It is a hideously rainy night and I am slogging through serious puddles in a vain attempt not to look like a drowned rat when I reach my destination. I am only mildly successful. The house is lit up and I can hear the voices and laughter of the women (yes, this is a women only event) before I even open the door. Is this some great party – on a week night, in the suburbs? – no, it is the brainchild of five amazing women who decided that they could do something more. More than care for their families (which they all continue to do), volunteer in the community (still doing that, as well), more than work at home or out of the home (again, yes)? Yes, they went even further and saw a need for local charities to be given a bit more attention or, as they called it A Step Up.
I walk in and am warmly greeted and I write a check for $35 for the featured charity (tonight More Than Words) and place it into a large glass bowl. The energy is wonderful and although I only know two people there, I am welcomed and made to feel comfortable. We mingle and chat over wine and lovely food and it seems like another Mom’s Night Out. Then our attention is directed by the hostess to the reason we are here and we gather on couches and chairs and turn to the speaker. She is engaging and well-spoken and sincere and clearly outlines the program and why she started it. Her name is Jodi Rosenbaum and she if the founder and executive director of More Than Words*. More Than Words is a physical bookstore on Moody Street in Waltham and it is also a social services connected program that helps some of the most marginalized youth through support and job training. Jodi’s commitment and dedication are evident and we are all attentive but when we really sit up and become fully engaged is when the two teen speakers – graduates of the program – tell us their stories. Their stories are a far cry from the comfortable suburban lives we are living and the opportunities that we are able to provide for our children. In turns, I feel guilty and blessed.
The amount of work that has gone into this evening is incredible. These women have, as a group, carefully researched the charity being showcased that evening and prepared for a party of 100 plus people, and made it look effortless. All five members of A Step Up invite their friends who are encouraged to invite their friends. It is a truly collaborative effort.
Here is a great article about the women behind A Step Up that ran in Sunday’s Boston Globe –
‘Giving circles’ boost donations, catch on in communities west of Boston – The Boston Globe and here are A Step Up Events listings.
*MTW is led by Founder and Executive Director Jodi Rosenbaum. She has over 13 years of experience in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and education fields and was a Teach For America Corps member. Jodi has an Ed.M. in risk and prevention from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education