March was International Women’s Month, and while we are moving into April, it is still worth mentioning that women have been trailblazers in their communities, right alongside their men.
These women overcame fear — much of which could have been hidden within the excuses of being too tired, too busy, a lack of money or not being comfortable in the forefront — to reach out, seek change and make a difference.
We begin with the understanding that as people in a community, we have certain civic duties and responsibilities. The first is to be a good citizen. Some duties — such as obeying laws, military service, voting or jury duty — we do without thought. But reaching out to support our community is not necessarily done easily, since the concept of doing so often is new. We need to take a look at our communities and discover what is needed — see a need, fill a need. And realize, in order to fill that need, it may mean stepping outside the comfort zones of family, church, co-workers, etc.
But as many women and men have done just that, they realized the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is more than a few words linked together. It is a statement of unity within your community.
There are rewards for unity or working in the community to fill a need. For some, it is just knowing they are making a social difference. Others gain fulfillment from helping others, or a sense of personal value and love, or simple gratitude. And sometimes, it is just hearing one’s children say, with pride, “You did it.” I felt that pride and heard it from my children after getting a school crossing sign, lights and a reduced speed on a busy street that elementary-school students had to cross alone.
As women, we need to realize that there are many things we can do to make a difference in our communities, but it all starts from offering some time and positive insight. Be the after-school hangout spot so your children’s friends will be safely supervised until their parents get home. Freely reach out to your community to make a change. It takes only one person to start a movement, and that someone may well be your husband, siblings, church member or casual acquaintance you touch.
Let’s follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt and those unfamed trailblazers who made a difference in your community and reached out to create unity.
Remember: “An individual has not started living until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
Sharon and Craig Butts live in Richmond Hill and are the founders of Unity in the Community.