God Bless America!

Last week, Roscio received her permanent resident card.  Roscio has worked for us for over eight years.  She is a sewer, as in sewing fabric (in our case, aprons, table covers, totes, etc.).  When she lived in Colombia she owned her own sewing house.  Coming to the states meant a step backward for her authority, but a step forward for her family.  She is no longer surrounded by drug cartels, violence, and oppressed citizens.

I initiated her employment with us.  When she came to our lobby, I was fascinated by the sparkle in her eyes and her head full of gorgeous white hair.  Her granddaughter accompanied her; Roscio didn’t speak English.  I pushed her interview.  I pushed her hiring.  Because no one could speak to her (No hablamos español), our sewing supervisor simply asked her to sit and sew.  She did so impeccably.

As the years have gone by, she has picked up English – probably more than we suspect.  I caution her coworkers to take care with what they say.  She may understand more than she indicates.  Everyone likes Roscio.  Some love her.  She is so grateful and gracious to have her job.  I make a point to say, “Como esta?” when I walk through our production area.  I also instruct others (as best I can with 4 semesters of Spanish under my belt) in words they can say to her.  As is often the case, the blue-collar Americans don’t make much effort.  After 8 years, many of them could be speaking better Spanish.

Last week, upon hearing of her new resident status, I ordered a cake.  Heart shaped, chocolate, with raspberry ganache.  And five American flags on tooth picks.  I didn’t have much advance notice.  On the top of the delectable desert written in red: “Felicitaciones, Roscio!”  At the 3:00 break, every office worker marched into the production area.  Roscio was not paying attention – the day happened to coincide with the boss’s birthday.  She thought we were gathering to sing happy birthday.  Instead, we broke into the chorus of  “God Bless America.”  I walked to her with the cake, and the tears began to roll.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  We should have recorded it, put it on YouTube.  It was an intensely emotional moment.  For the final line, we changed the words a little.  For Roscio, it became “Your home sweet home.”

The dream may have changed.  But, for many, the dream still lives here.


The dangers of indifference

As a Holocaust scholar, I am deeply disturbed by indifference.  I have a lecture that is based solely on the dangers inherent in not caring or choosing not to see what happens to people who become invisible to dominant groups.  It can happen slowly and insidiously in which we turn our backs and close our eyes to people in our own community who need help. Our community can be the whole world.  Or our nextdoor neighbor.  

It is the test of the character of any society as to how they treat the downtrodden and the “others” among us.  The fact that we even have an us/them mentality creates the possibility as well as the likelihood that “they” will be treated at best unfairly, and at worst…well, I think we know what worst can lead to.  I am consciously attempting to focus regularly on areas in which I can lend a voice, a hand, a dollar to assist those people who need a voice in their own support.

Many historians believe that there are no lessons in the Holocaust.  That to know a man can throw a baby in the air and use her for target practice, or bury a young mother alive, or starve an elderly couple offers us no redeeming lessons in life.  I believe that the lesson must be that we cannot allow indifference.  We have voices, and we live in the United States.  We can offer that voice to our political representatives, our clergy, our family, or our friends in support of anyone who is discriminated against because of race, creed, color, religion, cultural background, nationality – anyone.  I will continue for the rest of my life challenging myself not to be quiet in the throes of hatred and indifference.  I hope that you will join me.

Lecture over.

Changing face of Retirement

I really like this article about the re-making of retirement by boomers.   Currently, I have no active plans to retire, but if I do, the ability to make it what I want it to be is extremely satisfying.  The focus on helping others is uniquely there, along with some ability to earn.  I am a fierce entrepreneur capitalist, even if there are times I wish to be a socialist.  The earning capacity always interests me, but the helping does even more.  I wonder if any of our readers has “remade” her retirement.  If so, please let us know how you have done it.


Good Works and the YWCA

What a great idea!  I wonder if many YWCA’s have this kind of sale – gently used suits and dresses.  I think many women in the business world would benefit from this, but especially those who really need a helping hand.  Why not call your Y and find out if they offer this service, and if not, how you can help get it going.  Challenge yourself to find a way to give back to women who can use your help.