Many of our original members will remember Graham. When Kathy Grand and I first started the Oceanside group, Graham came several times to help out. He will be missed. We wish him all the very best.
Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers,
We have some news to share from the Grandmothers Campaign. Below please see notes from Graham followed by Ilana. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with us.
Dearest Grandmothers and Grandothers,
In my twelve years at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, I have started countless Granny Bulletins, letters and emails to you in the same fashion, Dearest Grandmothers and Grandothers. Each time, I hoped that every word I wrote, no matter what the topic, conveyed to you the Foundation’s deepest respect, enthusiasm, gratitude, solidarity, admiration, and commitment to your efforts.
Today, I am writing to you with some personal news. I have made the difficult decision to leave the Foundation. I’m confident it’s the right one, but as you can imagine, far from easy. Happily, it is “only” difficult because of the joys of working to support the brilliant efforts of our partners in Africa; of working in a principled, inclusive, feminist organization alongside exceptional colleagues; and of walking alongside all of you as you show the world that meaningful solidarity with African grandmothers and communities is not only possible, but essential and a matter of global urgency.
I considered composing this note as my Ode to Grandmothers, but I know myself well enough to recognize that my ode could surely turn into a grand opus. If you’ll indulge me then, I’d like to say only a few more words about the Campaign and our shared dedication to African grandmothers, from a personal perspective. I’ll try not to get too maudlin!
Over the years, I have had the great privilege of working directly with many of you – meeting either in person, or over the telephone (thanks to those in Australia and the UK who took calls at every hour of the night!). I’ve traveled to groups in nearly every city, town, and four corners in Canada to meet with you, attend your wildly successful events, and in many cases, accept the offer of a bed and your warm hospitality for a night. Those visits were highlights of my time at the Foundation, and many of my most vivid memories feature coffee and kitchen tables. I hope that through our conversations, you had your most pressing questions answered and felt closer to the Foundation and the work we share.
You told me so many stories and I took each as a life lesson: your connection to African grandmothers because you just could not imagine looking after your own beloved grandchildren, full-time and with few resources. Your commitment to feminism, your communities, your churches and mosques and synagogues, and a host of other shared and unique passions. Your, often unexpected, new friendships and caring for one another, sometimes in your hardest moments. And of course, your joy at disrupting stereotypes about older women!
For every event, every husband or partner who “volunteered” to move boxes and tables, every cook and crafter and speaker, every flash mob, Stride and Ride, and every role you played in your group or region, THANK YOU. Thank you for the calls and emails and meaningful conversations, and the incredible example you set. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your movement.
Sometimes, in speaking at your events (with a little hesitation at sounding inauthentic – but not enough to stop me!), I have suggested that the Grandmothers Campaign has some kind of magic in it. I think now that the magic I always referred to is more easily explained than I thought. And it can be captured by one of the original inspirations for the Campaign, although I have changed one word:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed WOMEN can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
I will always support and champion your efforts. This movement, your movement, is strong and dynamic. And it is not so small anymore.
Warmest as always,
I am writing today, because I wanted to send something out with Graham’s announcement, that shared what I am sure are your best best best wishes, and deep appreciation for all that Graham has contributed to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, and to the SLF as a whole, over many dedicated, loving, expansive and meaningful years of work with us. It is always hard when someone so deeply tied to our community and to the cause moves on… but it is also a moment to celebrate the outstanding contribution Graham has made over 12 years… 12 years!! – to honour his devotion to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, to each and every group, to the growth of the Campaign and to the African grandmothers themselves.
I know you will all join me in giving Graham much love and well wishes to warm and support him as he moves on to the next chapter of his professional life. I know that Graham and I both feel reassured by the fact that the team is being led by Sarah Dopp, who is just stupendous, and sustained by the whole excellent team…. Megan and Asmita, Elizabeth working on Stride and Lara, and soon we will have another Grandmothers Campaign liaison to join the team in support of your critical and ongoing endeavours!
We are all united by the importance of this work, and I know Graham will continue to find ways to stand with all of us in solidarity, because as Graham has always said, this social justice struggle is not something that one leaves behind. I very much look forward to what comes next for Graham and his beautiful family!