Friday, December 14, 2012

We are better than this.

Dec. 13, 2012

"Anyone can become angry - that is easy.  But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right way, this is not easy."

After I picked my children up from school this afternoon even though it wasn't my turn to drive carpool, and I sent a message of condolence to the families and victims affected by the senseless violence in Connecticut through the "We are better than this" campaign, I read about common sense gun laws, and about ways we can take action to make a change.  I signed a petition to Congress to stop arming dangerous people.  I searched facebook and blogs and looking for comfort or calm or insight or community and don't think anyone could possibly write it better than Lisa Belkin in this Huff Post piece.  Please read it.

And then "[c]ry today. Comfort your kids. Curse, and pray. Then pick up the phone, a pen, a keyboard, or your checkbook and make your demands heard. All day and every day. But most especially today."

Zichrona L'vbracha.  May their memories be a blessing.
Shabbat Shalom,


Friday, December 7, 2012

Peace It On

December 7, 2012

Today's very short and way overdue entry is dedicated to a fabulous friend  who inspires me with her enthusiasm, success and generosity.  Please take a moment to watch the attached video and click here to sign the petition and Peace it On.

  More soon,


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dear women: Please vote!

November 3, 2012

I attended a dinner a few evenings ago to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Jewish Community Center of Denver.  At the dinner, the keynote speaker talked about other things happening in the world around the time the JCC opened its doors.  On the list - women "getting" the vote.  His choice of verbs was benign, of course, but humor me please for a moment as I clarify slightly on his behalf.  

The 1920 passage of the 19th amendment was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women.  While the movement began formally in 1848 at the world's first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, its spark was lit years earlier when two women - Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott - met at the World Anti-Slavery convention in London and got mutually pissed off when the convention refused to seat them and the other women delegates from America.  Click here to read more about how a social gathering (coffee chat at Starbucks, anyone?) between Stanton, Mott, Martha C. Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt led to the first major push for legal equality for women in our country.    

We women fought hard for, and won that vote. 
Back to today.  November 3, 2012.  Yesterday was the last day to cast an early vote in Colorado, and our country is just three days away from making a momentous decision.  According to the experts, women, especially independent suburban women, can play a critical role in determining who the next president of the United States will be.

What are you waiting for?  

Women now make up 51% of the U.S. population and we possess endless opportunities to determine the direction of our lives.  We have been voting for almost a hundred years, so it may be hard to believe but this Tuesday's election presents a critical choice.  We can choose a leader who will rewind the clock on our hard earned rights or one who will enable us to continue making the choices that are right for our country, our communities, our families and our lives.  

The pundits say that the 2012 presidential is a tight race, that a few votes could make a big difference.  You have the power to make the big difference.  Please exercise your right.  Make your choice.  Make it heard.  

It counts.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Granola bars, Goodwill & VAWA

October 30, 2012

Every weekday morning, as I exit I-25 on the way to drop my daughter Adina off at pre-school, she and I are struck by two things: 1) how absolutely gorgeous the view of the Rocky mountains is from that particular point on Hampden Road, and 2) how sad it is that some people don't have homes.  There is always someone waiting at the light at the end of the exit ramp, holding up a sign, asking us for help.

This morning, Adina and I decided to fill a bag with peanut butter and oatmeal raisin granola bars and give them out over the next week or so to whoever is waiting at that light in the mornings.  Truth: We'd bought 100 or whatever ridiculous amount Costco sells in one box, and it turns out, my kids only like (read: will eat) the chocolate chip ones.  Easiest form of sharing there is.  

(Another truth:  I learned this easy sharing trick from my husband, a man who always asks for his leftovers at a restaurant to be boxed up, and then promptly hands the box to the first homeless person he encounters on the street after the meal.) 

After I got my daughter settled at school, I drove east on Hampden a quarter of a mile to a Goodwill donation center and dropped off four bags filled with clothes that my children had outgrown and that I no longer wanted.  How do my donated items help the Denver community?  Well, they are put up for sale in the thrift store and converted into cash that funds the organization's overhead as well as job skills and job development programs.  "Goodwill Denver is dedicated to programs that benefit the local community by inspiring high schools students, helping people get off welfare and back into the workforce and offering work options for the disabled." 

