Why I choose to Advocate2Vaccinate

March 27, 2014

Fourteen months ago I knew very little about how to contact our Senators and Representatives, much less about lobbying in Washington D.C. Last January, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs selected me to represent them in their partnership with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign to advocate for global vaccine access. I was sent to Washington, D.C., to learn about public speaking, advocacy, and fundraising, but I discovered much more about myself as a citizen and as a person. 

Image credit: Shot@Life

In 1933, a young woman named Rose Garland Cole graduated from Union College. She moved to a holler’ in Stinking Creek to teach, first in a one room school, and eventually at Dewitt Elementary. Rose was small in stature, but what she lacked in size she made up for in heart and passion. She taught hundreds of students in her education career which spanned nearly five decades. Rose taught at several one room schools in the Dewitt area, Dewitt Elementary, and Dewitt Baptist Church Sunday School, often with a Bible on her desk and a paddle at her side. She loved God, her family, her students, and this community. 

Rose Garland Cole 

Rose was no stranger to generosity, and her own family undoubtedly influenced her kindness. Her brothers Beckham, Charles, and James Garland had each contributed to her education; they helped to pay the tuition for Rose and their sister Etta to attend Union College. All five siblings would eventually graduate and teach in Knox County during their careers. 

It was Rose Garland Cole who motivated me to return to Washington, D.C. with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign in recent weeks. Her devotion to community influenced me profoundly. She had always told me to stand up for others—a lesson that I had almost forgotten. She wanted to positively influence her students and family. 

Poverty has a powerful influence on society. It prevents access to basic needs including food, clean water, access to healthcare, and education with no respect for geographic boundaries. I stumbled in on Cameron Mills speaking at Knox Central High School on Tuesday, and he mentioned the difference between the poverty we see in our community and extreme poverty abroad. He reminded students that many families living in extreme poverty don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and there are no organizations there to help. 

People here struggle with paying for doctor visits, medical procedures, and medication, but children in developing nations don’t even have these options. Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease? Polio, measles, pneumococcal disease, and rotavirus routinely take the lives of children around the world. Did you know that $20 can vaccinate a child against these diseases for an entire lifetime? Every child deserves the right to a healthy life, and parents shouldn’t live in fear of losing their children to vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Image credit: GFWC 

Last week I had the pleasure to speak the Interclub dinner for the Barbourville Woman’s Study Club, Barbourville Junior Woman’s Study Club, and Barbourville YoungerWoman’s Club. The clubs collected enough donations in one meeting to vaccinate five children for a lifetime, and they completed 56 advocacy actions to let Representative Hal Rogers, Senator Rand Paul, and Senator Mitch McConnell know that they support funding for global vaccine access. Those three clubs are a testament to the collective impact that a group of individuals can have when devoted to a common cause. 

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” Rose worked to improve education in an area overrun with poverty, and that would be her legacy. What will be this generation’s legacy, and what will your legacy be?

I Am a Clubwoman: General Federation of Women’s Clubs

In June one of the sweet girls from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs public relations department asked if I would allow her to interview me for a piece in the magazine.  It wasn’t the best time in my life for an interview, we decided to wait until December.

If you don’t know about General Federation of Women’s Clubs, you should definitely read up!
Here is a snippet from the website.

GFWC – Living the Volunteer Spirit

“The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. With more than 100,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state, the District of Columbia, and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members work in their own communities to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding.”
You can read more about GFWC here.  
I appreciate that Addie asked to interview me, I am flattered by the piece.  I owe so much to my club, Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club, and my involvement with GFWC partner organization Shot@Life. 
Hope you enjoy and please take a second to learn about this wonderful organization.  If you enjoy community service, volunteerism, and non-profits, a GFWC club would love for you to be involved.  

BJWC Charitable Purchase: Poinsettias For a Purpose

Every year many families “deck the halls,” but what if your seasonal decorations could help support charitable projects in your community?  Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club in conjunction with Pemberton’s Nursery are offering poinsettias, fresh wreathes, and garland.  A large portion of the proceeds will go to the Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club and the many projects we conduct in the community.  Bluegrass Children’s Fund, Santa’s Shoppers, along with partnership organizations such as Bluegrass Domestic Violence (now known as Greenhouse 17), Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass, Hope Center, Children’s Advocacy Center, and many more local agencies benefit from the hard work of Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club.  We are unable to fulfill all of our commitments without the support of our community.  We ask that you consider purchasing your live and fresh holiday decorations from BJWC this year.  

