I look forward to being part of the solution

I found out last week that you really can pull the wool over my eyes.

We can thank the wiley Bill Shea, The Messenger’s city editor, and the ever-positive Terry Christensen, The Messenger’s publisher, for this learning experience.

They had been slinking around here for months knowing that, with their impetus, I had been selected for an Iowa Women’s Foundation Ovation honor, amongst other women in Fort Dodge.

Trouble was, the ceremony was on a Wednesday evening and anyone who knows my schedule knows that Wednesday evening is just about the worst time of the week to interrupt me. Ask the members of the D/SAOC board. While my dedication to it is firm, my attendance record is sporadic because we meet on Wednesday evenings.

So Shea, whom we’ve taken to calling “The Pillar” in the newsroom, had the unenviable task of figuring out how to get the seat of my pants off the seat of my chair for the occasion.

“There’s an IWF thing on Wednesday next week that you may want to cover,” he suggested a week ahead of the event.

I looked at him like he was crazed. “Why?”

“Oh, I just thought because you have been involved and written about their work you might find it interesting.”

I probably frowned, but wrote it on my calendar.

Then, a few days later they apparently decided to consult my friend and colleague Anne Blankenship, who is the managing editor of our sister paper, the Daily Freeman-Journal. She recommended telling me ahead of time for a panopoly of sound reasons.

What a wonderful almost-surprise.

I got to stand with these admirable women: Amy Bruno, program coordinator with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way: Karen Alstott, president and co-owner of C & S Products Co. Inc.; Lisa Shimkat, state director of the Iowa Small Business Development Center; and Sheila Hansen, policy director of the Child and Family Policy Center where she works as a lobbyist in Des Moines.

Congratulations to them all.

In case you don’t know, the IWF last year worked throughout Iowa to uncover the obstacles to women’s success in target cities. Fort Dodge was one of them.

It learned that there’s a need for an astonishing 1,638 child care spaces in this city.

That means that parents, and in a majority of instances these are the maternal parent, cannot find child care. And if you can’t find child care, folks, you can’t work a job.

So those child care spaces act as an impediment to employment in a state in which 70 percent of female-headed households struggle for economic security, according to the IWF in a 2017 report.

Did you know that, in 2015, 40 percent of Iowa’s women were living in poverty? That’s according to the State Data Center and the Office on the Status of Women.

And let me hammer you with another ah-ha stat: In the IWF’s 2015 report “She Matters: 2015 Issues and Actions,” it reported: “Iowa women earn 77 percent of what men earn when all other factors are equal. Iowa women lose more than $4.6 billion annually due to this wage gap.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to elevate women to a stable status in this wonderful state.

And you’d be wrong if you thought I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I have lived in poverty and I know how it can beat you down.

I suppose that makes this honor so much sweeter, that someone who could hit bottom in multiple ways could be given a chance to promote positive change.

So thank you for the honor.

Everyone.

That includes the wiley Bill “The Pillar” Shea and the ever-positive Terry Christensen.

I look forward to being part of the solution.

Jane Curtis is editor of The Messenger.

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