April 28, 2017

Five on Friday | LBDI

We made it to Friday! Which means today is my last day wearing my little black dress as part of the Junior League of Harrisburg’s Little Black Dress Initiative. Quick background: the LBDI is a week-long fundraising and awareness campaign where JLH members commit to wearing the same black dress for five workdays to start conversations about and raise money for our organization’s focus, which currently is breaking the cycle of poverty. To learn more about this campaign, check out my personal fundraiser page, and to learn more about JLH, check out our website.


It’s been an interesting week, and I’m joining up for Five on Friday to share five things I’ve learned throughout this event:

1 // Wearing the same black dress for five days was limiting, but not in the way I thought. To be honest, most of my coworkers didn’t even realize I had the same dress on every day this week. It didn’t limit my confidence at work, which I had a concern that it might, but it did make me more careful with my time in the evening. I thought that having a pared-down wardrobe for the week would make getting dressed a breeze, but I had to put more thought into my accessories, plan my laundry so that my dress had time to air-dry before work the next morning, and be extra careful not to spill my coffee on it every morning!  

2 // I put a lot more thought into spending money. Leading up to LBDI week, Junior League members took place in an exercise where we planned a monthly budget based on poverty-level wages. While I’m not trying to appropriate anyone’s lifestyle, it was a good reminder that there are some very tough choices that some of our friends and neighbors have to make every day. Do I really need to order in lunch or buy a new pair of shoes to wear with my LBD, or would that money better be used donating to my own campaign? Exactly. I’m always on a budget, but this week, I tried to be as strict as possible.

3 // People surprised me. A friend from high school admitted to me that she thought Junior League was just another group of snobby women who get together, but after reading Wednesday’s post, her mind was changed and she made a donation to the campaign. If I can help just one person learn more about what we do with JLH, I’ve accomplished something. I’m learning to speak clearly and cohesively about JLH’s mission and why we do what we do, which is a goal I’ve set for myself.  

4 // Checking privilege isn’t always easy to do, but it’s something that must be done. I know that the phrase “check your privilege” is pretty buzzy these days, but it’s something that many of us need to learn to do. To live one week wearing the same dress is one thing, but to be sensitive to and accepting of the struggles that some people live with every day takes education and practice. The Junior League of Harrisburg has been discussing participating a sensitivity training offered by one of our community partners, and I hope it’s something we get to do. I think it would be such a great learning experience and so useful in how we interact with those around us.

5 // My family is so supportive and came through right away. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t meet my fundraising for this goal, but I’m so happy to share that I reached my $250 goal on the very first day due to the generosity of my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and husband. Having people who support my efforts and what I do makes me so thankful and so happy. While I’ve met my goal, JLH is still a little bit shy of our overall goal and I would be so, so appreciative if you would like to join me in donating {here}.

Despite my reservations, I’m so glad I participated in this year’s Little Black Dress Initiative. I learned quite a bit about myself, about my community, and stepped out of my comfort zone. A lot of work went in to planning this event, and I’m thankful to everyone who had a hand in pulling it off successfully. And a huge thank you to each and every one of you who took the time and shared your hard-earned dollars with an organization that means so much to me, and to the Harrisburg community. THANK YOU ALL!!!

April 26, 2017

The Little Black Dress Initiative

Happy Wednesday – we are halfway through the week, people! And that means I’m halfway through my Little Black Dress Initiative week, too! What is LBDI, you ask? It’s an awareness campaign and fundraising effort on behalf of the Junior League of Harrisburg where members wear the same black dress for five workdays in order to start conversations about and raise money for those in our community who need it most.


I’ll be completely honest, I had some big reservations about participating in this campaign. I’m not good at asking for money, and I get nervous when I’m put on the spot to talk about something, even when it’s something I fully believe in. The biggest reservation I had about participating was putting aside my privilege, which sometimes can be difficult to do. Let me break it down a little bit for you:

A living wage calculation shows the hourly rate that an individual must earn 40 hours/week in order to meet the basic living expenses of their family. For a single parent household with one child, the living wage in Dauphin County is $21.47/hour (source: Poverty in America, Living Wage Calculator, 2014). 

Without getting into too much detail, I will share that my annual income from my first full-time job out of college was under $19,000. That breaks down to still be almost $2.00/hour above the Pennsylvania minimum wage, but I was nowhere near making enough to support basic living expenses. My company offered health insurance, which I took advantage of, as well as a 401(k), which I didn’t take advantage of because saving money was something that wasn’t happening at that point in my financial life. 

