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With the help and support of our members, Engage Her is doing amazing things around the country!

Visit our website http://www.engageher.org/ to find up-to-date information on our leadership conferences, read blogs from our diverse group of regular contributors on health, education, jobs and the environment and learn how to become a part of this fast growing community.

Stepping up our Game….

As President Barack Obama talked about people getting involved during his campaign and now that he’s in office, we need to take his words to heart. It’s one thing to say “Yes we can!” and it’s another thing to figure out “What’s next?”   I get invited to a lot of community organizing events that people are developing because we have this overwhelming desire to get involved and make things happen.

For women, I think it’s time that we “Step up our game” and truly take charge and figure out what we can do for our families, communities and the country as a whole. Even as our economy is tanking, people are being laid off by the thousands in all our communities, we can take the initiative and figure out how we can improve our own personal situation and the broader community around us.  If you’ve been laid off or your spouse, of course we have to scramble to pay our bills, take care of our families and continue to manage our lives as successfully as we can.  We may not have the same kind of disposable income to afford the things we could even two months ago. However, money is not the only capital we have going for us.  If we don’t have the money because we’re not being paid, we have something even more important…..time!  We now have more time to look around and see how we can improve our families, communities and friends lives by participating, helping out and volunteering with groups that help to improve people’s lives.

Instead of rushing off to work everyday, picking up your kids, putting dinner on the table, helping with homework, etc.  why not squeeze in an extra hour or two to volunteer with your local school and help kids to read.  How about helping out an elderly neighbor who can’t drive or asking someone within your family or community if you can help take care of their kids for an hour or two while they can take care of other things they never have time for?

We’ve created a whole culture based on paying for services, and oftentimes paying a lot for those amenities.  Why not move to a culture of sharing, volunteering and bartering for services?  At Engage Her, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re creating a lot of opportunities for women to join us by volunteering for activities and helping others out. We’re bartering for services instead of paying for them. For example, we have a wonderful woman who lost her job and wants to become a web/graphic designer. Her skill set was in the print media where she laid out content for a large newspaper. So she’s taking classes in Dreamweaver and web based software to learn new skills so she can compete with the younger web designers.  We had a need to create a new extension to our website, so I proposed if she could apply her new skills and help us develop our website, we would help expose her to some brand new technology that would teach her website skills, shortcut her learning path and give her a client that she could apply her skill to.  We also could lead her to other clients who are willing to do something similar and help her build a strong portfolio of clients.

Why not explore bartering for services with your friends, neighbors, associates, co-workers and families?  If you have experience, skills, and a desire to learn something new, try bartering with people and learning a new skill along the way. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or quilt but never took time to learn it. How about finding someone with the skills you want to learn and bartering for services you can provide in exchange for them teaching you things. You can be their apprentice and they can ask you to help with their marketing, or business plans, babysitting, who knows?  You could put an ad into Craig’s List and find a dream match for yourself.  You’ll find you’re connecting with people in a totally different fashion and when you take money out of the equation, you’ll be amazed how eager people are to learn something new and to give back to others. It works for us, try it yourself.  Mable

This morning as I was sitting in the auditorium at Jefferson Elementary School with hundreds of excited children, teachers, parents and friends, it was an amazing experience.   I watched my children sitting in the audience while the whole Inaugural process unfolded on a big screen. Listening to all the children’s excited chatter validated that it was the only place I wanted to be on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration as our 44th President.  Tears streamed down my face as I thought about how significant and amazing this victory was. Born and raised in Berkeley, CA I never thought I would see the day when an African American multicultural man would become the President of the United States. People think that Berkeley is this ultra liberal city and it certainly is today. It wasn’t like that when I grew up in the “flatlands”. Where immigrants and minorities were allowed to buy homes but “red lined” out of the prestigious properties in the Berkeley hills where only the non-minorities were allowed to live.

Yes, while I attended public schools I met and befriended children of all nationalities. However, I encountered a lot of racist comments.  Labels like  “Ching Chong Chinaman” and “slant eyes” were something that I was called. I’ll never forget the feelings of being labelled something demeaning or some one  to be ridiculed and made fun of because of the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes. I learned to rise  above those situations and to fight back. I vowed to educate people who made fun of us, not contribute to the dialogue of cultural racism.

When my twin boys were born 5-1/2 years ago, I had the stroke of luck to meet our nanny, Carolyn. She is an incredible woman who had been a nanny for decades and raised a number of children in several families.  She is loving, affectionate and an important member  of our family. My children only know and love her as their nanny. They don’t notice that she’s an African American because they only know her as Carolyn.  They aren’t “color blind”, they just don’t think about the color of people’s skins as something important.

These are all the thoughts and images that flash through my mind as I watched Barack Obama proudly state his inaugural oath.  What a glorious time to be alive and to see that we are all people…all united….and that deep down inside, it is about how we treat each other as human beings that truly counts.

It was wonderful watching the millions of people in Washington DC. But nothing could be more magical than to be with my children to share in their wonder and belief in seeing our new President Barack Obama being sworn in. They will grow up in a time when an African American will be their President, a woman will be their Secretary of State, the Cabinet members will be competent men & women who happen to come from all the different communities that make up our country.  This is a moment to savor forever.  Mable

2009 is a very exciting year for a lot of different reasons. An exciting new President, people coming together to work for a new America, voices of people engaged for the first time.  Something very cool coming from Obama’s election:  People wanting to volunteer and work together to “do something positive”.  It’s been amazing to hear of so many people who have been energized by the Obama campaign wanting to continue to contribute and volunteer to make a difference and have an impact.

While the reality is that we are faced with a serious recession that affects all of us: loss of jobs, loss of homes, budget cuts that slash services, teachers being laid off, cost of goods skyrocketing we historically have weathered the storm and emerged stronger and better.  Yes, it will be painful and it affects all of us deeply, but it also will teach us to “do more with less”.  It’ll teach us to work together, barter for services, buy what we need and not spend beyond our means.

Last year we created our documentary and discovered a movement. We never intended to create a movement or online organization…..we found women demanded it. So for the past few months we’ve been  planning what 2009 will entail for Engage Her and we are close to announcing some very exciting events, opportunities and partnerships that many of you have asked for.  Stay tuned…more to come.  Enjoy the inaugurals and then let’s get down to some serious work and develop our own solutions to the problems we all face.  Mable

Election Day applause!

As we all hear about the great stories of women voting at the recent elections, one in particular stood out in my mind that I’d like to share with you all.  This is the story of Tameeka Kelley and the applause she received the day she brought her daughter to the polls to vote!  Tameeka is one of our members and strongest supporters.  Read on….
“Election day, I awoke with such new ambitions, not for myself, but for my children. I’ve never understood clearly why voting was so important, until the word “Change” became the desperate need for our nation.
Being a mother of three children, and not being able to afford a loaf of bread simplifies the need for change. Overall, this economy is deeply consumed by debt that my family and I had nothing to do with creating, but it is unfair that we the tax payers have to bail out the irresponsible. I seriously have to question, are we living in a country of democracy or enslavement?
I’m a very concerned parent and feel that it is very pertinent that we communicate with our children and expose them to what is necessary, especially  at time when it seems as if we are living in an abject society. As parents, mentors, and leaders,  we influence our children to make intelligent decisions by giving them options that can be determined often times by balance of good or bad. Well, the day of the election I gave my daughter no options but exposed her to the privilege  and power of voting. I had to drive 45minutes to from Hercules to Hayward  to get  the polls. I expressed to Thalia that voting was the only way we, as her parents can contribute to help change our nation. I also explained to her that we were not just voting for Barack Obama because he was an African American, but because he understood most of the problems that mommy and daddy were facing. Also, I told her that Obama has a plan, and is aware of what it is going to take to give her and her siblings a better opportunity in life.
We arrived at the polls, and as we walked through the door to vote, I explained to Thalia everything that I was doing at that moment and why. One of the most touching moments as I was signing my name on the confirmation list, is when  I glanced at the sheet and saw my parents signature. This was actually the first time they voted, which gave me even more of an adrenaline rush. I showed Thalia and she gave me this smile of honor and innocence that only a child can give, that she was proud and confident.
My daughter and I went through the ballot and the first thing we did was vote for our President.  She quickly spotted Obama and Biden’s names, and drew the line to accomplish our mission. I also explained to her all of the propositions as basically as possible.
As we completed the ballot and proceeded to place it in the machine, I couldn’t help but notice people staring.  As Thalia cast our vote into the machine, people began to clap and cheer. That was a special moment for my daughter and I, because from this historical experience she will remember and become a generational voter, when she is eligible to vote. I wonder, how many people will she encourage and impact to exercise their right to be heard. I’m already a proud parent, and now even more so, a proud American!! My vote helped to determine our 44th President-Elect,  Barack Obama.
________
The footnote to this story is that Tameeka has been deeply involved with Engage Her and has motivated and inspired her parents to vote for the first time. So she has exercised the greatest power and influence of all. She encouraged her parents to vote who have never participated before. She also gave her daughter Thalia the experience of a lifetime to be celebrated when she voted at the polls.  Tameeka contributed mightily to helping us rebuild and encourage our families and communities to participate.  Congratulations and kudos to Tameeka for all her hard work and efforts.   Mable

