Sunday, we celebrated International Women's Day. I spent the prior day with my mom, sister and niece shopping, eating cake and catching up.
On the two-hour drive home, I took in the day, but was reminded how grateful I am to have amazing women in my life. Women that challenge and support me and my crazy big dreams. But also realizing how lucky my niece is to be surrounded by strong women who support her in all her endeavors.
Many young girls and women aren't so lucky and it's our duty to step in and fill the gap. Here are four ways you can give to girls and young women in your community.
- If you are a momma of girls, ask your daughter if there is a gal in her class that could use support. Maybe invite this young girl to dinner, church, or help her out with clothes, school supplies or take her along on a family outing.
- Girls on the Run is a fabulous nonprofit that, according to their website, "is a life-changing program for 8-to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running." My mom has been involved with this organization for decades. I've witnessed firsthand how powerful the lessons these girls learn and the impact it makes in their life. Volunteer to be a coach, sign-up for the 5k and be a running buddy, attend a fundraiser, share info on social media or donate.
- Do you live in a college town? I do and over the years I've found various ways to support collage gals. Invite them for dinner. Take them out for dinner. Make a connection for them. Be a reference. Give them a job. Offer advice when asked. Invite them to come to laundry at your home. If you aren't in a college town, you can send care packages, encouraging texts and send pizza. Trust me, anything you do for a college student, that has to do with food or laundry, they'll be grateful.
There are tens of ways we can give to the women in our lives. Finally, we can even find ways to give to strangers. I love this story from my friend Melanie about a recent way she gave to a momma she recognized could use a little kindness and encouragement.
Yesterday one of my kids and I were at Noodles and Company for lunch. There was a mom with three small kids, maybe 8 and under. She was trying to order while the older two were trying to help watch the youngest (maybe three), who ran around the restaurant. Other customers looked at her with a "control your kids" look in their face, all the while she did her best.
After we finished our lunch, I went back up and bought her a cookie and a rice crispie treat. As I gave her the treats, I shared with her how she was doing a great job, that my kids are teenagers now, and I remember those days and it will get easier.
She teared up and said her husband was deployed and it meant a lot to her to hear the encouragement because she was raising her children alone. We chatted a few more minutes and I told her little's they had to eat their chicken and veggies before they could have the cookie.
When I returned to my table, my son asked me why I bought the treats and chatted with a stranger. I explained I remember taking him and his brothers out and it not going well. Most people were not kind about it, but occasionally, there would be someone who did a small act of kindness that made the craziness ok. I could now pass the kindness onto others.
We ran errands and went to his swim meet. I saw him hold doors open more, say thank you to salesclerks and cheer on other kids at his swim meet."
Friends, there are opportunities all around us to help women and girls we know, and the ones we don't.
Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"