85 years old, and just getting started
I’m 85 years old, and I became an advocate for the first time last year. Some people say I’m too old to make an impact, and I should just focus on myself. But I have so many stories and experiences to share. I believe you’re never too old to learn and create change.
I know what hunger is all about. When I was a young child growing up in Pennsylvania, I remember wanting food that wasn’t there. My parents thought I was acting up, but I was just hungry. To this day, I have health issues due to that period of hunger. I also remember how my own children went hungry at times and had to go to neighbors’ homes to ask for bread.
Now I have a real passion for taking action to change this for children around the world. When I heard about RESULTS’ work on child nutrition, I wanted to just cry. I was so excited to find an organization making a real impact on this issue, as well as housing, health care, and more.
When I was 14 years old, I had tuberculosis (TB). I only weighed 70 lbs., and I spent 15 months in a TB hospital. I could only have visitors once a week. Tuberculosis is painful in your body, and it’s painful in your heart because you’re often cut off from the rest of world. I felt weak and dizzy, and I lost a lot of weight. TB is not just painful, it’s also very dangerous. Sometimes people don’t even know they have it. There are so many hidden cases – my mother had it for two years and we didn’t know. It’s important to look at diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB, and push to end them.
Now I’m an advocate, and I had my first meeting with a congressional office recently. I told my story, and our group asked for support from our member of Congress for the Child Tax Credit, child nutrition, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Later, the staffers in the meeting said that they really appreciated what I shared. I wasn’t sure if I’d made a difference in the meeting, so I was so pleased.
I’m also really proud that I recently published my first letter to the editor! In the letter, I say: “Investing in our children is an investment in our community and future — there is no more important issue than this.” I believe that with all my heart.
Everyone should be asking themselves how they can take action, no matter their age. What is each of us going to do to change the world? Anyone can take that step to making a difference.