of looking inward and outward and have experienced awakenings that have led to positive growth towards the woman I am today. During of which, I've also began healing through looking through the lenses of individuals less fortunate, particularly women. I started becoming more aware of the imprisonment and lack of freedom of my own gender through slavery and abuse. A light went off inside me even through my own challenges and I knew that it was my duty as a woman to honor the ones who couldn't live freely, to do what I could to keep developing my own strength and empowerment. By doing so, I have a vision for wanting to create an outlet for women. A place for women to develop independence, self-worth, along with developing their passion in life. I'll look forward to making this vision come alive, as it will truly be my minerva moment. Until then, I'll keep reaching out small or large.
    Julie, in her 40's

    Posted by Julie, 1 June 2010.

  • My Minerva moment was when I was deeply moved by a story I was watching on the OPRAH (Winfrey) Show about a 14 year-old girl (Dawn-Marie Wesley) who committed suicide by hanging herself with her dog's leash, after being bullied and threatened to death by three girls at her high school.

    There I sat, at 130 in the morning, (having been watching the show when it repeated late night in southern California, and I was horrified by the fact that we, as a collective people, lost this beautiful life, due to the meanness and terrible acts of others.

    I was determined to tell the story in a feature film, in the hopes that even if one girl or boy saw the film and by doing so, decided not to commit suicide, and realized that they were not alone, that that would be my mission.

    So, I contacted the OPRAH show and then contacted the family-namely Dawn-Marie Wesley's mom, Cindy Wesley, who lived in the town of Mission, British Columbia, Canada. I called Cindy's number, and she happened to be the one to answer. Although she and had never met before, we talked for over an hour that day on the phone, acquired an instant trust with one another, and knew we had each just found a friend. It was also a bonding feeling we both felt of loss we had both recently endured. Cindy--in losing her daughter Dawn-Marie, and at that time, my mother had just passed away after a long illness.

    Cindy Wesley gave me the rights to tell her and her family's important story, although major studios had been interested in purchasing them. She said she gave me the rights because of the message I wanted to share with the film, and my reasons for wanting to tell it. I gave her no money as I didn't have any funding to do so, and could only promise to tell Dawn-Marie's story according to how we both felt it should be told, and that I would work to help prevent bullying/bullycides of teens, alongside her in any capacity I could with my film.

    With that said, I packed my bags, booked a place in Canada to stay at for a month, and flew into the unknown. I arrived in the small, rural town in Mission, British Columbia where the incident happened. I'd never been to Canada prior in my life.

    I realized upon arriving, I needed to tell a documentary on the story as well, to capture the images of the actual people involved in the horrifying incident and groundbreaking and precedent setting court case that followed Dawn's tragic suicide, where the three teens who tormented Dawn-Marie, were brought to trial by Canada's Crown Counsel.

    During that month, I filmed the documentary, paying fo rit with my credit cards, and prayed for the best. I was granted the only interview the Honorable Provincial Court Judge (a woman) granted any media. And the Judge had had requests from many news organizations etc, as the story had gained international media attention.

    I interviewed Dawn's best friend, Dawn's brother DJ-(who was th eone to find his sister hangin gin her bedroom) the lead bully charged in the case, and many othe rtownspeople, reporters, defendants lawyers, etc.

    Next, I flew to Washington D.C. for an interview with a Bullying prevention expert, returned to CA and completed the film.
    The 90-minute documentary was then honored by WOMEN IN FILM (WIF) as one of ten winners from over 1500 films submitted, for their prestigious film finishing fund award, for which I was humbled to receive.

    I've also been humbled, moved and deeply and profoundly touched by the teens who have contacted me by email, or in person after a film showing of the film at their school, to tell me they were being bullied, had been considering suicide, but that after seeing my 90-minute film "RATS & BULLIES: The Dawn-Marie Wesley Story", that they no longer wanted to end their life, saying they realized their life is precious as well as that they realized how devastated their families would be to lose them.

    I told these wonderful teens they weren't alone, there were resources out there for them, and urged them to report the bullying to their school administrators, which they said they would do.

    Making this film took me on an emotional journey, some of which was unexpected, and from knowing I have helped that one young girl or boy from taking their life, has made all the difference.

    A difference that one person can make. Thank you.

    Posted by CassM3, 31 May 2010.

  • I’m an adopted child with divorced parents. I was sexually abused as a preteen, in a violent marriage as an adult and raised a daughter all by myself since I was 23. In spite of all of that, I was an honor student and got my Bachelor’s Degree at a University, where I currently serve on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. I founded a program that helps to educate and support male professional athletes that arguably, changed the way the major sports leagues administer their athlete transition initiatives. I have appeared and featured on Oprah, Nightline, Newsweek, etc.
    BUT, my Minerva moment came on 5/15/10 as I watched my daughter walk across the graduation ceremonial stage with a 3.47 GPA from a great college. This was for all the times I wasn’t encouraged and told I couldn’t/wouldn’t amount to anything and felt less than. My earlier successes were great and quite fulfilling. But sometimes, I just felt so numb. But my daughter’s college graduation and our healthy relationship is my proof that I’m not damaged goods. They say you can tell a lot about the tree by its fruit. My fruit is good and wonderfully sweet.
    I really am ok.

    Posted by LondonDM, 31 May 2010.

  • I was 18 years old and found myself a divorced parent of a 4 year old without a high school diploma. I was working at Sears folding endless piles of tee shirts and bemoaning my life. One of my co-workers said get over it and suck it up this is how your life turned out. I stopped in my tracks...I will not let this be my life's path or relegate my daughter to the same future. I can make a difference with myself...I can get an education and commit myself to a better future for my daughter, I will make a difference for her. I left that job that day. I walked into the community college and requested/demanded they help me figure out how to get my GED and get into classes. They did help me and I am here 44 years later. I have spoken to schools, churches and young persons groups to inspire them and remind them that can live a passionate, self expressed life. That everyone can live their life beyond the circumstances and mistakes and choices that have tripped them up. My live is full of family, friends, partners and acquaintances that I have had an opportunity to make a difference with, the best part of the deal....they always make a bigger contribution to me.

    Posted by Ellen, 31 May 2010.

  • Can we honestly say we KNOW when we help someone unless we are told so?! Mom always told me to help others & I thought I was... Until it came time for me to put down the drink & admit I had a problem with drinking & more importantly decision-making. After working hard to get better & make changes to become a better person, I realized that I had a whole lot of life I could share with other women in order to help them get well also. I've shared my stories of pain, loss, & chaos I caused by making decisions that affected SO many people negatively. Change is not a destination but a journey & we must surrender. Since 2003, many women have encouraged me to continue to reach out to other women who want to get sober or help parents survive the loss of a child to another parent, for which I'm also experienced. I am grateful for my Minerva moment &i hope to always be willing to share! ~Sherril Niemann

    Posted by slkslk, 31 May 2010.