Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Finding strength through service to others
Special to The Union
When I recently wrote about the many different types of women I have been, one person gave this feedback: “I believe you’ve made your point as ‘Every Woman’ and the next step would be to offer more hope and specifics for women to focus on.”
So what hope can I offer? While Nevada County is virtually stepping over itself with various nonprofits all striving to do their best possible work to help those in need, it is still sometimes difficult to make the connection from need to actual service.
Sometimes there are roadblocks and hurdles and cracks people fall through. People in crisis need more than a number to call. Often they need someone to take their hand and walk them through the fire.
What I know is that no matter what life is offering up now — good or bad — “this, too, shall pass.”
When I was raising my two children as a single parent, I was very new to the area. I worked in an all-male environment, and I found it very difficult to make friends.
There was a period of time when my life consisted of caring for my children, working, and little else.
I did not have a support system and briefly debated leaving the area, but somehow I knew if I could tap into the richness of the county, my children would be the better for it.
When I initially reached out, I hit many obstacles. A lack of childcare kept me out of support groups. A lack of finances kept me from enrolling in various classes, workshops and other activities.
I spent some lonely months in a cycle of despair. “This, too, shall pass” became my mantra. It was hard to see at the time and it is important to note that instead of wallowing in it and waiting for change, I took steps to make change happen.
The single most important thing I did (besides therapy) was to join Soroptimist International of Grass Valley. I would like to say I was full of virtue and was only looking for a way to help others, but in truth I was only thinking of myself.
I desperately needed some girlfriends. I craved connection and a social life. Everything that followed was a bonus.
Soroptimist International of Grass Valley is a service group of women in business who work to better the lives of women and children (primarily girls), both on a local and international level.
My biggest concern was that I was not worthy or good enough to be among these community leaders. Again, I was given advice I will pass on here: “act as if you are.” I did and I was.
It is possible that any service group may have had the same effect, but for me, at that particular time, the women who made up Soroptimist International of Grass Valley literally changed my life — for a number of reasons.
First, I stopped thinking only of myself and how hard my life had become and started focusing on ways I could help others — many who had it much worse than I could imagine.
I was able to make suggestions and take the hand that needed holding.
Second, it introduced me to women who were successful, strong and confident.
Third, I did indeed form deep, lasting relationships with women I will cherish forever.
The best advice I can give to those wanting to make a change is to look outside your own circumstance and offer help to others. There are services available in this county to help with childcare, food, housing, education, abuse, recovery, transportation, heat, even recreation and pets.
If you see an event you are interested in attending but can’t afford the price of admission, offer to volunteer.
Over the course of several years, and coming back to “this, too, shall pass,” my life did indeed improve immensely.
My children grew older and more independent. I found a partner to share my life with.
I rediscovered my dreams and who I wanted to be. I found the courage to take the leap required to achieve those dreams. All the while, I continued working in service to others.
There will always be those who don’t really want to change their circumstances.
They will use the system and take advantage of the goodness others try to bestow, but for those truly seeking a hand up, we must do what we can to provide an easier climb. And if you are lucky, the person you help the most may truly be yourself.
Soroptimist International of Grass Valley is holding “A Day For Women” April 18 at Sierra College. For more information, go to sigv.org.
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