The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) presented its 38th Annual Symposium: Workshop & Awards Luncheon in the nation’s capital recently, hosting a blue-ribbon workshop on the financial impact of caregiving and honoring the service and accomplishments of five African-American women.
Experts indicate that by 2020, the United States will need more caregivers than teachers. African-American caregivers are more than twice as likely as whites to report that caregiving is a financial hardship and evidence suggests that the cost impact of caregiving on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages and Social Security benefits equals $324,044.3
In March 2014, BWA and its National Collaborating Organizations launched the Because We Care initiative, a series of forums that provided thousands of women across the country with go-to information and resources to take better care of themselves and their loved ones. Building upon those forums, the “Preparing for the New Financial Normal” workshop was designed to help African-American women become financially prepared to provide or receive care. More than 400 people attended the workshop, which featured actress, activist, and caregiver Holly Robinson Peete; AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins, T. Diane Surgeon, eldercare legal expert and CEO of the Eldercare Resource Center in Lumberton, NC, and Dr. Katherine Y. Brown, founder of Learn CPR America and a noted health, wellness and women’s empowerment advocate.
BWA also convened the leaders of 17 sororities, civic, service and faith-based organizations for Conversations on Caregiving – informal discussions on the financial, legal and health impact of caregiving on African-American women and their families. The Conversations were to help BWA frame and advocate for action that will assist and empower Black caregivers and their families.
“There are many aspects of caregiving that our families are struggling with, but the financial impact came up time and time again in our forums,” said Gwainevere Catchings Hess, president, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. “How do you save, what expenses might you incur, how do you balance working and caregiving – there are a lot of factors involved, and people are desperate for reliable information on what to do and where they can turn.”
The event took on a more festive tone in the afternoon during the Annual Awards Luncheon, as BWA saluted Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, president, Alabama State University; Reverend Tammie Denyse, co-founder, Carrie’s TOUCH, Inc. (Teaching, Outreach, Understanding, Caring, Healing), an organization that advocates and provides awareness, education, research and support for women diagnosed with breast cancer; Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, Ph.D., president and CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, managing director and Senior Client Advisor, Morgan Stanley, and North Carolina Central University honor student Maya Kryslan McFadden.
“This year’s honorees personify success, service and substance,” Hess told the 1,000 luncheon guests. “They not only excel but they educate, encourage and empower others – qualities that are truly worth celebrating.”