Kathryn Downing’s definition of courage – “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Working at the Foundation, I see so many women speaking their minds and telling their hearts. Courage is really that simple. And it is that hard.
I was moved by Susan Burton’s story of one of the clients of New Way of Life Foundation, Tiffany. Susan found Tiffany crying one day because she didn’t know how to turn on the shower; because the hardware/technology had changed during the time she was incarcerated. Susan told her, “I know a lot has changed in the world. And you’re not alone.” When I heard Susan’s words, I felt less alone; I felt comforted. And I felt so proud that she was a Foundation grant partner, knowing that she was there to help women like Tiffany re-enter society. Everyone deserves a friend/champion/big sister like Susan Burton.
Anna Deveare Smith not only transformed herself into a juror in the Rodney King civil trial; she transformed herself into that juror transforming herself into other jurors. The layers upon layers of her “channeling” were remarkable. What a gift. And what a thrill to be in conversation with “Maria.” I felt like I was talking to a friend. And I felt like I saw the LA riots from a different vantage point; as an adult today, versus the college student I was at that time.
I loved seeing our CEO Judy Patrick so at home among the audience, thanking our honorees, and inviting them to make a gift to the Foundation. I saw her speak her mind by telling her heart. I was proud and inspired. She was the Judy I know so well: relaxed, focused, determined, passionate, and full of faith. How wonderful that our 300 plus guests had the opportunity to experience her in that way, too.
Yes, indeed, it was an amazing night – and an opportunity for us all to heed colleague Kim Kenny’s advice before the event began: “Our job tonight is to turn new friends into family.”