Eli is a guest writer for Philanthropy Files for the month of January. They are the Data Specialist in the Philanthropy Department, and are currently working on obtaining a Master’s in History.
Mark Twain is attributed with saying, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Historians analyze the patterns and anomalies in history in order to understand our present and future, and for many, in order to create a better world and future. Every New Year there is a push for us to start anew, but studying history has taught me that starting completely fresh isn’t always what is best for us. Although it is important to be mindful that for some it is exactly what they need however. In my personal life, once the New Year starts I push myself to be absolutely perfect, when I fail or mess up for the first time I throw my resolutions into the proverbial trash can. This year, instead of not giving up, I plan look at the patterns in my failures, and work to change what is creating those patterns. Patterns exist because ideas and norms are deeply ingrained, and it takes work to change them. We can use our understanding of those patterns to create positive change.
I feel that WCA volunteers and donors are living examples of this attitude of mindfully examining patterns that need to change. They understand the history of abuse and sexual assault in our country and community, and say, “We have to, and WILL, change this pattern of abuse.” Volunteers and donors put in astounding amounts of time, treasure, and talent into the WCA to ensure that our clients and community have the support needed to live the lives that are the best for them. Volunteers and donors invest so much into the WCA because throughout our 100+ year history we’ve shown a consistent pattern of supporting women, and expanding our services to all who need them.
My focuses in history are disease and gender/sexuality in early-modern Europe. These fields on their own can be very mentally taxing, but I always think back to what one of my professors said, “History is the study of resilience.” I have the honor of researching people who fought for their communities, loved ones, and themselves. I get to learn about people who worked to make the world a place where people are free to be themselves, to have healthy lives and relationships, and are able to heal. I get to witness what is essentially the WCA’s history in action, but echoed throughout the past: Safety, healing, and freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault. While working at the WCA, I have witnessed first-hand the same resilience I study in coworkers, volunteers, donors, and clients. Our volunteers and donors create hope by showing that patterns can be changed, and that positive change is possible.
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