Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

John Edwards visits the women of Beatitude House

This is the second in my series of diaries about traveling along with the Road to One America Tour. The series started with yesterday's diary about John Edwards visiting a neighborhood struggling with home foreclosures in Cleveland.

On Tuesday, I was following the Edwards campaign as John Edwards visited the women of Beatitude House, a shelter for homeless women seeking to reclaim their lives, in Youngstown, Ohio. To quote the Beatitude House website:

Beatitude House, sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters, is committed to disadvantaged women and children in the Mahoning Valley. In an atmosphere of care and compassion, the programs focus on counseling to promote self development and education to obtain needed skills.

Through this holistic approach, both women and children are empowered with the work habits and motivation to realize their full potential.

At Beatitude House, Edwards sat down at a picnic table with two women who are currently residents of Beatitude House, two women who are graduates of the program, and a woman who works there. He didn't give a speech. He didn't pontificate about anything, in fact. He just sat down with these women and asked them detailed, caring questions about how they came to be at Beatitude House and how Beatitude House had helped them.

Two things impressed me about this visit. First, the strength of these women who had been faced with challenges that many of us can't even imagine and who had somehow come out even stronger. Second, John Edwards's compassion.

I don't think this was an unusual visit for Edwards, except for the fact that media was there. I remember once hearing a high-level person in the Edwards campaign talk about how, before he was running for president, Edwards would go around to shelters like this one and go into a room with the residents, with no media present, and just ask them about their problems so that he could learn.

I know that as I watched his interaction with the women at Beatitude House, I saw in his face and heard in his voice a gentleness of spirit, a deep pride in what these women had accomplished, and a tough determination to fight for people like them.

I think that's all that I need to say. The videos speak for themselves.

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