Listening for a Change: Meet Carolyn
“I’m used to being in places where you’re not appreciated…being with MomsRising, I’m appreciated”
#WeAreMomsRising uses personal stories to showcase what it means to be a mom, a woman, and a family member in America.
Today's #WeAreMomsRising story comes from Carolyn in Washington. Carolyn is a Beacon Community Hub Leader, part of a network of volunteer mom organizers partnering with MomsRising to develop leadership skills, build mom power in their communities, and make change at the local, state, and national levels.
Why did you become a MomsRising Beacon?
Someone asked me from a parent ambassador’s program.
I was in the first [Beacon] cohort. When we started, it was great. There were quite a few of us there, maybe 15 people. We came from all over. I knew a couple of them. Being there among all these women, I knew that they had talent. There’s something about them.
What’s your superpower?
I’m really good at making people feel good when they come into my bubble. Talking to them. Giving them the time to say, “How are you doing?” and looking them in the eye and waiting for a response.
I work at a food bank on Sundays. We open up at about 11. The people who are coming in are already having hardship. They don’t want anybody to make them feel any worse than they do already. One time, a man came in, and when I asked him how he was doing, he said, “I’m making it.” I bent down, looked at him, and said, “How are you really doing?” The tears started coming from him. He just told me everything that was going on.
I said, “We’re here. You know you have food for your family. When you come back, come see me.” He came back the next Sunday, and he said he felt so much better for me giving him that time. He gave me a hug.
It only takes a few seconds to make someone feel good.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work as a MomsRising Beacon?
I have accomplished quite a bit. Getting over the fear of talking to legislatures. Making appointments. I still haven’t conquered writing a letter.
I have mastered texting. I got to be a part of one of the texting banks where I got to do the talking. I love that part.
Next, I’d like to get better at talking in front of people, a big group of people. People that I don’t know. Being able to remember my thoughts. Not having paper in front of me. I’ve been working on that.
Another goal I’m working on is to get the mayor and our representatives together – invite all the Beacons – and have this conversation about gun rights, abortion rights, and people who don’t have housing. That might be too much to talk about in one meeting, but I want to do that.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
Someone broke into my car and smashed the window. This one place I went to wanted to charge me $1,200. My son says, “Mom, Google it.”
But they don’t make that window anymore. So I went to the junkyard. The guy there whispered to me, “You got your tools?” I came back with tools and ended up taking the glass from a junked car. I changed that window out myself. It was hard, but I did it. I impressed myself!
Now the glass is keeping out the rain and keeping out the cats!
What’s been one of your favorite activities as a MomsRising member/Beacon?
We had an engagement at a place where moms and dads could bring their toddlers there to play. It was in support of the family medical leave act. They put me in the best spot, I got to greet people. It was so much fun, I didn’t realize that I was working. One of the leaders at the event came over and said, “Look at you! You’re just so good at this!” That warmed my heart.
I’m used to being in places where you’re not appreciated. And being with MomsRising, I’m appreciated.
Who inspires you?
My mom – she’s gone now – she said to me, whatever you do in life, be the best at it that you can be. And that’s all I do.
What would you say to someone considering becoming a MomsRising Beacon?
I would say, be like Nike and just do it. There are so many great things that come out of it. Finding out who in your town is also a Beacon or a member. Learning things. You don’t have to worry about child care, you can bring your children. That’s the best part. That made it really easy.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to MomsRising asking me who would be a good fit for this program. I think that there are so many people who want to be a part, and they don’t know how to ask to be a part. Sounds simple, but it isn’t.
To learn more about the Beacon program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.