Why I Volunteer #WomensLives

This is not a sponsored post, but I was asked to write it for BlogHer, She Knows Media, and Public Radio International.  Two weeks ago, I was asked to write a post about women's lives. A few ideas swirled around in my head, but none seemed right until last weekend.



Some of you know that I'm active in my community and church. I'm always rushing off to one meeting or another as a volunteer, and all of them are working with youth. In some organizations, I work directly with the youth. In others, I plan activities for the children. 

Some of you may also know that I live in a rural farming community. It's a Christian community - predominantly Mennonite - with a lot of great people. When I moved here two years ago, it was like moving to Mayberry. I could let my children play outside by themselves. People waved when they passed each other on the road. Everyone knows everyone.  In a a town of 1,252 people and only one traffic light, what could happen?

Turns out a lot can happen in a small town. 

Rape. 

Cutting.

Suicide.

Divorce.  

Domestic violence. 

Incarcerated parents. 

A brutal murder of their friend and classmate.

Young girls today face issues that not even adults should have to face.  No child should ever know what rape is or have to walk down the street remembering their classmate whose young life was taken by a monster.

When I was a kid, I worried about getting good grades, who I would ask to spend the night that weekend, and if I could get away with not doing the dishes after dinner. I'm not even sure I knew what rape was, and I didn't know of anyone who had been murdered.   

I wish I could make the bad things go away and erase their pain, but I can't. I can't stop the evil that lurks in our small community and, yes, even in some of their homes.  I can't bring back their friend and classmate, nor can I undo the things these girls have experiences in their short lives.

But I can show them that they are beautiful girls who will grow up to be beautiful women, and I will be there for every step of their journey.

Although someone tried to break them, I will teach them that they are not broken.  They will be victors and not victims.

I, along with other adult volunteers, will teach these girls how to overcome their obstacles. How to triumph against evil. How to be successful, confident, and independent women.

They will know that they are loved. 

And that's why I volunteer. 

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