“Mom, with all that’s happening right now in our world…. this is your work – aren’t you going to say something publicly?” Wise words from my youngest child.

Our actions can be noticeable and powerful influencers of change.

During a time when so much has been stripped away from our lives, the underbelly of so much injustice and rage has moved into the void. Hate is a wasted excuse of an emotion-it’s an unfounded, blaming, segregating and elitist emotion…. it’s a coward’s door.

I lead an organization where my “whiteness” is mobilized every single day for good. For the past 11 years, Afya has worked intensely to advocate for those ignored (both here and abroad)…I know the privilege that comes with my life and the skin that covers my tissue….. and I do everything I can to use it well and right many wrongs. This is something I am viscerally aware of while leading Afya.

Years ago, while working in Haiti, I was teaching a group in Port au Prince about rehab medicine. One member of the team dropped his head every time I got close and watched his clinical work. I asked why he did this and he said “It’s respect”. I recall saying “Let’s look at each other so we can really see one another”.

Actions catalyze change.

In the throes of COVID, Afya has been committed to delivering PPE and Medical Supplies to the most at risk minority communities. How is it ever permissible for healthcare workers, treating the poorest patients, to be dressed in garbage bags for protection? We are waging a well-deserved fight for them and it does not go unnoticed.

At the warehouse, a number of our volunteers are recently out of prison, on probation or on parole (many minorities). With the help of graduate OT students, they find their sea legs and move towards a life that fits and makes sense for them. They are coached on their pathway of wishes.

Our remarkable warehouse staff come from Haiti, Ghana…. they have seen and breathed poverty firsthand. Yet they come to Afya and give their all every day for others – they know the face and scent of not being seen and ignored, all too well.

People notice actions. Active engagement and experience can shift hate. It challenges perspective and often opens pathways to a new way of thinking.

While feverishly searching on line, my youngest looked over my shoulder “Mom what are you doing?”

“I’m trying to find the East African Restaurant in Minneapolis that burned in the fire so I can help them with a donation.”

Let your soul help you cut your unique path and lead by example. Live by your actions.

-Danielle Butin

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