Dedicated to Sharon Radar
By Mary Gardner-Ruch
March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global holiday celebrated each year to bring attention to the rights of women and awareness of violence against women and inequality. I think it is a perfect time to focus on and celebrate the friendship between women.
Research shows that close female friendships are more important for women than for men. Even though men and women do support each other, women thrive on strong relationships with their girlfriends. Such friendships give women an outlet to share problems, thoughts, feelings, and triumphs and offer an emotional support system. Girlfriends help keep us sane in times of stress and as we age. They become a safety net to fall into when we need one.
I received sad news from a friend who found out that she only has a few weeks left to live. Her medical complications came on fast and after numerous trips to the ER, being transferred to another hospital, and numerous interventions, her diagnosis was terminal. This fortunate lady had fostered her female relationships and they had been a place of comfort and fun for her over the years. When Hospice care could not provide the aide service needed for her to go home, her best friend rolled up her sleeves and became a caregiver. She recruited others and kept their circle of friends updated as things progressed. This is the kind of love that women provide to each other through the bonds of friendship.
This caring often extends to others in the community or in the world at large. Women come together to bring meals, lend a hand, help a family in need, bake to raise needed funds, watch each other kids, or sit with an aging parent. Often in these circles of friendship, there is a deeper sharing that takes place. Burdens are shared, joys are shared, outings are planned, and lots of laughter comes from shared memories.
As we approach International Women’s Day, perhaps you might like to gather your friends together just to celebrate the special bond that you share. If you are a male, you may want to acknowledge the special women in your life and thank them for the love and care they have given you. If you want to do more than that for women who are born into poverty, abuse, neglect, or have found themselves in abusive situations, there are many wonderful programs that can use your support.
Check out https://mariposadrfoundation.org/. Sherry Herdman, former Nurse Practioner at Jones Memorial Hospital, is very active in helping these girls. ACCORD Corporation in Belmont supports women who are escaping from Domestic Violence and can be reached at 585-268-7605. You can call NYConnects to find services throughout Allegany County that help women with everything from job training, financial support, housing, child care, and more by calling 585-268-9390. They are housed in the Allegany County Office for the Aging.