Monday, October 15, 2012

Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can -- Arthur Ashe

Please join us on Saturday, October 27 at the Boston Book Festival.  Click here for details.

The girls and I spent twenty minutes in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco last week.  I didn't bring them into the area on purpose; the blocks changed quickly and by the time I realized where we were heading, we were already there.  We did an about-face soon enough, but as we walked six short blocks up and down Jones Street, we saw at least a dozen people sleeping on the sidewalks, three men openly smoking something that was definitely not tobacco, and one inebriated woman shout-singing, "Henry the Eighth I Am."  The girls took it all in and, as we walked, they asked me a lot of questions.  Why were those people sleeping on the sidewalks?  Couldn't the rich people of the world give them money?  What were those fellows smoking?  Why is it illegal?  If it's illegal, then why were they smoking it and why weren't they afraid of being caught by the police?  Why isn't alcohol illegal, if alcohol makes you sing loudly down the middle of the sidewalk? 

I tried to answer their questions as best I could.  There are programs out there for homeless people but not everybody can take advantage of them for certain reasons, I'm not exactly sure why some things are legal while other things aren't, and I don't know why the men didn't seem afraid of getting caught.  The girls' questions continued -- their biggest concern was why, in this land of relative plenty, the government can't offer help to every person in the country.

I'm not a politician so I won't play one on this blog.  Suffice to say my responses fell short of my daughters' expectations.  They wanted concrete answers regarding how to help and house all the homeless people we saw and all I could give them was a bunch of I-don't-knows.

We left the area with a new resolve to do our part in this world.

For at least a year, the girls and I have been talking about hiking for a charitable organization.  Specifically, we've wanted to do our part, however small, to help empower girls and women around the globe.  Alex and Sage are quite aware that, in far too many countries, women are considered property and do not have access to education, adequate health care, or equal rights.  My daughters are also aware that right here in the United States, in the year 2012, women do not receive equal pay in the workforce, maternity/paternity leave is practically nonexistent, and the vast majority of our elected officials are men.

After we walked through the Tenderloin, I asked the girls if they wanted to change the target of our future fundraising efforts.  Their answer was no...and yes.

No, for now, they want to stay focused on female empowerment.  Therefore, we will dedicate our March/April 2013 hike of the Camino de Santiago to the nonprofit organizations Global Fund for Women and GirlVentures.  Global Fund for Women offers grants to female-led organizations and promotes equal rights for women around the globe.  GirlVentures is the San Francisco-based nonprofit that leads adolescent girls through outdoor wilderness adventures.  I will write much more about the Camino, Global Fund for Women, GirlVentures, and our fundraising efforts in the weeks and months to come.  A new webpage devoted to this 500 mile journey will soon be constructed and linked to this site.

Yes, the girls definitely care about the homeless and would also like to raise money for them.  Therefore, if the Camino goes well and if the girls remain enthusiastic about hiking for charity, then we may do another fundraising hike in 2014.  That walk will likely focus on helping the homeless. 

The girls are young and I don't see their love of hiking fading away any time soon.  May as well raise money for others while we're walking.

Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.


Sharon said...

Trish, I am so thankful to have found you and had the opportunity to read "Up" while actually traveling and hiking in New England. And now through the wonderful medium of blogging, be able to stay in touch with what you and the girls are doing even though we live in totally different parts of the US. I loved your highpointing adventure this year and can't wait for future hike reports and updates on what you guys are up to. These thoughts in today's posts are terrific and remind me how thankful I am that there are still parents who use real life and teachable moments to instill in their children that we have a responsibility for teaching and helping others who (for whatever reason) aren't living the same type of life we take for granted and with which we are so comfortable. Thank You and please, keep writing!

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for your comment -- I'm glad you enjoyed UP, and I'm glad you find this blog and our adventures worthwhile.

When I first started blogging, my intention was to keep my relatives informed of our adventures. My audience soon grew beyond my initial target range of family and friends, and during the last couple of years I've routinely received messages from women and girls around the globe. It seems there aren't many examples of mother-daughter hikers/outdoor enthusiasts out there, and my blog appeals to folks who would like to see more real-life examples of girl adventurers.

There are (many!) days when my free moments consist of the hours after my children have gone to bed. It's tempting to trade the blogging for a glass of wine and a DVD...and sometimes I do just that, for everyone needs to recharge their batteries. Then I get a message such as yours, either on this blog, or Facebook, or, as is usually the case, via email. Such messages remind me of why I make our adventures public.

Thank you for taking the time to write. We appreciate your kind words more than I can properly express.

Happy hiking,