WE CAN Event Inspires Women’s Empowerment

WORDS, WIT AND WISDOM, the 14th annual event which brings together several well known authors and 500 eager readers was a day that lived up to its name once again.  Words, Wit and Wisdom that spoke of women, empowerment, humor, support, success and the unique role of WE CAN, the Cape’s resource for women in transition.

WE CAN operates with a small staff and depends on more than 300 volunteers to lend aid in the form of resources, programs and support to more the 3000 women. Words, Wit and Wisdom is WE CAN’s major fundraising event of the year providing a large portion of their annual budget and the event is a canvas to illustrate the importance of empowering women in the Cape Cod community.

This year’s authors were:  Bruce Handy, a writer and journalist who recently published Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature and has done extensive interviews for Vanity Fair.  Nancy Thayer author of 30 books including Stepping and most recently A Nantucket Wedding.  She writes of families and friendship from a woman’s viewpoint.  Ruth Reichl a food writer and critic who’s work includes the memoir Tender at the Bone and new novel Delicious!

Nancy Thayer, who earned both an BA and MA in English Literature from University of Missouri in the 1960s stunned the audience with the fact that in all those academic classes she was never assigned a book by a woman author!  That inspired her to write from a woman’s viewpoint and since then has enjoyed many women writers.

Ruth Reichl reminisced about her start in Berkeley, CA where she lived in a commune and wrote her first restaurant review. The humorous remembrance included the experience of bringing her commune friends to the high-end San Francisco restaurant and how she submitted what she thought was an amazing story, but not a typical review.  Regretting her work on the way home, she called her editor begging him not to read it.  Luckily, he already had and loved it.  A food writer was born!  “Be bold, take a chance, set yourself apart,” advised Reichl, “That has informed my life.”

Gina Barreca, Distinguished Professor of English at University of Connecticut, humorist and columnist for the Hartford Courant was the emcee and had the audience roaring with her take on women’s place in the world especially as a writer.  She’s the author of If you Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse? and numerous other humorous books with her take on social norms from a woman’s point of view.

But the event hit its high point with the introduction of the Voices of WE CAN.  Three women, Jan, Dacia and Caroline, told their stories with words, wit and wisdom and a great deal of emotion as to how WE CAN had helped re-shape their lives.  All were women in despair who turned to WE CAN and participated in programs that brought them hope, confidence and finally the empowerment they needed to reach for their goals.

In another moving moment WE CAN Board President Pam Kukla presented the Woman of the Year Award to Ellen Bravo founder of the 9 to 5 Organization (the one that inspired the film) and current head of Family Values@Work a network of state coalitions (soon to include Massachusetts) working for family friendly policies for businesses and workers.  She made a strong case for better policies to support families like the Family and Medical Leave Act and challenged the audience to stand up and do their part because “WE CAN and We Will create the world we want and deserve.”  An inspirational call to an empowered audience.

Earlier in the day retiring WE CAN Executive Director Andi Genser bid farewell to the audience and assured her continued support of WE CAN and then introduced recently appointed Executive Director Dianne Gauthier who began her new role in March.

WE CAN Empowers Women of all ages and circumstances undergoing challenging life transitions by providing unique services and support that bring increased opportunity, self-sufficiency, stability and lasting positive change for themselves, their families and ultimately the entire cape cod community.

To learn more about WE CAN go to their website www.wecancenter.org and select Programs.  To get more information on Words, Wit and Wisdom, and to learn more about today’s speakers, select Events, Words, Wit and Wisdom

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