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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