The American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. During the month of May, I had intended to write a good number of blogs honoring mothers who are making a difference in today's world. Time-constrained, I only managed to get two written. Now I'm thinking, why stop with moms? Women don't have to be moms to be fostering connections as nurturing community builders, thereby creating positive change. Not that men aren't community builders, but today I'm just focusing on the women who weave the fabric of community relations that supports us all. (Besides, Father's Day is coming up -- they'll be honored in due time).
I can't possibly name all the women I know who are important in different ways, mostly because they connect people to others, create circles of support, or volunteer their talents to help those in need. People like Felena Hanson, Natalie Pluta, Ann Von Gal, Denise Sunseri, Katrina DeRoche are what makes a bunch of buildings in a geographical location a caring community.
The autism world has many Moms on a Mission and some are well-known on a national if not International level such as Areva Martin and Elaine Hall. Many of them have founded or co-founded major change-making organizations. Portia Iversen co-founded Cure Autism Now (since merged with Autism Speaks). Teri Arranga is the director of Autism One. Lisa Ackerman founded TACA. Wendy Fournier, Rita Shreffler and others co-founded the National Autism Association. Kate Winslet and Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir founded The Golden Hat Foundation. Polly Tommy founded The Autism Trust. Valerie Paradiz is the director of the Autistic Global Initiative (AGI) which is comprised of a committee of adults diagnosed with autism spectrum conditions, and exists to be an agent for the inclusion of people with autism. There are many women on the autism spectrum actively working with AGI to prepare a better future for those youngsters soon to be adults and needing training and guidance. (Read A Full Life with Autism to understand why this is necessary).
Then, there are others who are providing needed services in their communities. One of these is Valerie Saraf, mom to a young adult with autism. Valerie began sharing the information she amassed about autism with some local families over ten years ago. This grew to become Valerie's List, a free enewsletter that continues to provide news and resources to residents in Southern California who are involved in the ASD community. Merryn Affleck became an advocate and now a life coach to help families. Thais Palluau along with a few other moms in Naperville, Illinois wanted their young adults to be better prepared for transitioning to adult life and joined together to create a parent-driven program that operates twice a week; they each take turns volunteering alongside a teacher they have hired and interns.
Women write to share their stories and in doing so help others. Many women on the spectrum have shared their thoughts so others can learn: Judy Endow, Liane Holliday Willey, Ruth Elaine Hane. Moms who write include Kim Stagliano, Laura Shumaker, Debra Ginsberg, and the list goes on.
These are but a few of the women I know who every day make a difference in someone's life, giving of their time and knowledge to others. And it is the power and energy of nurturing women such as these that make this world a better place for us all.