While I was lucky to have a job, I was even more fortunate that I have parents who were more than willing to allow me to move back in with them. I scraped by to pay my cell phone bill, car payment, student loans, and to feed myself, but I survived because I didn’t have to pay for housing. Did that make me feel less than adequate as an adult? Absolutely. It was embarrassing, and it made me feel like I didn’t have anything together. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have felt like if I didn’t have the help I did.

And that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to participate in LBDI. I’m the first to admit that I’m uncomfortable talking coherently and cohesively about bridging the gap between poverty and self-sufficiency. I’m uncomfortable asking my friends and family for money to support my fundraising efforts. I’m uncomfortable talking about the privilege and luck I’ve had in my lifetime that allow me to live in my home, put food on my table, and travel with my family. It’s time for me to put that discomfort aside, though, because the unease I feel in asking you to donate to my campaign is nothing compared to the distress of being hungry because there’s no money left for food, or the feeling of wearing a hand-me-down dress to work each day because there’s no cash left in the budget for clothes for mom after the kids are taken care of.

Would you please join me on my Little Black Dress journey through a donation to the Junior League of Harrisburg? Your donation will be used to fulfill our goal of breaking the cycle of poverty in the Capital Region by promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

You can support me by visiting {my donation page}.  Your donation will go directly to support the mission of the JLH and will help us continue to deliver our community and membership training program.



























Thank you to all of my friends and family who have already made a donation. And thank you to the Junior League of Harrisburg team who made this event possible!

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April 5, 2017

Book Club | March 2017

It's that time again - book club time! I'm right on track with my goal to read 52 books this year. In March I finished quite a few books, some good, some not so good. So let's get to it - what I read last month (no spoilers!):

March 2017 Book Club | Reads and Reviews


The Assistants by Camille Perri

(3/5) The premise behind this novel is what any post-grad dreams of: finding a windfall that allows for paying off student loans in one immediate lump sum. However, for Tina Fontana, her windfall comes through an embezzlement ring that she creates with other young assistants at the gigantic media company where they work. It's a silly story, but the sheer amount of money that many of us owe from our college educations is all too real, and Tina and her girlfriends try to even the playing field a bit. This story is a quick beach read, but fair warning - if you have as many college loans as I do, you might get a little pissy when reading!

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

(3.5/5) Anyone who has ever worked in the foodservice industry as a server or bartender will relate to at least one part of this story. We follow Tess, new to NYC, as she works with the lifers in the restaurant world, as well as those who are "just here until something better comes along." I will say, though, that this book really has no plot. It's just tagging along with Tess as she explores a new life in the city - food, men, drugs. Or maybe it was just me and I was missing something? If you read it, I'd really like to know what you thought!

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

(4/5) I have to start by saying I liked this book so much more at the end than I did when I started it. It's a mystery that begins with Ava arriving back in New York after the death of her twin sister, Zelda. Almost immediately upon her arrival back at the family's vineyard, Ava begins to realize that her sister's death is just a bit too suspicious, just as Zelda's notes and clues start rolling in. As Ava made her way through the alphabet trying to figure out just what kind of game Zelda is playing, I found myself becoming more and more engrossed in the story. I'm looking forward to more from this new author!

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

(2.5/5) This story about high school mean girls gone too far was somewhat disappointing to me after really, really enjoying Abbott's novel "You Will Know Me," which I read last summer while sitting at the pool. It just seemed so ridiculously unreal to me - high school cheerleaders drinking with their coach, affairs, and a murder - it was all so much. Still, I finished the book and was left with so many questions. I wanted to know what happened AFTER the story finished; there was so much more to be told.

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

(3/5) Have you ever read a book where you absolutely despised the main character? That's how I felt about We Could Be Beautiful. Catherine West (great name, though) is a very wealthy woman living in NYC. She spends her time visiting with her senile mother, competing with her younger sister, and worrying about getting older. So when a new man appears, she falls head over heels for him and quickly becomes engaged. But her new fiance, William, is hiding a secret and Catherine has to decide if that secret is worth uncovering and living with, or if she wants to keep it hidden and finally become happily married. I finished this story pretty quickly, but there were so many times that I wanted to reach through the pages and slap Catherine for her bratty attitude. But hey, if the author's goal was to give us an utterly unlikeable main character, she absolutely succeeded! 

So, that's where I'm at after March's reading list. If you've read any of them, what did you think? I always love hearing what others thought of books I might've completely disliked or absolutely loved.

I'm currently struggling through June by Miranda Beverly-Whitemore and I have Anna Kendrick's book up next. Any suggestions for what to read after that? Let me know!

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