Girls of summer · Pat Asch Fellowship · RVA

A Gracious Plenty

The last couple of weeks have been filled up with amazing women doing amazing work. This year, when the YWCA of Richmond selected me as their third Pat Asch Social Justice Fellow, (I freaked out and) I joined Cheryl Groce-Wright and Leslie Lytle in an emerging sisterhood of justice-seeking women living and working in Richmond.

This past week, Cheryl brought the three of us together for what I hope will be the first of many deep and rich discussions about women and their families in our community and how we may serve them. Cheryl used her Fellowship to study Asset-Based Community Development, which she is putting into practice at the Neighborhood Resource Center in RVA’s Fulton neighborhood. Leslie is working toward transforming how our city supports families of infants and young children. My fellowship year is devoted to examining the intersection of income inequality, gender disparity, and racial disparity among the long-term care workforce serving older adults.

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Leslie Lytle, Cheryl Groce-Wright, me at 23rd & Main

In our hour together, I learned so much from these two brilliant women and came away inspired and energized to get to work. (My fellowship year will kick-off in a couple of weeks when I travel to Massachusetts to participate in training on narrative medicine, moving beyond diversity 101, and the body, the brain, and trauma.)

Thanks to the Jackson Foundation and the YWCA for this leadership opportunity designed for women aged 50 and older! (If you are a 50+ woman living and work in Richmond with a heart and hands for social justice, please consider applying for the 2018 Pat Asch Fellowship. The application is due February 20, 2018.)

From the circle of fellowship, the sisterhood circle just kept on growing, right into Girls of Summer 2017, which fell on Summer Solstice this year.

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Meg Medina and me, feeling the love at RPL Main

Meg Medina and I started Girls of Summer back in 2011 when our daughters were graduating high school and turning 18. The event has grown to include a couple of hundred folks each year, and our team has grown, as well. This year was the best ever, in large part due to the time, talents, and exquisite taste in books of our sisters in this endeavor: Stacy Adams, Beth Morris, Amanda Nelson, and Maya Smart, who have joined us in producing a joyful celebration of strong girls through books, reading, and writing.

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Beth Morris, Meg, Ii’Jeana James, me, and Barbara Haas at RPL taping a conversation for Virginia Currents with Catherine Komp on Girls of Summer and Building community and literary citizenship.

Community partners Richmond Young Writers and James River Writers  also  enhanced Girls of Summer by involving RVA teens in reviewing the books and in helping to interview our guest author this year, a true national treasure:

the fabulous, kind, loving, and lovely Rita Williams-Garcia!

What an honor to welcome Rita and her husband Fred to RVA. I thought it couldn’t get any better, until at the end of the night we danced on the RPL Soul Train (!!):

And if all that isn’t a gracious plenty of blessing for one week, yesterday I got to replenish by picking blackberries and riding in the truck bed with the guy I love most:

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My favorite tree is that big oak at the back of the field!

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Riding through bumpy fields on a sunny day: pretty sweet living

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