It was such an honor to attend the Girls Scouts of Citrus Council’s Women of Distinction Awards this past July 29.
Aretha and I pointing at our names on the list of nominees
The annual program celebrates outstanding contributions that women make to improve the quality of life in the community.
Within three minutes of arriving to the event, I reconnected with my pal, Andrea Wesser, a brilliant engineer and Women of Distinction alumna, and met a wonderful new friend, Aretha Olivarez. This amazing woman balances it all as a mom, Navy veteran, culinary artist and entrepreneur.
After 9/11, Aretha was recalled to service and served our country overseas for two years. While there, she became a sharp shooter and authored several books. Aretha and I were both nominated for the Visionary category of the awards, and sat next to each other throughout the entire event.
I told Aretha about my friend Roxanne Martinez, who beat breast cancer and job loss while pregnant. Supporters from all over the country joined together to raise more than $20,000 for Roxy’s cancer treatment fund – an effort that soon became known as Team Roxy. Now that Roxy is beginning the healing process, she is planning to write a book about her experiences. We spoke about possibly creating a non-profit to help women who are fighting breast cancer while pregnant.
Aretha listened intently to my story and told me about her company Multiplying Talents. Guess what she does? Aretha helps not-profits with everything from incorporation to legal help to marketing! In fact, her company’s name is inspired by the parable of the talents in the New Testament, which encourages us to be good stewards of our God-given gifts. I really believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason.
As if the night couldn’t get any better, we were treated to a powerful keynote from Marlo Thomas, award-winning actress and producer, and National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Marlo spoke about girl power. She told us that for women, there’s safety in numbers. “If you have only one woman at the table, she's a pest. Two women? That's a team. But three? Now that's a coalition,” she declared.
Later, Marlo related how Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor squashed speculation that women can’t get along when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the Supreme Court. "It's important to be the first, but it's even more important not to be the last," she said.
Marlo also spoke of treasured interactions with her father, comedian Danny Thomas. When critics kept comparing Marlo to her father early in career, he told her, “I raised you to be a thoroughbred. When thoroughbreds run they wear blinders to keep their eyes focused straight ahead with no distractions, no other horses. They hear the crowd but they don’t listen. They just run their own race. That’s what you have to do."
The following night, Marlo shared that her dad sent a white box to her dressing room before she prepared to take the stage. Inside was a pair of horse blinders with a note from her dad, reminding her to run her own race.
Finally, Marlo told us that her father mentioned two types of people in the world: those who stop for a traffic accident, and those who just drive by.
I want to be the type of person who stops by to help, don't you?