... Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.
-- Albert Schweitzer
I believe that everyone has the right to live in dignity with equal access to
resources and opportunities, free from discrimination, hatred, or abuse. We each
have the right to be heard, and the responsibility to listen. Further, I feel
that it is vitally important that we, to the best of our abilities, act as
advocate on behalf of those individuals or groups experiencing infringements
upon these basic human rights.
My dedication to social action and the decision to pursue social work as a
vocation was inspired by two women,
Shirley Kilgore Weber and
I first met Shirley when I was quite young, as she would spend the summers with her sister who lived nearby. Shirley was born and raised in rural eastern Kentucky in the 1920's, leaving home to pursue a college degree and later a doctorate in social work at a time when it was much less common for women to seek advanced degrees. My admiration of her strength, compassion, and lifelong dedication to academic pursuits at Rutgers University has made her a strong influence in my life. I will never forget the many lessons she taught me, nor will I forget her feisty spirit - ever vigilant to hear and act upon the needs of her community. "No one is ever lost to us as long as we are willing to look for the notes they have left for us in the margins of our lives." -- Ben Kamin. (Shirley Weber, 1921-Nov. 11, 2006)
I became acquainted with the work of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), advocate of the poor and homeless and founder of the Catholic Worker movement, four years ago. Upon further investigation into her life, I discovered the beautiful writings she left behind, chronicling her life of social service. Dorothy, a single mother, chose to live in voluntary poverty, turning old buildings into shelters she called "Houses of Hospitality." Not only was Dorothy an advocate for the poor, but she was also active during the Civil Rights movement, barely dodging a sniper's bullet as one of her shelters came under attack by the Ku Klux Klan.
Knowing of the deeds and accomplishments of these two women affirms my belief that one person's actions can, and indeed do, make a difference.
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