Friday, June 15, 2007

CARE Kicks Off National Conference 2007

CARE Kicks Off National Conference 2007

Sen. Chuck Hagel leads the evening plenary session at CARE's National Conference 2007. (photo ©Lincoln Oviedo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 13, 2007) - CARE's National Conference 2007 began with a sense of excitement and purpose. Opening the event, CARE board member Monica Vachher stated simply and succinctly, "As an essential extension and integral part of CARE's poverty-fighting work, we must also be effective advocates here in Washington."

More than 350 CARE constituents arrived in Washington, D.C., to play their role in the global movement to end poverty and empower women. Welcoming the largest group ever to attend CARE's National Conference, President and CEO Helene Gayle said: "The poor don't have a voice here, so our government isn't pressed to consider their needs. We need to become their voice in this country. It's our job to convince those who don't believe in the virtues of fighting global poverty that it is a worthwhile and doable endeavor." ABC White House correspondent Ann Compton delivered an entertaining and inspiring keynote to cap the morning's first session.

After an afternoon of workshops on hunger, education, health and other issues, attendees got briefed about what to expect during their visits on Capitol Hill Thursday. Participants roll-played during dinner, presenting their arguments for increased funding for poverty-fighting programs, flexible and effective AIDS funding and support for the Education for All bill.

Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel led the evening's plenary session, saying: "Organizations like CARE shape the world in truly human ways. But you can't do it all. We as policymakers have some responsibility to help far more than we have been helping." Throughout the day, staff and speakers emphasized the importance of demonstrating to elected officials a personal commitment to the issue of poverty reduction. New York Representative Nita Lowey rallied the group when she said, "We must link arms, forge ahead, knowing that each woman who starts a new business, every child who enrolls in school, every HIV-positive person who gets medication brings us one step closer to a safer, more stable world of equal opportunity for all."

The evening ended with CARE Ambassador Sarah Michelle Gellar, recently returned from CARE project visits in Guatemala, presenting the "I Am Powerful" Award to Stanojka Tesic, a project participant from Bosnia who has helped unite women of different ethnicities to work for stable, prosperous communities following the conflict that racked their nation. Accepting the award, Stanojka said that she would take the happiness and smiles of the day back to the women in her community.

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