Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Remarkable Women Who Inspire Us

from the League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County

By: Liz Gamble
League Member Since 2016

As Mother’s Day approaches, we thought it would be noteworthy, and a bit fun, to hear from a few League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County members about “Why They League.” And, how their involvement in the League is helping to shape the world for their children and grandchildren.

These remarkable women are just four of more than 300 exceptional women and men who have joined the Palm Beach chapter within the last couple of years. Among them are moms and grandmothers who give of their time, expertise and energy, and who dare to act!

Here’s to all the amazing women we have been blessed to know, who have bestowed on us love and wisdom, and who have been the best of role models. We are grateful to you this Mother’s Day and every day!

A few words from our members:

Chanelle Harper: Choosing to be a stay-at-home-mom, she has her hands full with three girls and one boy, ages nine, eight, six and two. Yet, she has dedicated time and energy to serving as a newly elected LWVPBC board member and an active member in the chapter’s Young Leaguers. “Future generations need the knowledge and tools vital to making democracy work. The League of Women Voters is a premier conduit for that education.”

Caela Farren: If you like the new LWVPBC website, give a shout-out to Caela who led the charge for updating the League’s communications vehicles. As chair of the Communications Committee, and former owner of a D.C.-based international employee and career training company, she brought to the project a multitude of leadership, managerial and diplomatic skills wrapped in humor. As a mom to three grown daughters and grandmother to five grandchildren, she has some pretty compelling reasons for giving her all to League activism! “We all are responsible for maintaining a strong and healthy democracy.”

Penny Butler: Are you noticing more captivating activity on LWVPBC’s Facebook? Give a “thumbs-up-like” to Penny, who has been a League member for seven months. She’s also the assistant director of information technology for Florida International University. Plus, as a mom to two grown daughters, she is unyielding in her desire to inspire others to be knowledgeable and engaged citizens. “When our children are aware of their roles as citizens, they will be inspired to be active in our democracy and hence make living in the U.S. a momentous experience for them. “

Joyce Sullivan: If you’re in charge of a corporate philanthropic budget in the Palm Beaches, expect a call from Joyce. Well known throughout South Florida for her charitable endeavors, political activism and successful media career, she has taken on the role as LWVPC’s new Development Chair! A mom to three grown children; three grandkids and one on the way, Joyce is adamant about giving back to the community. “The League is 97-years-old. Every action it has taken has paved the way for the next generation.”

Why Do You League?

Chanelle: My husband joined the League first and encouraged me to join as well. After attending my first event, I could tell there was something special about this group. Right away it was clear that members were passionate about issues, but very warm and inviting at the same time.

Caela: I joined the League to learn more about local politics and to contribute in some way to making the world a better place, especially the environment. I stay because I have met fascinating women, some of whom have become very good friends. The League is involved and educating others on issues that I care deeply about – Voting Rights, Gun Safety, Environment, Women’s Rights and Justice. I like that it is non-partisan and provides a great education for its members as well as our Palm Beach County community.

Penny: I recently moved to Palm Beach County after marrying my wonderful husband. I wanted to join a local public organization that would teach me more about public policy issues and help me be more instrumental in educating others about these issues. I kept hearing about the League of Women Voters and their advocacy work in the community. I saw how they educate others, and at times, influence policy. I am a Public Administrator, an educator and a mentor at heart. I wanted to get more involved.

Joyce: As a long-time volunteer, I recognize the real thing when I see it. League members are passionate. They give voice to some of the most important issues of our time. They’re willing to stand and be counted!

Do you see a connection between your participation in the League and leaving the world a better place for your children and grandchildren?

Joyce: Did you know that Mother’s Day is steeped in years of women’s activism that coincided with such women’s movements as suffrage and labor movements? Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mother’s Work Days in 1858 to protest the lack of sanitation that caused disease-bearing insects and polluted water to sicken or kill poor workers. In 1870, Boston pacifist, poet, and suffragist, Julia Ward Howe, proclaimed a special day for mothers to oppose war. For the next three decades, Americans celebrated Mother’s Days for Peace on June 2. Women political activists fought to end lynching and organized to end child labor, trafficking of women, and consumer fraud. These women, and all who participated, were role models. As a League member, I stand on their shoulders serving as a role model for my children and grandchildren.

Penny: The League is an organization not only for girls who become women and hopefully League members, but for our boys as well. My husband and I send that message to our children by participating together in the League. Children need to know that their parents and grandparents are aware of social issues that affect their future. Our children see, that despite our busy schedules, we are willing to give our time and effort to bring about awareness and change. The League is very organized as to the issues that they decide to champion. Becoming better educated on the issues that will have an impact on our future generations helps me to discuss them with others and realize what change is needed. More importantly, it is clear that the League is a group of action. They can make it happen. And it is all for our future generations.

Caela: Because I’m a League member, I have a much better grasp on the issues I care about and can have conversations with my older grand-daughters about women’s rights, immigration, gun safety and the importance of voting. My involvement in the League has given me a wider range of information from which to speak and converse with them. We’re not always on the same page AND we have great conversations. Diversity is another central issue for them and for me. My oldest granddaughter wrote a paper on diversity in order to get into University of Colorado at Boulder. I was privileged to edit it for her based on some of our conversations over the years.

Chanelle: Through my participation with the League, I am becoming aware and educated on issues thereby giving me the tools and confidence to take action. I hope that my children will take notice and get involved as well.

What Kind of World/Country Do You Want to Pass on to Future Generations and How Does Participating in the League Help You Achieve That Vision?

Chanelle: Ideally, a world where freedoms like voting won’t constantly be threatened or snatched away. Future generations need the knowledge and tools vital to making democracy work. In the past year since I became a member, I feel I’ve become much more engaged in the process and I’m continuing to learn something new each day. I will have plenty to share with my children and future generations!

Joyce: A world where giving back to your community isn’t applauded because it’s special, but because it’s the norm! A world where diversity goes unnoticed, because it “just-is.”

Caela: A world that has moved beyond climate denial into a firm belief that sustaining the biodiversity of our planet is a must. I pray that future generations see the importance of voting and supporting their local communities, and that they get deeply involved in their careers making the world a better place. WE are all responsible for the world we live in and can take effective action to bring our country and our world to the value of community and taking care of others. We all are responsible for maintaining a strong and healthy democracy.

Penny: There are several activities that the League performs that I believe will help with our future generations. However, there is one activity that I feel will have one of the greatest effect on our country – civic education. I would like to pass on the kind of country where future generations continually build on their basic civic knowledge and understand their role as active citizens. The United States political system is what makes this country operate. Most every aspect of what we do or how we live is wrapped up in politics. We cannot escape it. We as community advocates need to continue to educate our future generation about the importance of civic education and engagement. When we make our children aware, they will be inspired to be active in U.S. democracy and hence make living in the U.S. a momentous experience for them.

What is Your Most Memorable Mother’s Day?

Chanelle: Mother’s Day 2010, I was very pregnant with our third child. While enjoying a family brunch, I began to cry because seated at the table with me was my 99-year-old grandmother, my mother, my mother-in-law, my sisters, my daughter and my nieces. It was a very special moment for me to be surrounded by all the beautiful women and girls in my family.

Penny: My most memorable Mother’s Day was a few years ago when all my sisters wanted to show our mother and grandmother how much we appreciate them both. We decided that we would take them out for a lovely dinner and celebrate at a fancy restaurant. We were discussing amongst us memories of the savory food and the atmosphere of the restaurant. We knew it would be a special surprise because they both like the food. Needless to say, all twenty something of us got to the restaurant with our mouths watering and waiting to eat our fancy Mother’s Day feast. What a surprise we received. The restaurant was closed. It certainly was a surprise. There was no time for anyone to cook and most of the restaurants we called had long lines and about two hours waiting time. Our stomachs were rumbling. Men, women, and children, we were all hungry. We had to regroup quickly and decide what we wanted to do and where to go to eat. We finally decided that we would go to a sports and burger bar that was near to the closed restaurant. Can you imagine Mom and Grandma at a sports bar? We were hesitant at first but they were fine with going there to eat. We had an awesome time. I ate one of the best burgers ever!!!

Joyce: It has to be the year my children pitched in and got me a leaf blower. One of my passions is gardening and working in the yard. I had dropped numerous hints about wanting a leaf blower, but had just about given up. They must have been paying attention. It’s one of the best gifts I have ever received.

Caela: I had a surprise lunch with my three daughters and two young women who feel like my daughters at our favorite restaurant in downtown D.C. It was the first time we’d all been together in several years so we spent the afternoon eating our favorite foods and reminiscing with flowers all around us and joyful, funny memories.