Presented by SIA Board Member 2018-2020, Pat McCay
Please follow this script as you go through the presentation.
Slide 1: No Cape Required: Our Soroptimist Heroes
Slide 2: Heroes
Good afternoon. I’m delighted to be here with you.
Today we’re going to talk about heroes. Whether Queen Esther from the Old Testament, or the goddess Athena from Greek Mythology, heroes have been created and revered throughout the history of humankind.
Slide 3: Superheroes of Today
Today’s literature and movies feature superheroes like Katana, Wonder Woman, and Zatana. Superheroes have superhuman powers. Katana’s superpower is her prowess in hand-to-hand combat. Wonder Woman’s is strength and the ability to fly. And Zatana uses magic to control the elements and defeat her enemies.
Slide 4: Christopher Reeve Said …
It’s not hard to understand our attraction to these heroes. After all, heroes fight the bad guys and make the world better and safer for all of us.
Christopher Reeve, the American actor who once played Superman, said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
Slide 5: Regular People Doing Extraordinary Things
I believe that’s true. I think most heroes are walking among us largely unnoticed. They are regular people who do extraordinary things and probably don’t see themselves as heroes.
They may not wear capes, but they do have superhuman powers.
Think, for a moment, about the heroes in your life. For me, it was my Dad.
Slide 6: My Personal Hero
I had a great childhood with loving parents. But my Dad in particular was my guiding force. He had great compassion for people around us who were less fortunate. He taught me never to judge and to realize how easy it was for someone to become a victim of circumstances. He was a lifelong volunteer who never turned down a request for help. He instilled that value in me. My Dad was the kindest person I’ve ever known, and that’s why he is my personal hero.
Slide 7: Following in My Hero’s Footsteps
I have tried to follow in my Dad’s footsteps through my Soroptimist membership and leadership positions. I have deep affection for the women I’ve met through our Live Your Dream Awards. and to me these women are heroes. Every single one of them. And today, I’m going to tell you about a few of these incredible women.
Slide 8: Natalia, Mexico/USA
This is Natalia.
Natalia’s mom was addicted to drugs. Her entire focus was to feed her addiction. She moved Natalia and her brother from the U.S. to Mexico so she could more easily access drugs.
At age 11, Natalia was kidnapped by the drug cartel and sent to live with a family that brutalized her. Natalia’s mother never even filed a police report, tried to find her, or notified Natalia’s father.
After suffering years of sexual abuse, beatings, and slave-like conditions, Natalia managed to escape her kidnappers.
Slide 9: Natalia, Mexico/USA
Unfortunately, her nightmare didn’t end there. Now with a son, Natalia was forced into prostitution by the local cartel. Every day, she thought about her son and the kind of life she wanted for him. “He’s going to grow up to be one of them,” thought Natalia. She knew she had to do something.
With help from Mexico’s child protective services, Natalia and her son were returned to the United States where they were reunited with loving family members.
I can’t begin to imagine how Natalia found the strength to move forward, but she did. She had little education. Step one, she needed to earn a high school diploma, which she worked hard to do. “I had to get it together and be strong for my son,” she said. With the support of school counselors, family, Soroptimists and our Live Your Dream Awards, Natalia has since earned three associates degrees and is enrolled in a four year university to earn a bachelor’s degree in business.
“I learned I could be somebody else, somebody important,” she said.
Natalia is a hero. Her superpower is Courage.
Slide 10: Rhea, Philippines
This is Rhea. She grew up, the eldest of 13 children, in the Philippines. While her parents worked for meager wages, Rhea was charged—at age 9—with caring for her siblings. That’s a lot of pressure for a 9-year-old. The family’s situation was so unstable that if either of her parents missed even a single day of work, there would be no food for the family.
Rhea loved to learn and did what she could to keep up. She put her long-term dreams on hold and focused on making sure her siblings got an education. Eventually Rhea began working as a tutor and became the primary provider for her family.
This next part is unbelievable to me. With all that responsibility, Rhea started a program for street children in her community to keep them safe and get them educated. She doesn’t want other kids to struggle the way her family has.