Yesterday was a historic day for millions of people all over the world. Not only Americans, but people who are globally affected by the United States.  I’m sure everyone was experiencing a wild range of emotions over Barack Obama’s win to become the next President of the United States.

For my family, watching Barack Obama deliver his speech I sat on the sofa with my two sons, Scottie & Kyle cuddled together and my husband Craig listening intently. It’s hard to describe our feelings but I thought about the future of my children and what the world will look like moving forward. It was fascinating seeing the crowds in Chicago waiting for Obama and for the crowds in Arizona listening to John McCain’s speech.

No matter who you voted for or wanted to win the White House, today is the first day of a new beginning. A new era when people of multi-cultural families and communities will play a critical role in the development of this country. The ability of all our citizens and guests to come together, leverage our contributions, listen and respect each other and move forward will be the foundation for our country’s ability to continually innovate, lead and promote equality for all. I think everyone will remember where they were when they first heard that Barack Obama won the vote to become our President of the United States.

Congratulations to everyone who voted, participated and now our collective work really begins. It is the dawn of a new beginning and we want to thank everyone who helped out to make this a collective victory.

Our Engage Her team is excited and looking forward to working with everyone to make sure we participate and get our voices and actions heard.  Mable

As we’re fast approaching the elections, there may still be a lot of people out there who are unsure, undecided or haven’t made up their minds whether or not to vote.  Maybe you’re voting but you want to know what else you can do to get more people to vote. Or maybe you’re thinking of voting, but you’re confused or unsure of the voting ballot. A couple of ideas:

1. Vote for your choice for our next President.  If you’re unsure of all the issues on your voting ballot, don’t be discouraged. Just vote for the things you know about and skip the rest. People don’t seem to know that you don’t have to know everything about all the issues. Just vote about what you care about.

2. If you’re at the polls and you’re running into problems or hassles with your name on the polls, ask someone for help. Ensure that you get the right to vote. There are more people going to the polls and monitoring to make sure everyone who is registered has the right to vote. So don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, ask for help and demand that you get to cast your ballot.

3. If you’ve already made up your mind to vote….great!  Why don’t you call your family and friends and make sure that they are voting and if they need any answers, or help getting to the polls, offer to help them out. A trusted family member, friend, member of the community offers a lot of encouragement and trust to women voters.

4. How about taking your kids to polls with you on election day? The White House Project is encouraging people to Take Their Daughters/Kids  to the Polls and I’m going to do that myself. I’m taking my twin boys who are 5 years old to come with me to my voting location since they’ve been hearing me talk about this election for the past year now. They will remember and they will get to see their Mom participate in the electoral process. It’s establishing a new tradition for our family. Something my parents never did, since they never voted and I missed out on all that education and awareness.

5.  Why don’t you call up a friend or a group of friends and watch the election coverage and results together? This is a historic election and there will be a lot of exciting coverage and commentary to hear about. It will give you an opportunity to share the enthusiasm and excitement with others and feel connected.

6. If you’re thinking of sitting out the elections because you don’t like the candidates, etc. think about your parents, grandparents or other family members who sacrificed a lot to bring your family to the U.S. to enjoy the freedom of speech and the right to vote for elected officials. In many countries, people still don’t have the right to vote and participate in democracy.  So let’s use our vote and the privilege wisely.

7. How about thinking of the kids and people who can’t vote? Your vote for candidates who represent issues that affect all Americans is a critical one. How about voting for the people who can’t vote or who don’t currently have the right?

This is an exciting time and November 4, 2008 is right around the corner.  Mable

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