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Buckman Remarks |
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Celebrating Women's Voices
Our kickoff event in 2015, Celebrating Women's Voices, was a success, thanks to our
attendees and the generosity of those who donated raffle basket and silent auction items.
The Board thanks all our donors and volunteers who helped with this event.
To download all our pictures, click here.
Remarks from Judith Glick Buckman
To download Judy's remarks, click here.
For the ten people in the audience who haven't yet heard me say this, I'd like to quote the naturalist, Jane Goodall. She famously said, "When you see a turtle at the top of a telephone pole, you know he didn't get up there by himself". Well, I didn't get up here by myself, either.
Over the past 40 years, I've had the privilege and the pleasure of working alongside 100s, maybe 1000s of people who also rolled up their sleeves, and as Father Michael Doyle would say, "Did their bit". Father Doyle, one of my heroes, says that none of us need to try and solve all the world's problems. Each of us just needs to do "our bit".
I also wouldn't be standing here if more than 60 people (and that includes most of you, as designated on your name tags) hadn't done their bit by deciding to become founding contributors of this organization which will fund women's rights activities into the future. Thank you so much for stepping up to the plate when asked to do so. We all know that if you want to make a change, you have to invest in it. The people in this room have taken that to heart and, for that, I am truly grateful.
People often ask why I do women's rights work. I think it was because of my truly incredible mother. When I was about 10 years old, I remember seeing her standing at the kitchen sink cutting vegetables and I asked her a very existential question, even though I had no idea at the time what that meant.
I asked her "What's the point of living if you're just going to die anyway?" Without missing a beat, she said "To make the world a better place". Unfortunately, I had no idea what that meant, either!
But in 1971, I experienced pregnancy discrimination and needed to get a legal injunction so I could stay in the classroom until three weeks before my due date. When my son was about two years old, I went to a seminar presented by the Philadelphia YMCA and heard a NOW speaker talk about women's rights. Everything that had been wrong about my pregnancy discrimination experience came together in my head. That was the "click" that Gloria Steinem used to talk about. I joined NOW on the spot. Between that, and going through the amazingly powerful experience of consciousness raising (and I so wish that experience was still available to today's young feminists), I finally understood how I might be able to do my part to make the world a better place.
The truth is, I am not special. Everyone in this room could have done what I did. Maybe not as much or as long or in the same way, but working for women's rights can absolutely be fun and, for me, it has truly been a labor of love for me. As much as I have given to South Jersey NOW, I have gotten back so much more.
You might be surprised to learn that I was the most shy, awkward, timid and self-conscious child and teenager that you can imagine. Working to achieve whatever women's rights accomplishments I've been able to produce over the past 40 years (plus a few good therapists!) has turned that situation around for me 180 degrees.
Over the years, I learned that I had some degree of power (truly, what a shock!). I learned that my NOW volunteer work had parallels in the corporate world which led to me getting an MBA (something I would have never, ever thought possible in my youth). And I learned that "sisterhood is powerful" isn't just a phrase from the 80s. It's a fact.
When I was dealing with breast cancer about a year ago, my NOW sisters provided me with a breathtaking amount of support. And continuing to do my NOW volunteer work gave me a much-needed, and much-appreciated, distraction from the surgery, chemo and radiation. It constantly reminded me who I was besides a cancer patient. And for that, I was extremely grateful. Just so you know, in August I had a perfect mammogram so that part of my life is thankfully behind me. But it was a very, very good lesson in perspective and gratitude. I don't think I could have gotten through that experience, or gotten through it as well, without the sisterhood that surrounded and constantly nourished me.
People also want to know why I have continued to do women's rights work all these years. The simple answer is it's easier for me to keep doing it than it would be for me to stop doing it. I guess it's like a religious calling—it's just something that I have to do even though, as is the case with nuns, the work doesn't pay very well. But the benefits, as Father Doyle would say (google him, please!), the benefits are priceless.
You'd never know this to look at a photo of her or to hear her speak, but believe it or not, Gloria Steinem just turned 81 years old. She has a new book coming out which you might have read about in the New Yorker Magazine. In the article she said, "I have the greatest luxury of thinking I might make a difference. I say to myself, Can anyone else do what I do? If not, I should keep doing what I can uniquely do. For me, it's combination of responsibility and pleasure". And, for me, the key word there is pleasure.
Besides standing on Gloria Steinem's shoulders and Alice Paul's shoulders as well as the shoulders of all the other brave and strong women who came before me, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge a local woman on whose shoulders I stand. Lucile Pfleeger, one of the oldest members of South Jersey NOW, served as chapter president and founded our Clinic Escort team which has continued every Saturday for the past 25 years and so much more. Lucile has been a guiding light to me for more years than I can count. I have often said that Lucile is who I want to be when I grow up and that's still true.
As you will see on our list of donors in the Program Book, Lucile has been extremely generous in terms of the Fund for the Future. This Thursday, Lucile will turn 94. Though she has lived an unbelievably full, rich, accomplished and independent life, last week Lucile went into the assisted living facility at Parke Place, located a few blocks from her home. She would have loved to be here tonight to see all of you, but since she can't, I hope that you'll each beam the some positive thoughts her way. There are copies of her new address and phone number on the registration table that you can pick up on our way out in case any of you wants to drop her a note.
I know that I've gone on too long and that you all want to get home (I told you that no one would ever believe I was shy!!) so I'll close with this thought.
Anyone who has something in their life that they do without pay because it feeds their soul--and that thing can be training dogs or growing orchids or working for women's rights--anyone who would do the thing that they love until midnight and then have to force themselves to go to sleep so that they can get up at a reasonable hour the next day—that is a fortunate person. And I am here tonight to tell you that I am a VERY, VERY fortunate person.
Thank you all for being here tonight, thank you for your generous founding donations and thank you for your willingness to support this organization into the future. We literally could NOT have gotten this far without you.