I was honored to be named Today’s Woman magazine’s Most Admired woman in nonprofits for 2017. At the reception recognizing all of the honorees, I was asked to talk about the woman I admire the most.
As the years have gone by, my ideas about admiration have changed. So when I was asked to speak about a woman I admire, many people came to mind, but eventually one stood out, when I realized that the woman I most admire I have the privilege to be around every day.
She’s the woman who comes to our shelter.
She’s the one who feels helpless and asks for help.
The one who feels hopeless and seeks hope – that the feeling that she’s feeling now won’t last forever.
She’s the one who thinks she can’t, but looks around her and sees she can.
She’s the one that after years of feeling she’s lessthan, is willing to take a chance and lean on others to find she’s more than enough.
She’s the one willing to take that first step in faith without the need to see the whole staircase.
She’s the one who has been battered either physically or emotionally but learns to say ‘no more.’
She’s the one who discovers drowning her sorrows in alcohol is futile because sorrow knows how to swim – and that a needle or a pill doesn’t cure the pain, just extends it.
She’s the one who finds out that you can run, but you cannot hide – that when she begins facing life clear-eyed and without fear, anything is possible.
She’s the one who has gone back to those she harmed in the past to make amends, who knows full well that today it’s her actions – not her intentions – that are the measuring sticks of success.
She’s the one who has gone back to get her GED, who’s gone on to college, who is back in the workforce, paying her bills.
She’s the one who has her children back in her life, who is learning what being present and accountable truly means.
She’s the one who now recognizes what true friendship means, that being there for someone without reward is the reward in itself.
She’s the one who gives back to the newcomer, the woman who is lost, and tells her ‘I know how you’re feeling. Follow me. I know the way.’
She’s the one who left the road to death and found life – and now shares the map.
She’s the one who sat in our classes wondering why in the world she was even there – who now conducts those classes.
She’s the one who hated our mantra to ‘trust the process’ but now lives by it.
She’s the one who came to us lost and beaten, and now runs our women’s program.
She’s the one who came to us wounded and now runs our clinic.
She’s the one who used to cook up excuses, but now runs our kitchen and teaches other women there are fewer higher honors than feeding your sisters.
She’s the one who came into our detox begging to leave, but now spends her days and nights convincing women to sit still for just one more day.
She’s the one who knows that she wasn’t a bad person trying to get good, just a sick person trying to get well.
She’s the one who makes me rise each and every day committed to doing all I can to empower her and all the others who reach out to us for help.
She’s the one who inspires me to do my best.
She’s the one who – long after I am gone – will carry the message, the compassion, and the commitment to do what we do, which is provide a place where hope is indeed found.
She is the one that I humbly acknowledge this honor for.
And she and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.