Over the previous week, Iâve met with a few nonprofit folks, learning from them and growing my understanding of what it means to more fully develop the Women With Drive Foundation. During one illuminating conversation with co-founder of 501 Mission Place, Estrella Rosenberg (@charityestrella on twitter), we discussed the concept of nonprofits as people – that is to say, how people associate the leadership of nonprofits as the drivers of the foundation. We went on to talk about how people wished to connect with the story of the foundation – the whys and the hows of its formation, mission and works.
Since then, I have thought a lot about what she had to say.
Come to center: It may seem laughable, considering that I have a digital footprint in several social media platforms, but Iâm actually a pretty private person. However, in order to give my work real heft, âstreet credâ and authenticity, I feel that explaining the genesis and evolution of the Women With Drive Foundation may underscore its importance, not only for me but the women whose lives we touch.
“There is no real security except for whatever you build inside yourself.” â Gilda Radner
I first read this quote in 1996. It was the point at which I could actually understand it. For much of my life, I transferred ownership of my independence and security to others: boyfriends, spouses, bosses…anyone but the person upon whom the responsibility rested (me). When I read this quote, I had been divorced for a few years and Gildaâs words galvanized me into action and henceforth accepting responsibility for my own choices. But Iâm getting ahead of myself…
I married a man because he asked me to.
I was very young, already mother to a toddler and felt as though I was âused goods.â No man would want me, and so when someone asked me to marry him, I thought that I had better say yes before he changed his mind. During the marriage ceremony, my soul gave one last ditch effort, hurling the equivalent of a mental âHail Mary Passâ across my brain, shrieking, âWhat are you doing?!â
My answer to myself, âEverythingâs paid for.â (meaning the reception)
Everything is paid for. Iâll say it was. I paid, and I paid again. It took seven years of my life to pay myself the interest on that decision. During those seven years, I had to face myself, do an assessment of where I was developmentally against what I was capable of achieving, and then take steps each day toward reaching my goals. Along the way, I had teachers and support helping me to develop skills and strengths, but ultimately, it was up to me to choose better for myself.
Women With Drive Foundation is the extension of my personal journey. I know what itâs like to be scared. I know what itâs like to feel that gnawing sense that youâre missing the mark – that youâre meant for greater things. And I also know that emancipating thrill of knowing that youâre where youâre meant to be.
You cannot borrow security. You must invest in yourself.
Our foundation gives a woman a car for two years in exchange for her participation in various assessments and programs that help her to identify her particular barriers to independence. Once determined, a plan is put into place to address them. She is a partner in her development and held accountable to meeting her end of the bargain. In my research prior to establishing the Women With Drive Foundation, I found many wonderful organizations nationwide that help women with developing many skills, but few who actually gave a woman a vehicle to facilitate this very necessary component of independence. There were none who incorporated the two-year developmental journey alongside the distribution of a car.
The car is the physical manifestation of her internal transformation.
The car is the sizzle. The real âproductâ is the change that happens within the woman who completes the two year process of facing herself, choosing to develop that which she needs to empower and free herself. Through the Women With Drive Foundation, I hope to systemically and organically empower women – to give them the tools to help themselves. In so doing, it is my wish that we elevate the Whole: her family, her children, her community.
Freedom isn’t free. Independence requires sacrifice, honesty and hard work. But that doesn’t mean we don’t all need help along the way. Iâve devoted my future to seeing the goals of the Women With Drive Foundation come to fruition. Thanks for listening to me share my story today.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish the Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through the Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter asÂ @mckra1g orÂ @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation)