Having children changed my whole world and helped me understand God’s heart more deeply. I am married and have four children ages 21-28, one daughter and three sons. It is such a joy to see them grow and become amazing human beings and develop their talents and contribute to the world. I am blessed to have them close by right now and can spend time with them. We all have a love for nature and spend lots of time hiking the beautiful wooded trails and coastline of the gorgeous Northwest! I will always be a worrying Italian mamma, and we have had our share of family challenges; but as they have grown and matured I am liberated to experience incredibly joyful relationships in our family.
As a teen growing up in Philadelphia, PA, I was very idealistic and concerned about the incredible amount of violence in our world. I was devastated by news of war and bloodshed in the world, gang wars in my hometown of Philly, etc. I wondered, with all the beautiful diversity in the world, why couldn’t we just love and appreciate one another.
Right after college, with a degree in social work, I was drawn to an international community in Northern Ireland working with handicapped children. It was a spiritual community with a very diverse population. There were still bombings in Northern Ireland, but the Irish people were nevertheless so jovial and hospitable, taking it all in stride. It was bizarre when I had to go through Belfast and see soldiers with guns everywhere. However where I lived in the rural area was very peaceful and I fell in love with the Irish!
After two years, still searching spiritually, I decided to travel through Europe, the Middle East, and India. It changed my worldview to visit so many different cultures. The economic destitution was worse than anything I had seen in the US. But there was also a richness in spirit that warmed my heart. I was still bewildered by the simmering hatred toward Westerners by many in the Middle East, and the many simmering conflicts in the world. Still searching for solutions for world peace, I finally met the Unification Movement back in the States, and I felt the teachings of this movement were both the most hopeful and practical, and have the potential to really change the world.
While in CARP (Collegiate Association for Research of the Principles), my husband and I had the opportunity to do the first World Student Service Corps project in Guatemala. We began the building of a school that took many groups of international students many years to finally complete. Several years ago, my two eldest sons went there and volunteered in the school, bringing back pictures of the finished building in a small village on Lake Atitlan.
My first experience with WFWP was bringing my mom and baby daughter to a Seattle Bridge Ceremony where many Japanese sisters came to walk the bridge with an American sister. It was a very moving experience, and my mom stayed in touch with her Japanese sister for many years. I attended many WFWP events over the years and about eight years ago joined as an active member. WFWP gave me hope that people from different cultures, races, and religions actually could create peace together.
My husband and I came to Oregon in 1988. Our first child was two months old and we took him to Pennsylvania to see my family, and then to Oregon to visit Steve’s family. We never went back to the east coast after that, except to visit.
About 10 years ago my husband and I worked with UPF (Universal Peace Federation), and Ambassadors for Peace. Portland is a small community so we often partnered with WFWP to host the International Day of Peace and other peace education events. Ultimately I became more involved with WFWP, feeling that it was time for women to take a lead role in creating world peace. Our local group is very close and it was a joy to work with our WFWP chapter members. We partner with many other peace-focused organizations to create events and have developed many close relationships with other people and groups.
It has been an inspiration to work with WFWP and partner with those other peace groups to create a more peaceful and sustainable world. As I mentioned, it has been my ongoing passion since my teen years, and I could see that WFWP was a great organization working on these same goals! Here in the Cascade chapter (Oregon and SW Washington), we partner with the Sufi School for Peace and Service, a local community college, our local Rotary Club, the Wholistic Peace Institute, many trainers in the field of nonviolent communication, and a multitude of authors, trainers, ministers and advocates for peace that have worked with us over the years to provide peace and nonviolence conferences.
I would like to share a specific event that occurred in our chapter about five years ago. The chairwoman at that time had to move to Spokane, and for awhile our chapter was inactive due to the lack of leadership. One of our awesome WFWP members, Laila Al-Amin, from the International Sufi School for Peace and Service, stepped up and gathered the troops again. We are all so grateful for her leadership in bringing us back together, helping us expand our outreach, find new partners, and create all-day peace conferences at a local community college. This May 12 will be our 4th annual event there. Her leadership took us to a new level and I am honored to act as co-chair with such an amazing lady!