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Lauren Casteel "Sharing What Is Ours" Speech

Sharing What Is Ours

// November 20, 2018

This Orange is Ours

WFCO President & CEO Lauren Y. Casteel delivered this speech at the 2018 Annual Luncheon. We thought it especially appropriate to share during this week of community, sharing, and gratitude.

We are grateful to be with you today and every day. You heard from Athena, our 2018 Dottie Lamm Award Winner, that her communities’ sharing their time, resources, and unconditional love, was the recipe for her resilience.

Recently, my appreciation of community and the power of sharing was expanded by the book “The Girl Who Smiled Beads” by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil. It’s a story of a girl who – starting at age six, with only her 15-year-old sister to protect her – walked seven years across seven countries – to flee the genocide in Rwanda.

Slices of hope, slices of opportunity

Incredibly, in the midst of horrors most of us consider unimaginable, she carried this memory of her mother:

“Go get an orange,” her mother would say at the end of a meal, and then she’d cut the orange into pieces and watch. They had trees full of oranges in the garden and could each have their own orange. But, if her mother didn’t cut that one orange into enough pieces for everyone to share…it was cut into even more…

The girl said, “We were never to think, this orange is mine. I’m giving you what is mine. We were to think this orange is ours. We are sharing what is ours.”

We were never to think, this orange is mine. I’m giving you what is mine. We were to think this orange is ours. We are sharing what is ours.

I believe this mother, like so many of our own mothers, was instilling the universal value of sharing in her daughter, who ultimately arrived in America where generosity of community and spirit reset her course onto a path of fulfilled potential and paying forward.

The pillars of community, philanthropy, and impact of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado are not just symbols, they are the sweet orange slices that are ours to share. Slices of hope. Slices of opportunity. Slices of promise that will fulfill our shared mission of a future where women of every background and identity, within every family of any fabulous form, can thrive.

None of us make it alone

You might ask… what do oranges have to do with me?

You may think the stories of this girl, and Athena, are dramatically different than your own.

However, when we risk sharing our authentic stories, we discover there are also undeniable commonalities. And, if we are honest, the stories you’ve heard today in some way reflect you, your families, or communities.

Stories of success, of overcoming, of hurt, and healing, of grit and reconciliation. From foster care to Fortune 500.

There is one truth that aligns us all: None of us make it alone.

Together, with you, WFCO opens wider doors of access and opportunity, propelling women and families in Colorado toward stability today and security for the future.

  • Women such as Francesca, whose story you will see in a moment, are making dreams real and inspiring the next generation.
  • Women who are healthier, happier, and more productive because they can tuck-in their kids at night with a story and healthy snack. Instead of leaving for their second job – they can sleep in peace.
  • Women, who by receiving training or degrees to enter the skilled workforce in high-growth, high-yield careers, elevate their families and our collective future
  • Women who will enrich our lives, and have the resources they need to teach our children, and care for our aging parents.

Sharing what is ours to grow an orchard of opportunity

Just as all of our lives are inextricably intertwined, so are The Women’s Foundation’s pillars of community, philanthropy, and impact. They don’t exist alone.

Look around… Our community is diverse, inclusive, and dedicated to the belief that women should thrive with safety and respect. Together, our philanthropy is heartfelt and strategic to ensure our impact resets courses onto paths of potential and paying forward.

Are we still living the values our mothers taught us? Are we sharing?

The girl said, “We were never to think, this orange is mine. I’m giving you what is mine. We were to think this orange is ours. We are sharing what is ours.”

You can help us grow an orchard of opportunity for Colorado women and their families… together we all rise.

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