Sunday, November 4, 2007

Independent Woman (Destiny's Child)

Hit play to listen/watch:

I spent a few hours yesterday in Prince George's County Maryland, helping to facilitate a "Voice and Vision" session for the Washington Area Women's Foundation. Although I've been on the Board for 7 years, I have been focused on pretty much everything except our programmatic work in an intense way. Don't get me wrong, I can recite the stats and progress and impact and all that good stuff. DC Metro is a "tale of two cities:"

- Highest paid women in America, most highly educated women in America, 4th fastest growing city for women entrepreneurs, and for God's sake we've got a woman likely to be a presidential candidate who lives in our midst.

BUT, we've also got

- The highest rate in the country of new incidences of HIV in women, and 1 in 3 kids lives in poverty - more than 75% with single women headed households.

See, I didn't even have to check my notes to lay that out.

But yesterday, instead of talking about it conceptually, I was with some women in Prince George's County who, themselves, have come through the fire and are now doing amazing work to help lift struggling women out of poverty, away from destructive behaviors and relationships, and to independence.

Deborah Avens runs a non-profit called Virtuous Enterprises. Kim Rhim runs one called Training Source. These women are doing God's work for sure - against a fair number of odds and in an area that is somewhat forgotten in a Metropolitan area where many people don't really know the geography and demographics of their hometown. Prince George's County is the ultimate tale of two counties. While folks there don't like to hear it said this way, these women - and others who were there - most definitely framed up the "inside the beltway" vs. "outside the beltway" dynamics of this county - which is the most affluent minority-majority (aka majority black) "municipality" in the world.

I fell lucky and proud to work with the Women's Foundation and with women like Deborah and Kim - they inspire me to keep investing in the future of independence - financial and otherwise - for women in our community.

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