By Emily Haft Bloom
When I met with Grace to discuss my gig as guest editor, I told her I wanted to focus the issue on all the amazing things New Castle women do, for their families, their employers, and our community. I realized that while many of us have traditional responsibilities of homemaking and raising kids, we also wear so many other hats. Some of us regularly perform the most selfless work, and receive no financial remuneration. We are information providers, health care workers, legal eagles, and educational supporters. We provide emotional and therapeutic services and a hundred other things. There is one common thread, though; we all seem to wear these hats with aplomb, confidence and a willingness to work as hard as we can to do the best job possible.
I thought about all the hats I have worn since I left college. Seven years were spent at an investment bank, as an IB analyst, then as a bond trader, then I found an amazing partner in my husband Don, had a kid, moved to the ‘burbs, had another kid, was Society Editor for the now-defunct Patent Trader, and served on a bunch of non-profit boards. Next, I had a parenting column in a widely read magazine, wrote three books, went back to school, and finally arrived at what I am absolutely sure is my final destination–independent college advisor. Oh, and when I hit the big 5-0, I joined the Chappaqua Fire Department to assure I always made time to serve my community. My friends and family declared me nuts (again!), but it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
One of the greatest aspects of living here in Chappy, for me, has been meeting and getting to know so many women who also wear and have worn many different hats. One good friend is Editor in Chief of a major magazine, another is a chef, another a partner in a big law firm, another a docent at a museum, and yet another is a relentless fundraiser and volunteer, deeply committed to many causes. Did we all think we would arrive at our current occupations when we were handed that sheepskin so many years ago? Probably not, but to me, that is the essence of feminism–choosing to do what each of us finds meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling, beyond our more traditional roles, or just embracing those traditional roles and being at peace with our decisions. Many of us raised or are raising kids, run houses, manage active social lives and still find time to volunteer our skills and talents to worthy organizations from the PTA to the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps. And, we can’t discount the value of the example we set for all the girls in our community–women can do anything if they are determined, and supported and encouraged by their families and friends.
In this issue, find stories by and about just a tiny fraction of the amazing women who live here. The cover story, written by the eminently capable Ronni Diamondstein, focuses on the women volunteers of the CVAC and CFD, and explores what drives these women to become first responders. A lawyer/not-for-profit consultant finds her poetic voice, a tireless volunteer reflects on Mother’s Days past, present and future, and another tells us about one of the most courageous women you will ever read about. Another essay shares a son’s experiences as part of a two-mom household, and others address aging parents, career reinvention, information resources for every woman and recognizing when we might need a hand keeping ourselves mentally fit as a fiddle.
My dear friend Maud Bailey, who keeps a local non-profit nearby running smoothly, is volunteering on the Master Plan update committee and raised two amazing young men, put it best: “All the women I have met who wear so many different hats bring a different perspective to every conversation. That is what makes New Castle a great place to live.” I couldn’t agree more!