SpicyCandyDC: Events: 2015 National Care Conference

Events: 2015 National Care Conference

on May 28, 2015

While much of what we write about is fun, we are also women with heart so I had the privilege of representing SpicyCandyDC at the 2015 National Care Conference.

The Helene Gayle Global Development Symposium was part conference, part celebratory send off to the President and CEO Helene Gayle.  From what I learned that day, and my research on her afterwards, was well deserved and a bit of a surprise!  For those of you who do not know CARE (actually you will probably discover that you do know of it!), CARE originally stood for 'Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe'.  It was originally intended to be a temporary relief organization. They guaranteed delivery to anyone in Europe within four months even if they had left their last known address and returned a signed delivery receipt to the sender which during that time of turmoil was a very big deal.  These days, UPS pays a major part in helping them achieve this. (At dinner they pledged $500,000 to making that happen!)

The first CARE packages were delivered on May 11, 1946.  As CARE's activities broadened, the acronym was changed to the 'Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere'.  Now it is often used on its own as just CARE.  I learned that as an organization, CARE focuses on working to help poor women gain access to proper resources, because women are the gate keepers to their communities and have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape from poverty.  Women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunities.  CARE has fought global poverty for nearly 70 years!  Under the direction of Helene, CARE has grown and thrived and she leaves behind big shoes to fill.

“Change takes time. It occurs bit by bit by bit, and suddenly you look back and the whole environment has changed. By being at the 2015 CARE National Conference, you became part of that change." - CARE board member Bo Cutter

As a participant in this year’s conference I was among 350 Conference participants from 41 states.  In the words of CARE: “Together we explored what global development will look like in the future, sharpened our advocacy skills, and learned about key legislative issues with a focus on food security, maternal, newborn and child health, and the prevention of gender-based violence. “  So what does that mean?  All of these are excellent causes but it was a lot of information, especially for a first time participant like me.  Since food is one of my passions, I focused on Ending Global Hunger.  Globally over 805 million people or about 1 in 9 people are chronically hungry.  While this number has dropped by 200 million since 1990, with constantly changing numbers and circumstances, there is still much work to be done.  For many Americans, gardening is a hobby that we take for granted that we have the resources and ability to choose where we get our food on a regular basis.  This act requires a comprehensive and coordinated US Strategy for global food security that focuses on women and smallholder producers and leverages natural resource management practices.  Food security is the ability of hungry population to grow, buy, and access adequate nutritious food themselves.

"Empowering women and girls is the right focus, not only because they are disproportionately affected by poverty, but also because investing in them yields the biggest bang for the buck.”-   Nicholas Kristof

One wonderful story of empowerment is the story of Carina Nicolas Zamora, my hero for the day!!  She is a beautiful Peruvian woman who is an entrepreneur and mother in the Andes Mountains of Ayacucho Peru.  She was given a loan of $100 and taught to raise guinea pigs, a local delicacy, to help reduce malnutrition with a stable source of protein and income for their family.  Today she continues to raise and sell guinea pigs to restaurants and local markets.  This conference was her first trip to America and you could see what CARE had done for her in her happy glow as she talked about how her life has changed and what she is doing now.  It was also very touching to hear the chefs speak of their experience and what drives them to support CARE and its efforts!

Another wonderful highlight of the conference was hearing U.S. Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis speak.  I have been lucky enough to hear him speak a couple times over the last year and every time has been a delight.  He must have sensed that this was not a first time crowd because he opted to skip some of his usual history simply stating you’ve all heard it so I won’t say it again.  Instead he gave many of these advocates a much needed verbal recharge.  “You must never give up. You must never give in, you must keep the faith and keep your eyes on the prize. Carry the message. Stand up! Speak up! Speak out! That’s what you’ve been doing. Keep doing it. And get in the way!”

One of the most touching but no less powerful speeches came from Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Her speech resonated even more coming on the day after Mother’s Day.  “Women are the heart of our communities. We are more likely to make decisions about things like health care and education, and when we make money, we invest it in our families. For most children, there is no better friend, no fiercer protector, no more beloved hero than their mother.”  It was a powerful conference and I learned a lot about what I can do to CARE and advocate for change.

Just because we are helping people, doesn’t mean we have to stop sparkling while we do it!! Or that you can’t take a selfie with your new friends!!

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