Director’s Corner follows Oikocredit USA National Director Sharlene Brown as she reflects on her work and her travels to investors and supportive communities in the US.
Like many people, I begin each year with much reflection and contemplation. Personally, I’ve been looking for inspiration, thinking about the conditions in the world and my contribution to the solutions. How can I be a citizen of the world and a contributor to my society at home and abroad? What is my responsibility to the larger society, especially towards the children of the world? I’m slowly reading It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us and compelling arguments are made as to why I should invest my spiritual, mental, and financial resources for children who are not my own (my godsons and the recent additions to my extended family are the children I generally claim). I’ve long known that children need to be inspired and that every child needs a champion. I look back on my own life and recognize just how blessed I was to have waves of inspiration – family members, teachers, and counselors. I was told that I could be and do anything and my childish eyes, ears, and heart believed all was possible. I carried that optimism with me throughout the years.
Last night, I attended Tavis Smiley’s Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity. The stage was filled with heavy hitters in American society – among them Michael Moore, Suze Orman, and Cornel West. The discussion was as much about different approaches to poverty alleviation (from government policies to individual decisions) as it was about the characteristics of poverty (lack of money and educational opportunities, and food insecurity).
A theme that ran through the conversation was the power of solidarity, that is, the power of strength in numbers which translates into a movement. That theme brought my thoughts back to Oikocredit and our Join the Movement campaign. We count over 43,000 investors globally who have chosen to contribute some of their individual and institutional energies – through their investment portfolios and volunteering their time – to a vision of empowerment, and achieving social and economic justice. We (Oikocredit investors, volunteers, and staff) recognize that we can be creators of or contributors to hope…and we actively make the decision to contribute our voices through our diverse resources. I am proud to stand with like-minded people who recognize that we can each be a catalyst for all that is possible, fair, and just in the world.
My childhood was one of inspiration – and I continue to be inspired by those with whom I work and those who are the beneficiaries of our efforts. I love the fact that hope was embedded so deeply in my DNA and that a strong desire to achieve success was balanced by a commitment to serving those less fortunate, those with fewer opportunities. Today, as the national director of Oikocredit USA, I’m channeling all that I’ve been blessed with – education, training, rich work experiences – to help to create a little bit of hope for every person, every community, our investments reach.
I look forward to a productive and successful 2012 with our investors, colleagues and volunteers, here in the US and around the world!
Hope defined (Merriam Webster)
: to desire with expectation of obtainment
: to expect with confidence : trust