SARAH VERBIEST

Looking Forward , Sarah Verbiest, founder of Every Woman Southeast, reflects on the new year and what it holds.

Friends and colleagues,

All of us have been touched by the recent violence in Newtown, CT. There has been for me, however, a sense of shared community across the nation and a true “knowing” that I’m part of something greater than myself. There is a force that unites us that is more powerful than anything else – the love we feel for our babies and children. This love and connection is transcendent – beyond politics, heavy workloads, worries about the future, the fiscal cliff… And in this season of light, it is a beacon of hope for us all as we strive so hard to make sure that we fulfil America’s promise to our smallest and most vulnerable citizens.

In this last post for 2012 we want to include an exerpt from President Obama’s Speech on December 16th in Newtown. I had the gift of listening to this speech with my teenage daughter – she reached over and held my hand. It was a beautiful moment even as these words brought me to tears as they resonnated so deeply.

As we move into the New Year, there is much to anticipate with joy and much work to do. For now, we wish you peace, time to rest and hope for what is to come.

Warmest Wishes,

Sarah Verbiest
Director – Every Woman Southeast Coalition

“You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.

With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there’s nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet we also know that with that child’s very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us, that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them.

They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.

It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged. Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”  President Barack Obama

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