Poinsettias are $13 each 

In addition to the poinsettias, we have the return of the greenery options:

  • 22” Mixed Noble Fir w/ Cones Wreath – $24
  • 20” Boxwood Wreath – $26
  • 75 Feet of White Pine Roping – $35

Orders will be placed on Wednesday, November 20, so any order will need to be received on the evening of Tuesday, November 19.  Please contact [email protected] or myself directly.  
Our club greatly appreciates your continued support.  Your generosity allows us to contribute to and continue our partnerships with many other non-profit organizations in the Lexington, Kentucky community.  
Have you satisfied all your holiday decorating needs?  You can still help us.  We are asking for Santa’s Shoppers sponsorships.  

Please check out Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club for more information on our non-profit organization or any of our charitable giving projects.  

Happy Thoughtful Tuesday,

Everyone Needs Validation..

I was speaking about global vaccine access at KFWC State Convention

It seems like I have been so consumed with other things lately, I haven’t posted about something that
really matters to me.  My true passion for advocacy arose from my involvement with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign.  There are not words to describe how much the people I work with inspire me.  We have so many outside interests yet we are still devoted to one similar cause.  Everyone involved with the campaign believes that every child deserves access to potentially life saving vaccines.  I have been given so many opportunities and incredible support.  Whether it is Aaron talking to us about “using our wine glass” and channeling our voice, Jamie watching over ALL of the champions so diligently, quiet but powerful Maggie driving the campaign forward, or Anastasia and her bright smile and encouraging words, all of the champions have amazing support with the United Nations Foundation staff.  I am honored and grateful to be a part of such a wonderful campaign.  When I feel like mankind is lost in a very ugly and chaotic world, I look the Shot@Life campaign and I know there is hope.  There are good people that love others without hesitation and with true kindness, and my hope for humanity lies in you.  When I have been made to feel lesser and unaccomplished by someone who should have been my biggest support, you have made me feel powerful and validated.

In the words of a dear friend, “Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.”  You are amazing and you were meant to shine.  You should be able to trust others, but most of all learn to trust yourself.  You know that you are powerful beyond measure, and you can achieve anything that you put your heart into.  Don’t let the belittling, petty, and hurtful actions of others change the heart of who you are.  We were born to do amazing things.

Happy Smiling Sunday,

HLN’s Raising America: The Bluegrass Belle Is Going to Television

May 18, 2013
Photo Credit: Edelman’s for Starbucks

This has been a crazy week around our house, and that isn’t always a bad thing.  A few weeks ago at Mom2.0Summit I did Shark Tank with HLN’s Raising America with Kyra Phillips.  I was a nervous wreck and nearly talked myself out of it several times.  I think I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of something great.

I have spent the last 3.5 years raising my son, and having my husband make me feel like I was an unequal partner in our relationship.  He had worked his desk job in Bogota, Colombia while I stayed behind to care for our son.  I’m not sure how many times I heard, “All you do is watch Gabe and go to the gym.”  My husband on the other hand worked 9 to 5 most days, and had his evenings and weekends free to prowl around Bogota at his leisure.  I on the other hand worked from the time I got up til our son went to bed.  I worked on educating Gabe, teaching him manners, being a mother and a father, going to basketball practice, soccer practice, and everything in between.  I also managed our finances, did classwork, and rarely had any time to myself.  I needed the Shark Tank as validation that I was more than just someone’s mother.  I was a woman, a contribution to society, and I had a voice that should be heard.

When I saw the first three panelist raise those green lights, I knew I was safe.  Rena Popp had her apprehensions about my ability to handle the pressure of being on air, which might have been valid on that day.  I have since figured out I can handle anything thrown at me.  A friend referred to me as a “Steel Magnolia” and it made me beam with pride.  Southern women are known to overcome adversity.

The late Rose G. Cole 

When I saw the episode air today announcing who was chosen, I was almost overwhelmed.  My faith and courage had paid off.  I don’t doubt that my great grandmother Rose G. Cole was in heaven shouting, “that’s my girl.”  I’m not sure anyone knew how to overcome adversity quite like she did.  My Granny Peace would be equally as proud.  She and my grandmothers, Adean Cole and Norma Peace are my true “Steel Magnolias.”  I guess when you grow up in a very rural part of southeastern Kentucky which can be a harsh environment, you learn to never give up.

I hope I can represent my hometown well and I look forward to brainstorming with the producers about my contribution to the show.  I’m not sure when I will be on air, but I imagine it won’t be long.  I need to get with my assigned producer to prep.  Thanks to the producers and Kyra Phillips for listening to the antics of this southern woman and mother.  A special thank you to all the Mom2Summit attendees that approached me after the pitch.  I have a few other projects in the works and I look forward to building relationships in the blogging/branding community.  I have to give a shout out to Brittney Wells who really started all this by encouraging me to apply for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs partnership with United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I am inspired daily by the people that surround my life. I couldn’t do any of this without my silly and curious son, who has taught me I don’t have to be so serious.  Lastly, thank you God for giving me the courage to stand up and speak when I had so many other things going on.  Now I am starting to sound like Miss America, so the thank you’s must stop but I appreciate everyone in my life.

On a side note, when they pulled my photo someone assumed the blonde haired, blue eyed girl on my facebook photography business fan page was me.  It is actually my beautiful cousin Brianna.  I really don’t mind, people can think that is me 😉


Woohoo!  This is an amazing day in my life.  I am going to be on HLN’s Raising America with Kyra Phillips speaking about the problems facing military families and children.  I am going to post the official list with links to the others on Monday when it is published. Congrats to all my fellow Shark Tank Mom2Summit green lighters, I am honored to be among your ranks!

Happy Fantastic Friday,

Shot@Life and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs: A Shot at Sisterhood

April 24, 2013

Photo Credit: Carol Waters 

I first met Carol Waters through an email.  I learned I was selected as a Shot@Life Champion through
the General Federation of Women’s Clubs partnership program.  I knew that there were four of us selected and I wanted to know more about the other ladies.  Carol Waters, Emily White, Diane Glasgow, and myself were chosen to represent GFWC. What do you do when you don’t know anyone personally but what to get a feel for who they are?  Well if your me, you scope out their Facebook.

My first impression of Carol was she had a warm smile and she was a devoted member of her GFWC club.  Carol has been a member of a GFWC affiliated club since 1977.  She is a devoted wife to her husband Denny, and has two adult children.  I am sure she is a “mother” to many other children, as a pediatric nurse.  Carol is currently the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of New Hampshire President and has held several official positions with GFWC.  

Photo Credit: Carol Waters

Carol used her dedication to nursing and medicine to fuel her passion about the Shot@Life campaign.  She discovered Shot@Life through the GFWC International President Mary Ellen Lasiter and GFWC’s original Champion Nancy Jones.  Her work as a pediatric nurse had shown her the value of vaccinations in childhood health.  She strongly believes that no child or parent should have to suffer from a disease which could have been prevented with a vaccine.  Carol was quoted as saying, “Shot at Life makes babies healthy, and Mamas happy.”  She believes that one individual working toward a cause can make a difference by creating a ripple effect.  

Photo Credit: Carol Waters  The four  GFWC Shot@Life Champions Emily, Diane, Jessica, and Carol

Carol is looking forward to bringing Shot@Life to her club at both local and state levels.  She has distributed information through her personal Facebook and through the GFWCNH.  Carol had a letter to the editor published in her local paper regarding the Shot@Life campaign.  She will present Shot@Life on May 10 at the annual GFWCNH state meeting.  Carol is working on several other ideas for fundraising and advocacy.  

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs promote sisterhood through the program “sole sisters“.  GFWC values that our membership is as active as the sole of a shoe, but we are also vital to the soul of each other and our clubs.  We are taught to inspire, encourage, and value our GFWC sisters.  I am honored that Carol is not just my GFWC sister but my Shot@Life sister as well.  The Shot@Life campaign is part of our sole/soul.

Happy 1st Birthday to the Shot@Life campaign which is coincidentally Federation Day for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.  On April 24, 1890 the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was founded.  I hope that many of my other GFWC sisters will help celebration the birthday of two amazing organizations that are dear to the heart of many.  

There are many ways you can participate in the #birthdaybash.  You can share the Global Mom Relay posts which will earn Shot@Life a $5 donation per day.  You can also follow the hashtags #birthdaybash and #getvax on twitter.  Shot@Life has partnered with several bloggers to share stories of other Champions which are being featured on many social media outlets including their Storify page.  

Happy Birthday Shot@Life 
Happy Federation Day General Federation of Women’s Clubs
Happy Wondrous Wednesday


Pinwheels for Prevention

 Five children a day die in the United States alone from abuse and neglect according to Every Child Matters.  Every child deserves a shot at a healthy future and life.  They should be dreaming, pretending, learning, and growing.  They shouldn’t be fearing their caregivers, dealing with physical or mental abuse, or worrying about food, clothing, and shelter.  Sadly, this is a reality for many children in the United States and around the World.

A pinwheel is often a fond reminder of happiness and childhood.  Please join the Bluegrass Junior Women’s Club and other Lexington area General Federation of Women’s Clubs in honoring children facing abuse or neglect on April 7 at 4pm with a Pinwheels for Prevention garden at Wellington Park.  The club is requesting $20 donations to Prevent Child Abuse America to be included on the sponsorship sign but any donation is welcome.  If you want to be included on the sponsorship sign please ensure your donation is made prior to April 1st and online donations can be made via paypal through this link.

Happy Friendly Friday,