Today, I joined 50 More magazine readers, and about 350 other people at the Welcome Reception for the CARE National Conference in D.C. Most of you probably know CARE as the creators of the iconic Care Packages delivered to World War II soldiers. Empty nesters and lonely long distance couples everywhere went on to pilfer that idea to provide sustenance and a sweet and practical way to say “I’m thinking of you” to loved ones.
Since then, CARE has expanded its mission to not just center around humanitarian aid, but really to address the root causes of poverty by empowering women in some of the poorest communities in the world. Its programs focus on issues like: education, HIV prevention, sanitation, preserving natural resources and expanding economic development.
CARE also organizes a National Conference each year starting with a day-long crash course in lobbying and culminating in a day-long storming of Capitol Hill. Here’s what it boils down to: real people (exhibit A: me and the More readers) lobbying Congress (exhibit B: meetings with Representative Lynn Woolsey and Senator Dianne Fienstein, among others) on real social issues that matter.
I’m energized, excited, anxious and — I’m not going to lie — a little intimidated. But in our welcome pep talk a CARE representative said it best: “These policy makers work for you.” That was exactly what I needed to hear.
You know what else was great to hear? The brief intros each woman gave about herself explaining who she was and why she traveled (17 states represented!) to be there. I really liked:
**50 was a permission slip to reinvent myself. (Kyle from Atlanta)
**This is me at my best. (Bonnie from Houston)
The More group is called the 50 Over 40 Making a Difference. Those who know me know I have a few years until I hit 40 and I certainly don’t think we should wait until 40 to be our best self, but these women are simply bad ass. My turn at a brief into was: “I work for More and I want to grow up to be just like you.”
That must have sold them, because there were laughs accompanied by “isn’t she adorable” type comments. It looks like I have 50 new big sisters to learn with and from over the next couple of days. To all my non 40-year-old friends out there: I promise I’ll do my best to represent!
After last year’s Conference, CARE’s advocates helped convince 20 members of Congress to co-sponser a bill combating violence against women around the world. I’ll keep you posted on what comes from the 2009 gathering.
Posted by: Mariela