Catholic Charities of Boston Celebrates Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month: a month dedicated to studying, recognizing, and celebrating women's contributions to history.

In honor of Women's History Month, we asked our colleagues to share women who inspire them in their daily lives.

Malala Yousafzai:

Yuri Sanchez-Rijo on our Basic Needs team finds inspiration from Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani human rights activist. Today, Malala is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Despite an assassination attempt, she continued her work as an education activist, believing that everyone deserves access to an education, regardless of their background. Malala graduated from the University of Oxford in 2020.

Yuri shares, "Malala is young but will forever live in history books as an inspiration to all females who have obstacles preventing their success. She teaches us that we're not alone, and together we have the power to overcome anything."



Mother Teresa:

Monica and Kim, two staff members at Brigid's Crossing Shelter for Young Mothers, are inspired by Mother Teresa's words and actions. They identify with her work with those less fortunate in our communities.

Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun and missionary, lived most of her life in India. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which manages homes for people living with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, runs soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, child and family counseling programs, as well as orphanages and schools. In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Their favorite Mother Teresa quotes that they apply to their own lives and work are:

Monica: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

Kim: "If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one."


Gloria Steinem

Fran Troutman, director of Catholic Charities' North division, believes that there is no better representation of Women's History Month than political activist and feminist journalist Gloria Steinem.

She gained national recognition in the 1960s for her work with the feminist movement and founded organizations to support women seeking professional and political opportunities. Steinem continues to support women as a spokesperson for issues around equality.

A favorite quote of Steinem's that inspires Fran is: "Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.



Amanda Gorman

Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer Kelley Tuthill is inspired by Amanda Gorman, sharing, "As the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, she serves as a bridge inviting connections across racial, ethnic, gender and generational divides."

At 22, she is the sixth and youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration, reading "The Hill We Climb" at President Joe Biden's inaugural ceremony in January 2021.

She has won several awards for her writing and is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University. Through her writing, Gorman inspires women across the country to be the light they wish to see in the world.



Maya Angelou

Sandra Bispham Parkins, CCAB's senior family child care director, and Alicia Asnault, one of our Malden Child Care teachers, share that they are both inspired by poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

Angelou published many works, including seven autobiographies, and was very active in the civil rights movement, working with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She often lectured about her life experiences and continued to do so well into her eighties. She recited "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration.

Sandra continues to be motivated by Angelou's example and her quote, "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Alicia notes that, "She gave women, especially black women, hope that their voices can be heard. Her writing is so important in American history - she was not afraid to have her voice as a woman be heard."



Eleanor Roosevelt

CCAB’s Director of Child Care Janet MacDougall finds inspiration in Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving First Lady of the United States and a political activist.

Roosevelt delivered speeches and made campaign appearances in her husband's absence. She was a strong advocate for political issues, including expanding roles for women in the workplace and the civil rights for African Americans and Asian Americans. When the United States joined the United Nations, she was our country's first delegate.

Janet shares that she is inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt because, "She frequently spoke out in favor of women's rights, children's issues, and helping the poor in combating racial discrimination...all while helping to raise six children!"



Susan B. Anthony

Michelle Cunningham, one of CCAB's Child Care teachers in Malden, finds inspiration to vote from civil rights activist Susan B. Anthony, an instrumental figure in the women's suffrage movement. Michelle's grandmother instilled in her that it's a privilege to vote and have our voices heard. She shares, "My Nanie would take me to the local polling site each Election Day as a reminder that she didn't have this right growing up. She also gave me Susan B. Anthony coins to honor the woman who made it all possible."

In 1872, Anthony was arrested in her hometown for voting and was convicted. She refused to pay the fine, and authorities took no further action against her. Six years later, she presented Congress with what would become the 19th Amendment, making it illegal to deny women the right to vote. She later became the first female citizen to appear on a US coin - the 1979 dollar coin.  



Rosa Parks

Regina Jenkins, a CCAB assistant child care teacher, is inspired by Rosa Parks, an American activist most known for refusing to give up her seat in the Montgomery Bus Boycott who became an icon in the fight against segregation. Parks received many awards and recognitions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

 Regina shares that she admires Parks' bravery to do the right thing and finds particular inspiration from the quote, "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear."



Kathrine Switzer

Tess Ferguson, assistant director of CCAB’s Malden child care, shares that she finds inspiration from American marathon runner and author, Kathrine Switzer, who was the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon as a registered runner. Others attempted to prevent her from running during the race by taking her bib number or knocking her down. As a result, the Amateur Athletic Union banned women from competing against men in races. Because of Switzer's actions, the Boston Marathon established an official women's race in 1972.    

Tess shares that Switzer’s quote,”Talent is everywhere, it only needs the opportunity," motivates her daily.