"To you and your kind much has been given, and from you much should be expected." Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic
Wise words, and an accurate reflection of the directive myself and other attendees of the 2013 Aspen Leaders Action Forum were given throughout the event. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our communities and to those that came before us to be pioneers of change.
My Action pledge? I will change my community by providing jobs to 50 low income and immigrant women over the next 2 years, and offer them financial literacy education as a part of training.
I make this pledge in the name of my grandmother, the woman that inspired my battle cry for natural living, eco-cleaning products and environmental change. I didn't start this journey as an activist for green cleaning; instead, like so many of my fellow attendees, this cause chose me through her.
A housekeeper from the West Indies, my life changed when she lost her battle to cancer; an illness she contracted after spending decades inhaling toxic cleaning fumes. My drive to honor her, bring meaning to the life she lived and the memory she left, led to the launch of GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning. To paraphrase Victoria Safford's words in The Small Work in the Great Work, with her senseless death I was called to stand on this plot of ground. To the world it may seem like a small step - green cleaning - toward a momentous goal - toxin-free environments - but to me, my staff and our clients it is sacred ground because we honor it and bring to it a blessing of sacrifice and risk.
With our eco-battle cry in mind, each day we service client homes and offices for the purpose of making life better for ourselves and our customers. Because of Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning, my employees work in a toxin-free environment, and the people that live in the spaces they clean enjoy better health and a better quality of life because we exist; because we took up this battle cry.
Victoria Safford noted the challenge of running, accepting your calling and doing good in the world at the same time is difficult. As a small business owner I face challenges every day, yet I know I was called to do this work. I rely on the guidance of mentors and corporate leaders such as the Goldman Sachs Foundation to stay strong in my commitment to mentorship and leadership within my community. Not content to simply co-sponsor events such as the Aspen Leaders Action Forum, Goldman Sachs Foundation leads by example with their commitment to the 10,000 Small Businesses and 10, 000 Women programs they offer. They are attempting to live up to and be the modern example of the words Teddy Roosevelt spoke years ago.
Following their example, I hold fast to my commitment to provide opportunities for my employees to advance. Like my grandmother, many of them come from low income or immigrant backgrounds. The coaching, personal and financial development support we provide is a part of my pledge to honor my grandmother's memory by helping others like her lead better lives.
My journey to make and keep this pledge has put me on a path that is not always easy, but it must be done if we are to create change in our communities and the world.
I think Teddy Roosevelt would agree.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.