Heart of the Heartland
This morning I returned from a whirlwind (LITERALLY!!) visit to Kansas City, Kansas where, in one 24-hour, period I experienced tornado warnings, tornado watches, lightening storms, flash floods, snow, freezing winds, and, oh yes, balmy spring sunshine. It all started with a last-second aborted landing at the Kansas City, Missouri airport to avoid collision with a plane that was taking off! Yikes!! That should have been a clue.
The purpose of my visit was several speaking events at Kansas City Kansas Community College's celebration of Women's History Month, arranged by Karalin Alsdurf, Executive Director of the college's Leavenworth campus and Melanie Jackson-Scott of the college's Intercultural Center.
Generations of Women Moving History Forward was the theme for the Women's History Month events. Five remarkable women from the community were being honored for their contribution to the greater good of society. I got to meet them all:
Karen Hernandez, who with her husband Gene, hosted me in their home filled with artifacts honoring Dr. Martin Luther King and peaceful others (it was in their basement that I hoveredin abject terror my first night waiting to be swirled to death by a fast-approaching tornado); Sally Hatcher and Carolyn Walden, who restore and preserve historical sites; Connie Thao, a small-business owner and president of the National Hmong Alliance of Women's Ministries; and Phyllis Bass, an 80-plus bundle of goodness and joy who is the Director of the Richard Allen Cultural Center, a museum of African American History and a tutoring center for the community's youth. She told me all about the Buffalo Soldiers and the underground railroad.
At an elegant luncheon on the Kansas City campus where the women were honored, most thanked God and acknowledged their husbands for the role they played in their achievements. It was touching and tender and altogether genuine. I realized in listening to them that Heartland doesn't refer just to the center of the country, it depicts the open-hearted, warm-hearted heartfulness of the people who live there. It gives me hope.
Thank you Kansas!