July 2, 2013
Hope Lloyd is a rising senior at Birmingham-Southern College (BSC). She was selected to participate in BSC's Hess Fellows Program - a program that pairs students with nonprofit organizations dedicated to advocacy. Hope was an adviser at Anytown Alabama 2013 and is serving at the YWCA this summer.
Independence Day is almost here. As we fire up our grills and don our red, white and blue, we also take time to reflect on the joys of being American. One American value that often gets a lot of attention on the 4th of July is freedom. Americans take pride in all of the freedoms afforded us in the Bill of Rights and we hold our forefathers (and foremothers) in the highest esteem for insuring that these freedoms were laid out for us to inherit. We also take pride in the growth we have engaged in as a country. Citizens and legislators, to this day, continue to discuss freedom and explore possibilities to better ensure that it is equally offered to all citizens.
When discussing freedom, I cannot help but quote a couple of individuals who have expanded on the subject more eloquently than I could ever hope to. My first quote comes from Dwight D. Eisenhower. Good ol' Ike once said, "Freedom bestows on us the priceless gift of opportunity—if we neglect our opportunities we shall certainly lose our freedom." I felt like this quote pinpointed one of the best aspects of all our freedoms: opportunity. But Eisenhower took this one step further; he highlighted the responsibility we have as freedom holders, to utilize the opportunities offered by our freedoms.
The second quote I'd like to bring to the star-spangled picnic table comes from a man who has been at the forefront of many peoples' thoughts recently. Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Mandela reminds us that freedom is not something that can be individual. Our freedom is dependent on the actions of others, and others' freedom is dependent on our actions.
If I have observed anything here at the YWCA, it has been the focus that the staff places on people: the people the YWCA serves, fellow employees at the YWCA, partners in the community and the people that make up these partnerships. The YWCA knows that people make up the focus and purpose of our work. And a lot of this focus on people centers around opportunity: equal housing opportunities, child care opportunities and opportunities for safety. So as you finish off your barbecue this Thursday and enjoy a night of laughter and fireworks, cast a thought to freedom, and the freedom fighters here at the YWCA.