Like many Americans feeling a sense of unknown—I’ll just say it, despair—following the election, a group of six moms in Bloomington, Indiana, decided to do more than just talk (ok, cry) to each other. We needed to do something. Our goal was simple: outreach. Why? To say loud and clear that we do not support the instances of swastikas spray-painted on public trails, the sudden rise in occurrences of shouts of racial epithets, and other messages of unwelcome. We will not let this behavior define our community. We decided to rage against it with messages of welcome, love, and community-building.
This sounds lofty, doesn’t it? The truth is, it was that simple. We created a name, Bloomington Moms United, and dove headfirst in to an inaugural initiative. In two weeks, our voices were heard. Our little engine of six committed women prove to have some serious horsepower. Our commitment sprouted into 40 hot chocolate stands hosted in our local community and roughly 15 more in three other states. We raised approximately $4,000. The vast majority of funds went to Monroe County United Ministries in Bloomington. Funds raised in other states went to local causes.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, what does hot chocolate have to do with driving out hate messages? That’s a fair query. But, again, simple: at our hot chocolate stands, all were welcome. It was a coming together to host, to be a hot chocolate patron, and enjoy. Neighbors came outside in the cold. Co-workers visited different neighborhoods meeting others. Connections were made. And everyone knew the underlying aim—as people, united we are stronger.
Of course, as mothers, we were also teaching our children about service. Serving hot chocolate in the cold. And donating the proceeds of their service to a community organization that serves those in need.
The other key message was to our neighbors, friends, children, co-workers, families and community members: we must love and serve each other and that means strangers, too. These strangers could be people with whom we may vehemently disagree politically, socially, or simply with their life choices. We must love one another enough to serve. This is how we all heal—as individuals, communities, and a society.
The six of us behind Bloomington Moms United don’t have any delusions of grandeur. Hot chocolate stand hosting does not make a hero. But we are women who saw that doing something, starting somewhere, was better than stagnation. And we don’t intend to stop here. We are talking with local community, government, and nonprofit leaders, researching NGO’s, and considering our next steps.
While not a single one of us was excited to learn that Donald Trump is our president-elect, we owe him one thing now. He brought us together. His words of division united us and ignited what we hope to be an ongoing community action group. You can do the same.
Get together. Set a goal and start moving or join Bloomington Moms United and help us do the same. The white supremacists are feeling empowered by rhetoric from our president-elect, as are others who may be afraid of those who are different or less fortunate. Those who disagree with these fear-filled ideologies need to see that we can be empowered too.
Rise up with compassion, love, acceptance, and conversation. Then act. Coming together, even in small ways, can convey a big message. We want these messages to be heard—and louder than any messages of hate.
Bloomington Moms United is a group of women leading community initiatives that encourage justice, empathy and inclusion now.
Photo Credit: Fred H. Cate
Author: Bethan W. Roberts
Author Bio: Bethan Roberts is a mother of three budding members of the next generation. She works full-time outside the home in higher education, is married, and fancies herself a writer, among other things. As one of six co-founders of Bloomington Moms United, she and her co-founders are deeply committed to encouraging unity, understanding and compassion in a time of widespread division.
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