Washington Area Women's Foundation

Allow Me to Introduce Myself + the New Year's Resolution That Has One Woman Smiling Again

I’ve been working at Washington Area Women’s Foundation for a couple weeks now, and since I started, I’ve been wracking my brain for a way to introduce myself to this amazing new community I’ve joined.  My predecessor, Lisa Kays, suggested I start out with a blog post.  When Lisa gives me advice, I take it – I’m new to The Women’s Foundation, but I can already tell she’s left me with some big shoes to fill.

So, like I said, wracking my brain…. And then I stumbled upon a really great article, and I thought why not stick to my journalist roots, and tell someone’s story.  I came across the story at the Poverty News Blog, which had gotten it from The Independent Florida Alligator which is the student newspaper at the University of Florida.

Here’s the Story:

By now, you’re probably wondering what the story is, but there is a point to all this, and I’m getting to it….  You can read the whole story yourself by clicking here.  But to give you a synopsis: it’s about a Florida woman who has lived in poverty for the past two decades.  Marcee Winthrop says a series of bad relationships and the inability to find a job because of her appearance is to blame.  She’s missing a number of teeth and says that’s made it tough to find work, which has made it impossible for her to save enough money to get her teeth fixed – pretty tough for a woman whose nickname used to be “Smiley.”

This past New Year’s, Marcee made a promise to her 14-year-old daughter that they were going to get themselves out of poverty.  She’s gotten herself on the road to wealth creation by writing and self-publishing a book about her struggles.  Marcee sells “Poverty Revolution Part One: Skimming the Surface” for $20 a copy, mostly to University of Florida students.  She’s gotten attention around campus and that has resulted in a fan club (her daughter is president, of course) and the opportunity to take part in panel discussions around the community.  Because of the book, a local dentist has offered to help Marcee fix her teeth, and Marcee is planning on writing and publishing four more books.  Best of all, Marcee’s daughter says her mom is now her role model.

And Here’s the Point:

So, that’s a nice little story, right?  Absolutely, but it’s more than that.  Look beyond the surface and you’ll find so many inspiring details.  I think it took a great deal of courage for Marcee to admit to her daughter that they needed a change in their lives and to commit to making that happen.  It took so much creativity and dedication for her to write and publish a book, then market it despite being aware that her appearance needed improvement (by our society’s standards).  She created her very own fundraiser.  She touched the lives of students, who parted with their money, and she inspired a dentist to reach out and use his abilities to help her.  The story made it to one blog, and now I’m passing it along here.  So many lives touched by one New Year’s resolution…. And two lives drastically changed by creativity and determination. 

Nothing earth-shattering happened here – millions of dollars weren’t spent, policy wasn’t re-written, a celebrity spokesperson wasn’t involved.  But something really amazing and special happened because members of a community got involved with one another.  All of this goes beyond charity – it creates self-sufficiency.  And that’s what The Women’s Foundation and our space here online are all about.  In the coming months I’ll be sharing more stories from our region and elsewhere [including some great ones after Tuesday’s Leadership Luncheon], and I hope you’ll participate by sharing your own thoughts, stories, and opinions.  We’re a community – we need to interact, be active, and introduce ourselves.  I’m Mariah Craven, the new Communications Director at Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

  • Hi,

    I find your story highly inspiring. My job allows me to work with underserved communities daily- it’s heartwarming to read about people that are lifting themseves out of bad situations through creativity, honest assessment of their needs, and entrepreneurialism.

    I’m currently in a suburb of Chicago, but am adding you to my blogroll. And good luck at your new job.