If you made even one foray onto the internet on March 8th, 2017, you knew it was International Women’s Day. Pictures of mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends bombarded you across all social media platforms with captions ranging from cheesy and cliché to touching and empowering. International Women’s Day is always on March 8th and it comes right in the middle of Women’s History Month.
I deeply appreciate Women’s History Month because it provides a chance for me to reflect on the rights and privileges I enjoy as a result of women who came before me. I write about Women’s History Month because I believe in celebrating the strength and resilience of women and because I truly believe the words of Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the UN: “When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life.” And I write about Women’s History Month on this blog specifically because Hope Clinic epitomizes a space where women are assumed to be intelligent, capable and tenacious.
On a day-to-day basis, our lobby hosts a diverse array of women; from infants swathed in pink to grandmothers holding the hands of their grandchildren. While we welcome and celebrate our clients who are men, the typical Hope Clinic client is female. Though this client may technically be ‘visiting’ Hope Clinic, her courage and determination are its foundation. Despite potential fear, anger, grief, shame, financial burdens or lack of a support system, this female client consistently returns to Hope Clinic in an act of boldness. She chooses to be here, challenging and growing herself through classes, counseling and mentorship. She rejects the stigma behind asking for help, knowing it to be one of the hardest and most important things she may ever do. This Hope Clinic woman is the strongest woman I know.
This female client is also protected, supported and fought for by another faction of unstoppable women: the volunteers and staff of Hope Clinic. Everywhere I look, I see women demonstrating characteristics I desire to emulate: in the fierce and loyal leadership of CEO Renee Rizzo; in the powerful compassion of a volunteer in her 22nd year of serving Hope Clinic; in the impossibly expansive knowledge of my young female colleagues; even in the indispensable organization and focus of our Belmont work-study student.
The day directly after International Women’s Day was our “Hope for the Future” Gala. Throughout the morning, several female staff members and volunteers loaded and unloaded cars, transported materials into Houston Station and helped transform it into a beautifully decorated backdrop for our gala. A female board member opened the evening with prayer, Nicole C. Mullen led us in worship and our female gala chair introduced Renee as the keynote speaker. After Renee’s speech, a client eloquently and honestly shared her beautiful journey with Hope Clinic. As the guests filed out of the venue, our tribe of women could be seen whisking off table cloths, packing up supplies and loading cars before driving off into the night. This one event was a perfect demonstration of the capability and compassion that Hope Clinic Women exhibit constantly.
By no means do I write this blog to diminish the value of men or to ignore their great importance. I could easily write pages about the many men campaigning for Hope Clinic and enabling its success. But it is still March; it is still Women’s History Month, and I would be remiss if I did not especially praise the commendable women that surround me every day. To the female clients, volunteers and staff of Hope Clinic: you amaze me, and I am thankful for the example you set.