Did you notice that yesterday was International Women’s Day? I know this post is late, but as a boy mom, I am more hesitant to jump on the girl power bandwagon then I might have been a decade ago. After years of “are you going to try for a girl?” and sympathetic sighs when I say I have two boys I am a little wary of the gender value pendulum swinging past equilibrium. I concluded, however, that just as celebrating one of my boy’s birthdays doesn’t diminish my other son’s value, I am not denigrating men by taking a moment to celebrate women. In that spirit, I am sharing how and why my business is going to give back this year.
Disclaimer: In my upbringing I was taught that giving is private, it isn’t something you do for an audience. So, I almost didn’t write this post. My desire isn’t attention or affirmation and it feels self-promoting to talk about my donations. Yet, I like knowing the brands I buy are doing good things; such as when my coffee is fair trade, or that my tote from Better Life Bag employed and empowered a woman named Karima. As a client of Jessica Ormond Events, it is good for you to know how you are partnering with me to make an impact in the world. It might only be a small ripple from a tiny pebble. But, in a time when it feels like everyone is yelling about what should be done about all our problems, it’s good to know what is quietly being done.
As early as high school, I’ve had a soul conviction of the significance and beauty of every woman. I’m passionate that the girls and women in my life recognize their worth. When you hint that you might, are kind-of maybe, considering pursing a dream, I go into obnoxious cheerleader mode. Because, when you live from confidence in your value, beautiful things happen. You can make an amazing impact in your world. This passion developed when I realized that we, especially females, rarely see ourselves accurately. At the least, this skewed perspective tricks us into living small and safe, and at the worst it leads to unhealthy or limiting choices.
In my life, I never felt like my gender hinders my dreams or opportunities, or felt undervalued simply because I’m a girl. I am blessed. Privileged. Not because I was born with a silver spoon (by American standards). But because I live in a country that allowed my childhood experience to graduate from low middle class—broken vehicles seemed catastrophic, second-hand clothes, and a squeaky tight grocery budget that counted every penny—to comfortable middle class including some of life’s “extras”. I live in a time and place that allows me the unmerited opportunity to pursue building my own business—providing a luxury product—while structuring my work load so that I am available to my children. I have choices. Amazing choices.
Yet, to she whom much is given, much is expected. It is not enough for me to responsibly use my advantages, to encourage the gals in my sphere. If my beliefs don’t work outside of my socioeconomic circle, if they don’t push me out of that circle, they are at best benign. Too many girls and women don’t have choices, or have made choices based off the lie that they are less than, unworthy.
How do we assist those women? Especially when misapplied charity can dehumanize as much as the lie that women are worth less than men. If we believe all women (all people) have value and worth, then we need to assist in ways that dignify and empower. First, relief for the crisis and then support as they build their lives. (For more on this philosophy, check out Poverty Cure.)
I have picked three organizations that seek to preserve and reinforce the dignity of the ladies they serve by offering skills and tools for self betterment. Why did I pick organizations that primarily support women? Because, women have influence, even when they don’t have power. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.” When women’s lives improve so do the lives of their families and communities.
I will give a 5% of the profits of every wedding to each of these three organizations. (If you prefer that the total 15% from your wedding go exclusively to one of these organizations let me know when you reserve your wedding date.)
HOPE empowers and trains impoverished women (and men) in undeserved areas to recognize and use their talents to better provide for their families and eventually reinvest into their own communities. This improvement is accomplished through savings clubs, job training, and micro-financing.
This home will have 24 beds and be a safe, free-of-charge, privately funded 15-month program for Lubbock women in crisis. The crisis could be exiting the criminal justice system or abusive situations, overcoming dependency on drugs or alcohol, or needing a GED or job skills. New Legacy will provide them a safe place and skills to rewrite their stories.
Did you know that Lubbock is a human trafficking hub? Unfortunately many of the characteristics that make us a commercial center of the South Plains also make for an ideal hub for modern slave routes. In 2016 over 50 cases were filed in Lubbock County for Trafficking, yet there are less than 35 beds in all Texas residential facilities to assist child victims. The One Vo!ce Home will offer female victims of Domestic Minor Trafficking–primarily 11-17 years old–a safe home in West Texas for restoration and the opportunity for a new beginning.
All my couples have the option of donating their wedding flowers. You pick the location (hospice, assisted living facility, children’s home, etc.) and I will re-purpose your flowers into bedside arrangements and deliver them the Monday following your wedding.
I will also consider other giving opportunities as they arise in addition to, but not in replacement of, the above commitment. For example, in February I donated flowers for a dinner that was raising funds for work with the Amarillo refugee community this summer.
At the end of the year, I’ll write a follow-up post sharing the impact we made together. While we’ll never know how big the impact becomes, where the ripples reach, you can at least see how big of a pebble we were able to launch together.
Edited 4/12/17: Unfortunately, because these charities take a stand for the most vulnerable of women, and that means using words and phrases that attract the unsavory, this blog post has attracted more spam than I can consistently keep cleared out of my comment queue. Regrettably I am turning off comments to this post.