By Barbara Way, FRWRC President
I was recently asked to talk about the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center, which made me sit down and reflect on not only what we do but why we do it. We have events which pull us together and give us a time to share and communicate but why do I choose to be a part of this community and why do so many women chose to become members? After all there are many wonderful organizations we can put our time, money and energy into.
What stands out for me is our mission and our purpose: to provide support, education and information to women in Warren County for the empowerment of their personal, family and work lives.
I emphasize the word support because this is a tangible and important part of what we do. We support with money through our grants and with these grants we provide education, information and what so many of us need, hope. Intangible as that is, without it all the rest can be superfluous. It is with that combination of tangible and intangible support that we lay the foundation for change.
There is a powerful fact coming to light and statistics back it up: when you educate a woman you create one of the most powerful changes possible. It’s a truth that keeps us, as an organization, moving forward and something we see on the faces of the women who receive these grants.
Our grants are not large, and yet every time these women tell their stories I realize how such a small amount of money can give hope and create a ripple effect of change.
It is a fact I’m seeing all around me—how we as women have the power to truly create change. We have a history in this country of doing just that—changing what needs to be changed.
Delving into the lives of women in this country is astounding. Women are and have continually been the backbone and creators of change. Cokie Robert’s book Founding Mothers reveals that the American Revolution came about not because our Founding Fathers decided to go to war, but because the wives, mothers and children of our Founding Fathers made sure they could and did. Abigail Adams continually pushed her husband and others to do more than just meet and talk about change. Martha Washington was a true force behind and in the lines, making sure there were food and supplies that almost always came out of her own pockets. These women and so many more did all of this and ran the farms, households, estates and businesses while their husbands were out talking, meeting and fighting. The women may have stayed home but they were actively and completely involved in making sure change happened.
We know that women have always done this. WWI and II women stepped up to the plate – over and over again. We know that if we want something to be done we just have to do it.
Major social changes, child labor laws, work conditions, the care of orphans, all these were put into action by women who saw a need and knew a change was necessary.
When I read about the lives of the women that came before us, I am impressed and awed by what has been accomplished and what can be done. Yet it also makes me feel closer to all the women that have come before. I realize I would not be here doing what I do without my own line of women: my mother, my grandmother and great aunt, my friends, my teachers and others who held my hand and supported me along my path.
The astonishing lives of women are everywhere and how I wish that these women’s lives were as well known as men’s. But sadly they are not. It’s up to us to remember and make sure these stories are not forgotten, and that we in our turn create our own stories.
I know without asking that our own small membership pool is filled with women who have stepped up to the plate through big and small contributions, PTAs, scouts, 4-H, sports clubs, churches, social and community organizations, libraries or service organizations and the list goes on.
Women can and do change the world. Not only that, we can do it and have fun. Just by sharing a meal and sitting down to laugh together things change. I love that and we need to remember we can have fun.
The last thing I’d like to do is to acknowledge that each of us has the power every single day to change the world, just by changing one woman’s life. Remember as you change her life you change her children’s lives and all their children’s lives and so on, just as you change your own.
It is as simple and as complicated as that.
“A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” – Cullen Hightower