Two of My Heroes from Kalamazoo College

This last week I was reminded just how much I learned at K-College, and that some of my most important lessons came outside the classroom from interactions with the great people K attracted as students. Two of those people most important to me and my growth were my teammates on the Cross-Country Team, Rebecca Joyce and Sheri Michael.

My friend Sheri Michael has started a not-for-profit in Colorado called Closing the Gap Boulder County (CTGBC).  CTGBC provides resources to help individuals and families in Boulder County achieve personal goals leading to self-sufficiency. Sheri’s organization works with middle-income families that do not receive public assistance but have more month than money. Due to some unforeseen circumstance (long-term illness, loss of a partner, loss of job due to recession) these families are no longer able to pay their monthly bills.

Sheri is looking to raise $9000 to help fund several of the CTGBC initiatives. You can donate here

I really hope you’ll consider donating something. I know she would be grateful for any amount $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. Please trust me when I say, she knows how to get the most out of a dollar.

My other friend, Rebecca Joyce, was a key organizer for the Valentine’s Day One Billion Rising event in Kalamazoo. It was part of the global One Billion Rising movement that is trying to end violence against women and girls. You can listen to Rebecca’s radio interview here

Rebecca and Sheri were the first two feminists I ever spent time with. I don’t ever remember either of them using the word, but everything the word connotes to me is derived from who these two are – strong, compassionate, empowered, funny, fierce, beautiful, unwilling to cede ground based on gender, and fighting for the common good of all, not just women.

Before meeting them, I think it’s safe to say I was a good guy – or at least an average guy. I treated women with respect. Yet, it was Sheri and Rebecca’s influence in my life that really made me try and understand things from a woman’s perspective (why certain jokes are never funny, why crossing the street at night to give a woman the sidewalk to herself is a kind thing to do, how privileged my white-man-middle-class upbringing was).

They never tried to make me feel guilty or ashamed of being a man, or for having privileges. Instead, they expanded the landscape of my experience to see the part I could play in my daily life to make things just a little easier for the women in my life, and to be a vanguard for equality. Because of them I am a better husband, father to my daughter, son, and man.

What jogged my memory this week was the news each posted on Facebook about their current activities. These are two of my heroes who continue to change the world. I am so proud to know them and to have their influence in my life. If you’re able to help them in any way with their causes – it will be time and/or resources well spent.

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