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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL
11 October 2019
Today is the International Day of the Girl and listening to the wonderful things that girls have done to help the world made me think of not girls who made a difference in my life, but females of all ages and I thought I would celebrate some of them here.
The first woman who made a difference in my life was Sister Anne, my typing teacher. She was a Daughter of Charity, an organization that devoted itself to service. In addition to all the other things she did, I remember that every day she took lunch to a man who was shut in, who lived about 3 blocks from the school. I went with her most days and became friends with him. I don't remember when or why we stopped--probably when she was transferred to Arizona. She also befriended a family of Asians who lived near the school. Right now where the school was is a ritzy area surrounding the cathedral with the washing machine agitator look with fancy apartments, but when I went to school there it was a slum and this family with eight children lived in one room in this run down apartment. We visited them often, they were instructed in the Catholic faith and everybody got baptized. I was godmother to two of the children.
My friend Jeri's mother, Helen, had the home I always hoped to have. It was the place in Berkeley where everybody congregated and Helen was always available to provide food and drink. She was also a wonderful person to talk with when you had a problem. It was in her kitchen where Walt proposed to me.
Davis is a very service-oriented city and there are more than a few women whom I have admired over the years. My friend Joan, who died recently, didn't let physical problems get her down. When I first started spending time with her, she was teaching writing to older people who wanted to record their life memories. Later, though wheelchair bound, she worked tirelessly for literally years helping to remind people to vote. She had a group of people who met weekly to send out postcards to hundreds of people. I can't begin to think of all the lives she might have changed.
One of the first women I met in town was Dair Rausch, who lived hear us and who was perhaps one of the most giving women I have met. She and her doctor husband worked in Mexico once a year or more with poor people there, she brought people to this country, anybody who needed help financially or otherwise, Dair was there to provide it. She had a garage full of clothes and food to give people in need. When Eduardo was living with us, she gave him a job painting her house. I'm not sure it needed it, but he needed money and she had a job for him. I haven't seen her in several years, as she now lives in a facility 20 or so miles from here and neither she or her husband are in good health, but whenever I think of people who have "made a difference," Dair is always at the top of my list.
As are Ellen and Shelly, who have worked for LGBT rights for decades. They have been the visible face for gay rights in Davis and I believe they won "citizen of the year" one year. In addition to working for gay rights, they also have worked to feed the hungry, set up an annual thanksgiving dinner for anybody who needed some place to go, organized a gay pride day each June, arranged for displays of the AIDS quilt when it came to California, and I can't begin to remember all they have done in the many years I have known them.
There are so many other women who have made a difference in the lives of people in Davis, most of them involved with Citizens Who Care, which provides social support services to Yolo County adults and respite care for their family caregivers.
I can't forget lin mcelroy (no capital letters her preference), the women who changed our children's lives. It was lin who started the Sunshine Children's Theater and got our kids started in theater. I wonder what our kids would be doing today if they hadn't been in lin's circle for so many years.
My mother, of course, has made a difference. The Hospice movement now is quite common but when Hospice of Marin began in 1975, it was only the second such organization in the country, the first being in Boston, I think. It was run by two people--a doctor and someone else. They advertised for clerical help and my mother showed up. She worked with Hospice until she was unable to work any longer, which would have been about 30 years later. She worked in the office until they opened a thrift shop and then they worked in the thrift shop for many years. At the time she retired, she was the oldest person working for Hospice and the person who had worked their the longest.
The thing about "service" is that we never know when the things we do many change a person's life. Someone told me recently that I changed her life in high school because she started reading because of me. I have no memory of what I did and I certainly never thought I was making a difference that someone would remember vividly decades later.
In these days of such hate and bullying and things like that, it's good to remember that staying positive and refusing to sink to the lowest common denominator may seem like nothing to us, but could be having a difference in the world of someone we may have know.
Do something positive today!
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