On Saturday morning, about 30 of us gathered in uptown Charlotte (along with thousands of others) in honor of Circle de Luz. Most of us ran the 5k (there were some half-marathoners in our group, too), and all of us celebrated the amazing experience that is Circle de Luz. Afterwards, we had a great breakfast at Mert’s Uptown to celebrate finishing the race and raising over $5000 for the extensive programming and comprehensive mentoring that is provided through Circle de Luz.
The night before the race, we- Hijas (the girls in our programs) and M’ijas (our donors and volunteers) gathered for a State of the Circle pasta dinner. Here are some of my prepared remarks (I ad-libbed so I went a bit off script) from that celebration:
It is my great pleasure to be here this evening with each of you to celebrate the amazing Hijas, Mijas, and supporters of Circle de Luz. We’re honored that each of you is to share this evening of reflection and celebration with us. Almost three years ago- it’ll be three years on March 26th, a group of women from various backgrounds sat around a table- not unlike this one- to discuss how to make our dream a reality That dream was to create an organization that radically empowered young Latinas by supporting and inspiring them in the pursuit of their possibilities through extensive mentoring, holistic programming, and scholarship funds. And, tonight, each one of us in this room is richer because of the hope, the promise, and the execution of that dream.
For your part in this Circle- whether you are an Hija who brightens our days and gives us faith in the future with your smile and dreams, whether you are a m’ija cooking dinner for 40 of us, a m’ija conceiving of a program for our girls and writing a grant for it, a m’ija offering her Saturday to drive and be with our Hijas during one of their programs, a m’ija who spends countless hours each week making sure our bills are paid and budget is balanced, or a m’ija clocking running miles and raising money so that we may continue to offer such great programming to our girls, there are not sufficient enough words to count our thanks. We are thankful for you, and we are humbled by you.
When Circle de Luz was first conceived, we had no idea how far it would go. We didn’t know if women from around Charlotte and the country would buy into the idea of contributing part of their income each year into creating scholarship possibilities for seventh grade girls who would one day be high school graduates planning for further education. The reality is that women from around the country have embraced Circle de Luz: 160 women from 24 states to be exact, making it possible for 18 young women to take the Circle de Luz journey.
Hijas, I don’t want that number to be lost on you. Behind all of you- each of you- is more than one hundred women who have said- with their presence and with their financial support- that they believe in you, that you are worthy of an investment, that they know that great things are before you and they are willing to be a part of your journey.
And regularly, as part of your Circle de Luz journey, you see that truth. You see women who plan their Saturdays around taking you to the theatre or on a run, to plant trees or on college visits. You see women and, sometimes men, who are willing to share their wisdom and experience with you- with their reward being your engagement in the moment and the promise of your future. That generosity, that spirit is both amazing and affirming of what we all know to be true and that is that for thousands of years, women have gathered together from the bodega to the sanctuary in order to heal their communities. We use our inherent sisterhood to embrace one another and change the world.
It doesn’t matter if our mijas don’t live where our hijas live, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t Latina, what matters is that we inherently know each other’s hearts and we all know how much education matters, how much it can change things- not just for she is who educated but for everyone she touches.
When we stand together, we stand energized by what we are accomplishing in the present tense and excited about the possibilities. Our hijas are each finding their way, their voices, their answers and what they are most finding, I hope, is that we all believe in them.
So 3 years after this all began, we gather together and break bread over our blessings: that women from around the country heeded the call to the circle, that women in this community have not only heeded the call but also filled the leadership and volunteering roles that this endeavor creates daily, that the young Hijas who have come into our life are inspired and inspiring.
To each of you, thank you for making Circle de Luz what it is: a beautifully rich experience for young women who are so vital and vibrant.
Let us celebrate every person who has chosen to believe in Circle de Luz through a donation of their time or resources and to every beautiful Hija who has so enthusiastically embarked on the Circle de Luz journey. May you always feel the gratitude and faith that exists for you and may each coming year only multiply the magic that we’ve created by multitudes.