By definition, in competition there is usually a ‘winner’.
Today I’m writing to celebrate the achievements of three award finalists and explore how community, being part of and giving to them, is pretty darn good for us.
After attending the 2nd annual ‘INSPIRE’ conference I was one of 100 entrepreneurs on an exuberant high. Hosted by the Business Girls Network (BGN) on International Women’s Day, it’s aim; to motivate, inspire, connect and celebrate women in business.
Having received the ‘Heart of the Community’ award at last year’s inaugural event, I jumped at the chance for Light Mind to sponsor this year. It was heart warming to see the diverse ways each finalist makes a contribution in communities they care about.
Meet our award finalists…
Sarah Parfitt founded the Media Hub – a networking group for media professionals, a freelance trainer at the BBC and also an Ambassador (volunteer) for Partners for Change Ethiopia (PFC Ethiopia) – a charity supporting children in poor communities in Ethiopia. Sarah is passionate about connecting people both locally and globally.
Jodie Humphries, a Digital Marketing Consultant who in her ‘spare’ time is known as ‘Maidenhead Mum’. Jodie writes a popular blog to showcase local events and the stories about the people that run those events; many of whom volunteer their time to make Maidenhead a better place for everyone to live.
Petra Erving set up Maidenhead Massage Therapy from scratch offering specialist massage therapies to supports individuals resolve any body issues. Petra cares about people, her mission is to inspire them to be aware of their health. Through working with post cancer surgery patients who have been diagnosed with lymphedema (a long term condition with no cure), her support has often extended past the physical to emotional and mental as a trusted confidante.
When asked, ‘Why is community important to you?’ everyone referenced the Business Girls Network. Petra shared, “when I found myself with no support, help or ‘community’, I was in a pretty awful and confusing place. I didn’t know what I was going to do having spent six years building up a business. However, I asked a question in the network and the advice, support and help I received really blew me away.”
Talking about the local Maidenhead community, Jodie recognises that,
“Community is everything!”
“There is rarely a dull day in my blog inbox! Last year the Maidenhead Waterways project asked if I would like to be a narrator on a video they were making. I gave it a go because I know so many of these projects are volunteer-led and don’t have big budgets; it’s just a case of rolling up your sleeves and helping where you can. I’ve been so inspired by all the different groups and networks in Maidenhead, I use the blog to showcase a lot of the hard work that goes on to support our town.”
Sarah’s perspective expands the community concept further, “In our ever-changing, fast-paced world, I think we should cherish our local communities just that little bit more as they give us all a sense of stability and well-being. Equally, in the current political climate we can no longer live in a bubble – we need to reach out to those living in more volatile parts of the world, who sometimes face insurmountable challenges in their daily lives.”
Little by little, a little becomes a lot – Tanzanian proverb
Sarah shared this proverb. We don’t need to make huge gestures to make a big difference. We all have a choice of where to place our focus and what we choose to give. To impact our immediate community, it can be as simple as choosing to smile at someone in the street, or really listen to the answer when you ask a neighbour ‘how are you?’ That small uplift creates a ripple effect of positive action.
Sarah says, “All of the women in Gende Tesfa have inspired me and taught me so much about gratitude and resilience. Despite facing immense challenges in their daily lives, such as struggling to feed their children, sanitation issues and the stigma of leprosy, these women still find a reason to smile each day and have such an amazing, positive attitude” – proving that no matter what’s going on in our lives, we can always find something to be grateful for.
Keeping it real…
The life of an award finalist is not all glitz and glam. Flattered to have been nominated (the word ‘flabbergasted’ was even used), I asked each of the finalists where they were when they found out about their nomination:
Sarah was, “Working in Costa in Cookham – not as a barista! But doing some forward-planning for the Media Hub.”
Jodie ‘squeaked out loud’ when the email came through, “I spend most of my time in my big furry slippers! So that was me, cup of tea, slippers on, sat at the Mac working on editing some photos.”
Petra couldn’t remember where she was, “However, I was very surprised. I don’t do what I do for awards of recognition. I do what I do because I love it.”
In the movie of your life…
The awards hit at the same time as the Oscars so each finalist chose a movie star who would play them in the film ‘Heart of the Community’…
|"Let's go big... Cameron Diaz!!"|
|"Frances McDormand - 'I have a little trouble with compliance' - BAFTA speech, Three Billboards"|
What difference will you make today?
As Sarah rightly says, “despite all the wonders of modern technology, you can’t beat face to face contact” and it was my absolute privilege to meet all three of these amazing women at the INSPIRE conference. On the day Sarah was presented with the award but in my opinion, they are all winners.
So ‘little by little’ – what difference will you make?
INSPIRE conference images taken by Jodie Humphries.