This past weekend, my two boys and I had the opportunity to visit the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The visit was organized through our congregation, Temple Micah, as part of its celebration of Dr. King’s birthday. Both the sermon, delivered by a guest speaker, Rabbi David Saperstein, and the visit to the stunning memorial site along the tidal basin, reinforced for me why I joined Washington Area Women’s Foundation and why the work of The Women’s Foundation and the non-profits we support is critical and relevant now more than ever.
Among the many quotes that flow through the memorial, one in particular stood out to me: “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” And yet, as Rabbi Saperstein pointed out so eloquently in his discourse, the world in which we live is far from what Dr. King wanted for us. While Dr. King’s legacy is the civil rights movement as we know it, he was fundamentally about equality and economic justice for all and Rabbi Saperstein’s observations prompted me to think: What would Dr. King say about the more than 200,000 women and girls in our region who live in poverty and an even greater number who struggle to find a way to have three meals a day? What would he say about an education system that is failing so many children in our region and perpetuating the cycles of poverty that have existed for generations? What would he say about the women and girls in our region and across the country who continue to face barriers to their economic success and well-being?
What he would probably say is that he is not satisfied, that we should not be satisfied with the status quo. He would want us to act – to do whatever we can to address these inequalities. For better or for worse, so many of Dr. King’s themes still resonate today. We can’t let go of “the fierce urgency of now;” we must continue to find ways to come together as a community, join forces, and help our neighbors in need, particularly as needs reach an all-time high and government support wanes and dwindles.
Each year, on Dr. King’s birthday, I recommit to the ideal of creating the “beloved community” that Dr. King aspired to. I use the day as a way to reflect on how far we have come and how far we have to go. And I find a way each year to mark the day by joining in the MLK Jr. National Day of Service. This year, I will be serving with my family and and other Foundation staff and donors at A Wider Circle, one of Washington Area Women’s Foundation Grantee Partners. I hope you will consider joining me.
Dr. King believed that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere….Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” That concept is at the heart of what Washington Area Women’s Foundation is all about. The Washington region cannot flourish if the more than 200,000 women and girls in our region continue to live in poverty. When women and girls do not have access to resources and the opportunity to improve their lives, it is an injustice that affects us all. Now is the time to work together to ensure that all women and girls in our community have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
I hope that you will join me and my family on January 16th at A Wider Circle. Volunteer activities will include:
- helping families select donated furniture and home goods;
- sorting donated items;
- painting the warehouse;
- helping pick up donated goods.
Volunteer shifts are from 10am – Noon and 1pm – 3pm on January 16th. To sign up for a shift, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202)347-7737 x211. To ensure that all who want to volunteer are able to participate, please sign up only if you are sure that you will be able to join us on the 16th. I look forward to seeing you there.
Nicky Goren is president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation