25 Mar International Women’s Day
On March 17, 2016, the Center for Sharing featured its annual international women’s day event! During this event, The Center for Sharing celebrated international women’s day by inviting local vendors and individuals from all around the area to come and participate in our program.
During the program, the director of Vista Hermosa Foundation, Suzanne Broetje, briefly spoke on the topic of servant leadership as she welcomed all the guests to the event. Our main speaker, however, was Linda Smith from Hope international.
Linda has served as a Washington State legislator (1983-1993), before she was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1994. During the Center for Sharing’s international women’s day event, she spoke specifically about human trafficking in the world and the direct impact of servant leadership in this area. In 1998, while serving in the U.S. Congress, Linda traveled to a notorious brothel district in India where the hopeless faces of women and children forced into prostitution compelled her to found Shared Hope International. Linda is the primary author of from Congress to the Brothel and Renting Lacy and co-author of the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and the Demand Report. Linda has testified before Congress, presented at national and international forums, and has been published in news outlets and journals.
Our Second speaker was our very own Director Cheryl Broetje. Cheryl Broetje and her husband Ralph, founded, own and operate Broetje Orchards – a vertically integrated apple growing, packing, shipping, sales company located in the southeastern part of Washington State. Its five million trees produce fruit that is exported around the world. Its mission is to be “…a quality fruit company bearing fruit, fruit that will last.” Cheryl also founded our organization, The Center for Sharing, a non-profit, faith-based servant leadership development organization whose mission is “… calling forth the gifts of all persons through Christ-centered community.” Her passion is in bringing people and resources together to build kingdom structures. During the event Cheryl spoke on the impact of international women lifting their communities around them.
In the weeks coming up to the event, participants and partners were encouraged to nominate a woman who best exemplified these traits. Out of these nominations, the Center for Sharing Selected two women.
The following text comes directly from the nominations themselves!
The first woman selected was Socorro Garcia. Socorro arrived in the Vista Hermosa Community in Prescott, WA in 1995; community rooted in Servant Leadership. She benefited from the service of others and found the confidence to support her desire to grow: she learned English, obtained a GED, a CDA, and most recently earned a Washington State Certification as a Community Health Worker. Having others pour into her spirit she has taken upon herself the same spirit of servant leadership in serving her community. As the Community Promotora, she serves in a marginalized community where the vulnerable population may not have had much exposure to the health care system or accessing programs. However, sometimes the people she serves choose to not access resources out of fear. Knowing and understanding both decisions she has been able to walk alongside individuals to support them through education, connecting them to resources, sometimes even making appointments to alleviate the fear. Socorro recognizes that this fear can even grow larger when you are working with sensitive issues around health. Her listening skills and her empathy to meet people where they are, can make all the difference in the outcome.
One example of her servant heart in her work is around Breast Cancer Awareness. Studies suggest 62% of Hispanic women don’t get screened for breast cancer and of the women who do have a positive result tend to be diagnosed with more advance cases. Insurance, cultural difference and fear of diagnosis are identified as barriers to screening. Socorro, works to remove those barriers to support women in her community. Socorro has built relationships with health care providers to support her community through free mammograms, vital follow up care, and insurance access. She has worked with women on awareness education, scheduling appointments, listening to alleviate fears, and support through a diagnosis if there is one. Socorro has built a team of volunteers who have encouraged other people to seek screening and have learned that they too can play an important role in advocating for women’s health.
Socorro is an example of a Servant Leader in her community and as a result community members are growing and thriving.
The Second Recipient of the award was Theresa Roosendaal. for this award. She had been working at the Family Learning Center; a ministry that exists to help refugees in the Tri-Cities thrive in their new homeland, for several years. Serving as a volunteer Executive Director, she demonstrates remarkable commitment and passion, but it is her genuine love of being in authentic relationship with the people she serves that is unique.
She is so much more than someone who facilitates learning opportunities for very vulnerable people; she is their friend, listening, encouraging and being present to them in situations that many would run from. Recently, Theresa shared that she realized some of the refugee young women were missing school a week out of every month. Although it was awkward, Theresa, due to her relationship with the girls and their parents, was able not only to provide education around available feminine hygiene products, but accompany them in the much more challenging journey of changing accepted cultural norms and values. Though they face struggles that few of us can imagine, through Theresa’s leadership, they are better able to meet them together. Theresa’s support not only enabled a young woman to get a scholarship to attend college, but she’s providing the ongoing mentorship she needs to succeed. She had put in the time and energy to invest in her as a whole person and accompanied and encouraged her despite setbacks and unforeseen challenges.
As we look forward to the strides that communities are taking towards empowering each other, we are very grateful and excited to see the fruit come in response to Robert Greenleaf’s thesis:
people are growing as a person; they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants. And, have an impactful effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived.