Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I suspect that many small groups are influenced by one person who has determination, perseverance, and commitment to a cause. Amanda and Jackie are two examples.
Pursuing her Ph.D. in Social Work, Amanda’s research studies focus on the plight of the homeless. For some, seeing those who are homeless can make us feel uncomfortable. Perhaps we even blame them for their situation, whether we attribute it to drug use (stop using), mental illness (take your medications), or some other occurrence (get a job) for which we believe them to be responsible. She is more than a researcher who merely studies factors impacting and contributing to homelessness. Amanda has compassion for those who live on the streets and is working to improve their quality of life. Struck by the lack of access homeless individuals have to adequate hygiene products and proper nutrition (something many of us take for granted), she founded the non-profit organization Giving Back Packs Los Angeles (www.gbpla.org). She does more than work to secure funding and products for the backpacks; Amanda goes out into the community to meet those she serves. She is dedicated to the cause of helping those who are less fortunate and tirelessly works to ease their pain. I believe that Giving Back Packs Los Angeles – and Amanda – will influence the masses for years to come.
(Photo courtesy of www.gbpla.org)
Jackie is proof that when quiet people have something to say, it’s important and they deserve our attention. She is the founder of DIY Bridal Network (http://www.thediybridalnetwork.com/) and just as importantly, has become a strong advocate in the Black Lives Matter movement. She is troubled by the continual violence against Black men. Instead of lashing out and spewing hatred towards police officers when Black men are killed, she speaks of the hurt and injustice that abound when the officers are killed, too. After the police officers in Dallas were murdered, she noted that people who had been silent up to this point were now outraged. Jackie quietly asked: Do all lives truly matter, or just some? She is saddened and angered by all of the violence and deaths; she condones none of it. She doesn’t believe in an eye for an eye or retaliation. Rather, she uses her influence to challenge our beliefs so we can improve the landscape of our nation. Her quiet and thoughtful manner is coupled with peace and love. Jackie wants us to look inward and question if we are unwittingly contributing to tension in this country. It can be uncomfortable to think we could have racist beliefs when we don’t perceive ourselves that way. (Check out this article for some insights: http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/02/how-people-whitesplain-racism/,) She wants us to have conversations to raise awareness and have empathy. Due to her influence, I believe the conversations have already started.
Whether we choose to change our city, our nation, or our corner of the world, we can all exert our influence. Every day, we are provided with opportunities to make things better. For instance, my friend Krista was so touched by the outpouring of birthday wishes she received that she announced she was going to pay the kindness forward to someone else. It was important to her that someone else feel joy. Not all of us may be able to start non-profit organizations or feel comfortable proclaiming our beliefs, but we can all be powerful influences in our own way. And in doing so, we can elicit great change. It starts with us.