While I have for the most part had a blessed life. I don’t mean that I didn’t grow up in poverty, that I didn’t face racism or sexism or that I did not experience bad breaks in life. I’ve experienced all of those things, but I was never bogged down in ungratefulness.
As a matter of fact, no matter how little I’ve ever had, I’ve felt a need to share what I had with someone who may have had less. I’ve never asked to be served by others, but I’ve felt compelled to be of service to anyone who needed my help.
I’ve often given my best and my last to help others. I’ve always been energetic, willing to study many things so that I could qualify to help more people even when some didn’t show that they were grateful for the help I often gave. I know that I’m by no means the perfect servant. Others have given far more than I have, but I’m pretty satisfied that I’ve given my best whenever someone needed my help.
Sometimes I gave family help, church help, organizational help, financial help, living space help, counseling help, legal help, advisory help, clothing help, help with food, help with advice, you name it. I was always grateful that I had the ability to help.
Sometimes people said thank you. Sometimes they didn’t, but even when they didn’t and came for my help again, I’ve tried to be there. However, recently the time came that I began to feel totally worn out, realizing that I was helping everyone I could, while not always helping myself. An elderly neighbor once said to me, “Be grateful that you’re the one giving the help rather than always needing the help.” I think that’s good advice, but sometimes you just feel that you need someone to give you some of those things you’ve so often given to others — your time and attention.
Sometimes givers need help, but never ask. I’m taking it upon myself to speak for those who serve and never ask others to do for them. Givers rarely ask for anything from others, but it doesn’t mean the smallest gift of gratefulness does not lift the giver’s spirit. My spirits were lifted beyond measure when Hazel Trice Edney, president and CEO of Trice Edney Newswire, contacted several of us who write, publish and appear on radio or television to tell us we were being honored for our service with the Stateswomen of the Black Press Award.
I’m sure I speak for my sisters who received the award to say that we’re grateful and proud of the recognition of our efforts to plead our own cause day after day. We feel that it is our duty to do so.
The day after receiving that award, I received the Champions of Peace and Nonviolence Award from The National Women’s History Alliance. In a beautiful ceremony, I met two women who were in Iraq when I was there in an effort to prevent the first Gulf War. That was a pretty emotional meeting for which I’m grateful, and that taught me how soldiers who were in the same war must feel when they run into each other years later.
The Sunday following those two awards, I went to church not knowing they, too, had planned to recognize my work! I have just learned of three more awards coming soon, so I’m reenergized and grateful that much of my work has not gone unnoticed. I deeply appreciate all of the awards, and I am ready to go back to the drawing board to work just a bit harder to be of service to somebody in need!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.