Thanks to Chris for the shout out to International Women's Day!
I was a little nervous going in, never knowing what to expect at events in East Biloxi. The last event I had done with Coastal Women for Change was the NAACP radiothon, and attendance was less than expected. So I wasn't sure what to make of the fact that Sharon was telling me she was getting calls from across the coast from women interested in coming out.
Maybe I should back up.
About a month ago I met with Sharon, president of Coastal Women for Change, an East Biloxi women's group founded after the storm to address the new set of needs, and proposed to her an idea I had been carrying around basically since I had joined thier group... to hold the first ever International Women's Day (IWD) celebration, bringing together residents and volunteers for a day of fun and activities. When I talked to Sharon, she jumped on it. Within a week I was getting emails from her and the groups she was inviting. We planned performers, vendors, and educational tables to come out to Beck Park, the Saturday after IWD, March 10. Through these emails we learned that there had been one previous Women's Day celebrations in MS; last year a group had held an event in Jackson. We were still the first to bring it to the Coast.
I wanted to celebrate on March 8th, the day celebrated around the world. It was a Thursday, so not well suited for a community event, but there are many women in East Biloxi who sit in their FEMA trailers all day, who won't be able to make it to an event in the park, so on March 8th, 100 potted plants in hand, volunteers from Hands On and CWC set out door-to-door to find women in the community and give them a token of our appreciation. I think both volunteers and residents had a great day!
So back to Saturday. With an army of NCCC ladies, I loaded up the car with tables, sound system, and toys for kids to head out to Beck Park. Karissa was there with her community gardeners, watering plants and handing out seeds. Although it started out slow, by mid-day and lunchtime, there was a strong showing of East Biloxi residents and Hands On volunteers enjoying the perfect spring weather, eating in the grass, and talking to the the different tables. CWC was selling thier first round of t-shirts, and they looked great, even on Darnell of the American Friends Service Committee. Many people could be seen with the reflecting house numbers that Triad was giving out, or buttons from the ACLU.
All in all, a good time was had by all.
I think for me, the best part was just being able to hand out with my friends - the members of CWC and other community members - and just catch up while we sat in the sun.
Sharon was also pleased with the event, and is already talking about making this an annual event.
I think that's a great idea.