Slide 11: Rhea, Philippines
Rhea knew that finishing her own education was the key to solving her family’s financial problems. She said, “I dream of not having to worry about where we will get our next meal or pay our rent. Finishing my education will help myself and my family.”
Rhea is using her Live Your Dream Awards to earn a degree in psychology. She plans to one day open a school and shelter for street children. “I am climbing slowly but surely with much patience and hope,” she said. “Quitting was never part of my plan.”
Rhea is a hero. Her superpower is Selflessness.
Slide 12: Paula, Brazil
This is Paula.
She was born in Brazil into a very poor and violent household. After her father nearly beat her mother to death one night, Paula, her mom and two brothers finally fled. They ran from place to place for safety. Like Rhea, by age 10, Paula was cooking, cleaning and caring for her siblings while her mother worked.
Paula had a voracious drive to learn, teaching herself to read at the age of 4. Although she was forced to drop out of school at 14 to work, she never lost her love of learning. Paula was a frequent visitor to the library, and fought for improvements in Brazilian schools.
After having her first child at 20, Paula was determined to make a better life for her and her son. “When I realized that I had become responsible for someone, I decided to go back to school.” she said.
Slide 13: Paula, Brazil
Paula desperately wanted to become a doctor. It has never been easy. But Paula got there. And now the Live Your Dream Awards are helping her finish her internship … only focusing on her studies without worrying about her financial obligations.
Paula’s dream is to be a doctor who helps other women understand the great value of their bodies and health. I, for one, have no doubt she will accomplish this goal.
Paula is a hero. Her superpower is Persistence.
Slide 14: 1,655 Heroes
Natalia, Rhea and Paula join 1,655 other heroes who received Live Your Dream Awards last year. I don’t know about you, but my heart bursts with love and pride for every single one of them.
Slide 15: Heroes in Training
As you know, our newest program is Dream It Be It—Career Support for Girls. Can you believe more than 55,000 girls have gone through our program so far? These girls face daunting obstacles from unstable home lives to poverty and teenage pregnancy. Yet they have dreams and you can just see the potential in their fierce, young eyes. I think of them as heroes in training, who with our help will grow into resilient women of substance. I can’t wait to see the powerful young women they will become.
Our Dream It, Be It girls are heroes in training. Their superpower is Determination.
Slide 16: Proud of Our Work
I’m so proud of our work. We surround these women and girls with respect and compassion. We help them up when they’re down. We lift them higher when they’re up. We’ve been there for them, year in and year out for almost 100 years.
Slide 17: Sometimes it Takes a Hero To Make Another
Now, the writer Joseph Campbell once said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
Look around the room. According to Mr. Campbell’s definition, everyone here … everyone in this room … is a hero. Sometimes it takes a hero to make another hero.
Slide 18: WE Are Heroes Too!
So, yes, we are heroes too. And our superpower is Dedication. Almost 100 years of it.
Slide 19: Increased Collective Impact
Collectively, we have done so much. How much? Let me tell you. Since we adopted our goal of increased collective impact seven years ago, we have given out almost 10 thousand Live Your Dream Awards, representing more than $14 million in funding. And 55 thousand girls have gone through our Dream It, Be It program.
Slide 20: All Because of YOU!
Let me say that again. 10 THOUSAND women. 14 MILLION DOLLARS. 55 THOUSAND girls.
And it’s all because of you … our volunteer heroes.
That’s a lot of collective impact! But collectively, we can do so much more.
Slide 21: As We Approach Our 100th Year
We need to ask ourselves as we approach our 100th year, what are we willing to do to keep our hero work going?
Slide 22: Are We Going to …
Are we going to embrace our next big goal of reaching 500 thousand women and girls through access to education?
Are we going to strengthen and grow our clubs?
Are we going to make sure every member has an awesome Soroptimist experience?
Slide 23: Are We Going to …
Are we going to accept change even though it might be hard or outside of our comfort zones?
Are we going to open our wallets to the women and girls … our heroes … who depend on us?
Slide 24: “A True Hero …
Zeus, the king of gods in Greek mythology said to the strongman, Hercules: “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength but by the size of his heart.”
Slide 25: THANK YOU!
Thank you for your huge hearts. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for being and investing in heroes!