Last week, I attended the California Women’s Conference in Long Beach. Maria Shriver led it, but she wasn’t the reason I attended. Nope…I bought a ticket to the afternoon session—The Minerva Awards—because Bono was speaking.
To say I love Bono is an understatement. In 2002, I traveled to Ireland with the primary goal of seeing various U2 landmarks and trying to run into Bono at a pub in Temple Bar. I’ve seen U2 play 8 times in the last 10 years, 6 times of which I was on the floor for the show, watching beads of sweat drip down my gorgeous little Irishman’s face.
Listening to him call thousands of women to action Wednesday for the ONE and the RED campaign was like having honey drizzled in my ears. The man didn’t just talk about the epidemic—or emergency, rather—in Africa, he spewed poetry about it. He dusted the air around us with verbal confectioners’ sugar, and truly amazed me with his commitment to making a difference.
What was astounding, though, was that he was not my favorite part of the day.
The Minerva Awards are designed to acknowledge women who embody the Roman goddess Minerva (AKA Greek goddess Athena)—star of California’s state seal—in their commitment to using strength, creativity and passion to make a difference in the world.
Among this year’s honorees were self-help writer and publisher, Louise Hay (whom I love), everyone’s favorite feminist, Gloria Steinem, tennis star and misogynist defeater, Billie Jean King, and creator of the Penny Lane girls’ home Ivelise Markovits. Then there was Betty Chinn. The woman who moved me more than Bono did.
This sweet little citizen of Eureka, CA took it upon herself to start a program to feed the homeless. She began by baking donuts and brewing coffee in her kitchen then driving around town, handing it out to people who needed it. As people in a local church learned of Betty’s endeavors, they pitched in and now the project includes full meals and a delivery van. All because of one ordinary woman’s compassion and empathy for people around her.
Betty Chinn is no different from you or me, and that left me wondering: What more can I do? What more can we do?