Then, I came home and sat down at my computer.  Before getting to work, I took three minutes to send emails to my Congressman and Senators to tell them that I think The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is an election issue and must be passed by the end of 2012.  Click here to see the simple script provided for me by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women.  Here is where I found my representative's contact information, and here is how I reached my senators.    

And the subtitle to this blog entry is: "Two basically effortless do-gooding acts and I share my opinion.  Again."  

e-impact, easy as pie.  Or granola bars.  Happy Tuesday to you all.  And now, back to work ...


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bucket list: Political ad? - Check.

What else can I say?  Attached is one of the scariest and most meaningful things I have ever done.  Thank you for your support.


password: story

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Joining A Million Voices

October 15, 2012

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.              
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in a relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.  Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.  It can be economic actions or threats of action that influence another person.  Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.  It can happen to couples who are married, living together, or dating.  Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

The first Domestic Violence month was observed in October, 1987.  That same year, the first national toll-free hotline was established.  In 1989, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress.  Such legislation has passed every year since.  Click here to read President Obama's 2012 Proclamation for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The first federal legislation acknowledging domestic violence as a crime and providing federal resources to encourage community-coordinated responses to combating violence was passed in 1994.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created and supported comprehensive, effective and cost saving responses to the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  VAWA programs, administered by the Departments of Justice & Health and Human Services, dramatically changed federal, tribal, state and local responses to these crimes.  VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.  The current authorization expired in 2011.  

The fight against domestic violence has long been a cause that moves me.  I've served as a pro bono attorney to victims of domestic violence, counseled a variety of nonprofit organizations on effective communications strategies and public education efforts surrounding the issue, and taught a class to high schoolers about healthy relationships and dating abuse.     

My efforts for this week are modest.  With this blog post, I am joining the National Domestic Violence Hotline's One Million Voices Campaign.   

Imagine the sound of one million voices in unison making the same pledge to help end domestic violence. That’s the goal and you can help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline and campaign founding partner General Federation of Women’s Clubs, along with many individuals and organizations, are dedicated to signing up one million people who are willing to educate, inform, and raise awareness about the problem of domestic violence and the programs that can help.  Learn more.
On a local level, I donated to SafeHouse Denver.  Not money.  I just sent some stuff.  Some really humbling stuff.  SafeHouse posts a wish list on its web site of various items such as clothing, household items, cleaning supplies and toiletries that are needed by its clients at the SafeHouse shelter and Counseling & Advocacy Center.  To make it even easier to make an impact, SafeHouse has registered its wish list on amazon so all you have to do is shop, and the items get sent directly to those who need them.  Macaroni & cheese, socks, children's advil - things for which I routinely walk into Target and $100 later, don't think twice about as I put them away in my safe, loving home.   

Thanks for tuning in.


p.s. There are many organizations working to provide abused women with a secure place to live and to eliminate domestic violence.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Love is Respect
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Hope Line
CHANA (Baltimore, MD)
Shalom Bayit (Bay area)
InMotion  (New York)
Jewish Women International - Mothers Day Flower Project

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My name is Evelyn Becker & I approve this message.

October 9, 2012

I was interviewed Friday morning for a political advertisement for Planned Parenthood and the Colorado State Senate races.  About my decision to have an abortion.  I wanted to do the ad.  I was honored to do the ad.  I was scared out of my mind to do the ad.

My day started at, oh shit, is it really 3 a.m?  I tried to relax and go back to sleep.

"Do something every day that scares you."  "Do something every day that scares you."  I repeated my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote to myself a few times like a mantra.

Note to self: This is not a sleep-inducing mantra.  I was highly motivated and wide awake.

Thankfully, my parents were visiting so they got the kids out the door for school by 7:45 and I was able to release some cortisol with half an hour on the elliptical machine.  I ate a good breakfast and enjoyed a few minutes of calming quiet as I got myself as ready as possible to share the hardest decision of my life with the entire state of Colorado.

9:15 am:  The commercial crew showed up at my house.  The interviewer, Sarah Flowers, and her assistant Michelle from 76 Words.  The camera guy.  The sound guy.  And the make-up artist!  Didn't know I'd get a pro make-up job.  Well that's sorta fun.  I felt myself start to breathe.

