lunch for the girls + one important guy

Today I had the opportunity to get out of the school building and go to “Lunch For the Girls”! This is an annual fundraiser for Girls, Inc., a nonprofit tutoring and enrichment program that helps girls to become “strong, smart, and bold.” I love the concept of “strong, smart, and bold,” as I get sick of girls having to be nice and pretty and kind. In my own life, strong smart and bold have probably gotten me further along, while nice and kind have gotten me into too many difficult situations. I usually have to fall back on smart strong and bold to get out of those situations.

Those of us in the education world are used to bolting our lunches down in 26 minutes (no more, sometimes less). So we become extremely excited at the opportunity to leave school and go out to lunch. Seriously, on teacher work days we spend much of our time texting one another to figure out where to eat lunch (unless we have decided our lunch spot weeks in advance, which has been known to happen). So when my principal asked if I wanted to take a group of girls to this luncheon, I said a quick yes, grabbed the invitation, and scurried off to my office to figure out which young ladies I would ask to go with me. It’s always fun to get to spend some time with kids when we are just hanging out instead of solving a problem, doing a project, or working on something school-related. I took a group of girls I have worked with a little bit but wanted to get to know better. Most of them were seniors, with a few underclassmen.

Part of our lunchtime conversation was learning about the concept of fundraiser/benefit events. It was a little tough for these hungry young ladies to figure out why our principal had paid $100 a plate for us to eat chicken salad, but after hearing from some of the young women who had been influenced by their time with Girls, Inc., I think they understood why the main focus was on getting the most money we could to this awesome organization.

After our salads had been downed, we were all served Dilly Bars. Kind of a funny dessert for a luncheon, but more fitting when you know that the keynote speaker of the event was Berkshire Hathaway CEO and hometown hero Warren Buffett. It might have had a little something to do with the fact that his daughter Susie is on the Girls, Inc. board. To add a little lady-oriented element to it, or maybe to do something different from the standard podium speech format, they had CNBC’s Becky Quick prompt Warren (yep, that’s what we call him here in his ‘hood) with questions from some of the donors and girls.

Since there is an economics component to the Girls, Inc. curriculum, many of the Q&A questions focused on economics, success, and education. Some of Warren’s key points:

  • Small businesses are the key to bringing back the U.S. economy. Especially ones who treat their customers well.
  • The U.S. and global economies will come back. Maybe not right away but they will.
  • President Obama is doing a good job despite obstacles and Warren is planning to vote for him again.
  • Every person deserves to start out at the same starting line, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender, or anything else.
  • Communication skills are more important than math skills. Two of my girls who are currently taking AP Calculus had looks of joy on their face as he said that one. I am 99% sure they raced back to school and told their teachers that little ditty immediately.
  • Distribution of wealth in the U.S. is f’ed up. There is too much disparity. Our tax laws are partially to blame for this.

This last point is something I hope to explore in this blog. It’s something I’m constantly thinking about. It’s hard for me to express my thoughts on the matter clearly in words, as evidenced by a recent frustrating conversation with my family during which I failed to get my points across no matter how I tried to rephrase myself. Maybe that’s why I’m starting this blog and using primarily photographs. I hope my photographic entries will be thought-provoking and will explore some of the same concepts that Warren mentioned.

For the record, it turns out that 15- to- 18-year-old girls like Warren Buffett a lot because:

  • He is lively and energetic.
  • He “isn’t boring or senile like most 80-year-olds are.”
  • He told them who he is voting for. Apparently they don’t like it when adults tell them that this is a private piece of information.
  • He is smart, well-read, and opinionated.
  • He really listened to the questions that were asked and answered them clearly.

If you had asked me beforehand I might have assumed that they would be more excited about the Dilly bars than hearing from a guy older than their great-grandpas, but they were truly interested in what he had to say, and were babbling with excitement about his speech as we left. Some Dilly bars were left behind uneaten. Thanks, Girls Inc!

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