I paced my living room as the crew arranged furniture.  Did camera checks.  Sound checks.   Set up the lights.  This was the real deal.

Finally, the interview began.  Sarah is a lovely human being and a savvy professional, and she guided me through the next forty-five minutes or so with grace and ease.  I told her my story.  (Please click here if you would like to read it.)  I read a few pre-scripted lines about a handful of extreme anti-choice candidates for Colorado state senate.

And just like that the gig was over.

Of course I will post the ad on this blog as soon as its cut!

In the meantime, I signed the Bill of Reproductive Rights.  The Bill of Reproductive Rights is an effort by the Center for Reproductive Rights to deliver a strong statement - backed by hundreds of thousands of signatures from concerned citizens - to the U.S. Congress and the President that they must guarantee and protect reproductive rights as fundamental human rights and stop the attacks by politicians who want to take those rights away.  


Monday, October 1, 2012

"It Takes One" - Getting Out The Vote

October 1, 2012

On Saturday afternoon, I canvassed for the Obama campaign.  Goal number one: register my targets to vote.  Goal number two: determine for whom they are planning to vote.  Goal number three: persuade them to vote for President Obama.  

This was the first time I'd ever gone door-to-door on behalf of a presidential candidate.  Despite years of comfort (as a PR pro) pitching to strangers on the phone, I was nervous to make the "cold call" in person.  I drove with a friend over to the home of the volunteer hosting the campaign organizer for the day's activities.  The organizer briefly explained the assignment and sent me off into my neighborhood.  

It was a clipboard, a few voter registration forms, a handful of pamphlets about Obama and the economy, women, etc. and me.

"Knock, knock."  Phew.  Not home.

Oh (door opens).  "Hi.  I'm Evelyn.  I'm your neighbor here in A-Lake and I'm out today making sure you are registered to vote ..."

A couple of more houses, and I was beginning to get my groove.  Then, the "I will definitely be canvassing again" moment: a great conversation with Rick, who told me that while he'd voted for Obama in '08, he was currently undecided.  Rick and I talked about his business and his concerns about the economy.  We chatted about the Republican's infuriating application of small government to taxes only; when it comes to what we do in our bedrooms and decide in our doctor's offices, they want to legislate, even amend the Constitution.  I left Rick with some campaign literature.  He left me with insight into the very real power of a one-on-one conversation in one neighborhood in one city to make a difference.  

If you think that your vote doesn't matter, please think again.  In a recent speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Michelle Obama drew comparisons between turning out the vote to the civil rights struggles of the past.  "Make no mistake about it, this is the march of our time," Obama said.  "Marching door-to-door registering people to vote, marching everyone you know to the polls every single election."  This, she said, "is the movement of our era - protecting that fundamental right, not just for this election but the next generation and generations to come."  


I enjoyed a couple more good chats on Saturday afternoon, and then, I got yelled at.  Scolded.  Chastised.  I had disturbed one (rather unfriendly) neighbor's peace by exercising my democratic rights.  

I'll be out canvassing again.
Please let me know if you would like to join me.  Please click here to learn more about the Obama campaign's voter turnout initiative - It Takes One.  And please vote.  


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lighting the Night for my village

September 28, 2012

Last night I participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk in beautiful Wash Park in Denver, Colorado.  Light the Night is a short, casual stroll that takes place every fall in cities across the United States and Canada and funds lifesaving research and support for people battling cancer.  Friends, families and co-workers form fundraising teams and millions of consumers help by donating at retail outlets.  At the walks, survivors carry white balloons.  Supporters carry red.  Those remembering lost ones carry gold.  All of the balloons are illuminated with a small flashlight, creating a powerful vision of community and "bringing light to the dark world of cancer."

I walked last night to support my friend Ben and his family.  Ben finished chemotherapy and radiation treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma two years ago. I have never seen Ben without a smile.  Never had a conversation with him that didn't leave me laughing.  Ben and his wife generously welcomed and supported me and my family when we moved to Colorado a little over a year ago.  They are kind, fun friends.  I walked for Ben and his wife, and for their two young children, who were not much older than my own (4 and 7) when their father contracted this frightening disease.

There are a lot of walks (and runs and bike rides and swims and ...) out there these days for a variety of causes.  Because they are so commonplace, you'd think they might lose their power.  Quite the opposite.  These opportunities to get physically active remain poignant opportunities for activism.  They raise money, boost community awareness, and enable us to experience those rare moments in our crazy, busy lives where we can connect and show each other how very much we care.


p.s. I also walked for the sweet little girl in my daughter's dance class who I learned this past Tuesday is finishing a round of chemotherapy for leukemia.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Eyes

e-impact, week of September 16-22 ...  

This afternoon I sent a pair of children's eyeglasses to NEW EYES.  New Eyes improves the vision of poor children and adults by purchasing new eyeglasses in the United States and recycling donated glasses for distribution in developing nations worldwide.  Since its founding in 1932, New Eyes has improved the eyesight of more than 7,500,000 people in the U.S. and around the world.   Each new pair of glasses provided by New Eyes "can help a child succeed in school, an adult secure a job, or a senior citizen read medicine labels and live more independently."    

I discovered New Eyes a few years ago when I was looking for something constructive to do with a pair of tiny pale pink wire frames belonging to my daughter, Adina.  Adina, now four and a half, got those pink eyeglasses, her first pair, when she was fifteen months old.  Adina was born with nystagmus, an involuntary eye movement disorder that results in reduced vision.  Adina's eyes constantly rotate back and forth, like a pendulum, and while the glasses do not cure her nystagmus, they do ensure that her vision is corrected to the maximum level possible.

There are many more pairs of glasses in Adina's future.  And each time she gets a new pair, I plan to send the old ones to New Eyes.  I am grateful to New Eyes for giving me and Adina a way to contribute to the improving the lives and visions of others.  And, rather big bonus I know, every time I put a pair of Adina's glasses in the mail, I get to think of Jake Gyllenhaal ...



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome to e-impact!

Welcome to e-impact!

What is e-impact?

e-impact is a way to make a difference in the world in one hour or less, without giving money.  Because there are so many opportunities to do this online, e-impact can be thought of as another way of saying "e-activism" or electronic or online do-gooding or advocacy.  e-impact is about effecting social change in a very brief amount of time, often without having to leave one's living room, office or Starbucks.

Who's behind e-impact?

"e" is also me.  Evelyn.  I'm President of Becker Impact, a boutique communications strategy firm for nonprofits based in Denver, Colorado.  I spend my days developing compelling messages and telling effective stories so nonprofit organizations can move public opinion and action, inspire donations and votes, and effect change.  I'm a mother to two fabulous children - ages 4 and 7 - and an active member of my community.  When I'm not working or volunteering, you can find me with my family hiking, biking or skiing in & around the Rocky Mountains.  Or blogging.  This is my new blog.  

How exactly will e-impact work? 

e-impact is a 355 day project.  It launches tomorrow, September 17, 2012, the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and ends on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, 2013 (September 5, 2013).  Every week for one (lunar) year, I am going to find something that I can do in an hour or less, online or in my community, to make a difference on an issue I care about.  Yes, this is trying to make the world a better place according to my particular world view.  

Why e-impact?

The 2012 presidential race recently pushed me to share a deeply personal story online and to issue a call to action to my friends and family.  Though I have written countless messages and stories for nonprofit organizations whose causes I believe in, I'd never shared or asked for anything so intimate.  I was deeply moved by the positive response to my story.  I thought about the power of words and about individual power.  I am honored that my story inspired others; their encouragement inspired e-impact.

Can I get involved?

I would love that!  As I write about my e-impact activities, I will include the links necessary for you to join in the fun.  I'd also really appreciate your suggestions for ways I can get e-active.  Please note, however, that I will be trying to make an impact in areas of personal importance.  This is also a self-issued writing challenge.  I hope that even if you do not share my interests or social or political concerns, you might enjoy reading along about my adventures.  Perhaps you will also see this blog as a place to add your comments on social change and share your own stories in trying to positively impact the world.

Warm wishes to you & yours for a happy & healthy new year.