I am from the green hills and rainy skies of County Mayo.
I am from Caltabellotta, on the western coast of Sicily.
I am from South Philadelphia, the descendant of a seamstress.
From Germantown, a housemaid’s proud great-great-granddaughter.
I am from New Jersey, the fourth generation to live in a small city full of Italian Catholics.
I come from women who sacrificed everything.
Who left behind everything in search of a better life
Who worked their whole lives to make sure their daughters’ would be better.
Working in tailor’s shops, hospitals, doctor’s offices, hair salons, hotels, casinos, restaurants
As seamstresses, nurses, secretaries, waitresses, hairstylists, entrepreneurs.
I come from women unafraid of the future, brave in the face of loss and the unknown
Women who raised their daughters to be strong, to fight back, to work hard and never give in.
They faced discrimination, hardships, uncertainties, with their heads held high.
I grew up under the guidance of two of the greatest women this world has ever known:
A divorcée who worked as a secretary, a cleaning lady, a single mother
Who raised a daughter
Who fought back against the people who hurt her
And wasn’t afraid to leave.
She worked every day she could, in order to create a better life.
She had a daughter, and raised her to be strong, to be smart, to always know her worth and follow her dreams.
Her daughter was always told that she could do anything she wanted.
The daughter grew up to be her mother’s best friend, and to this day wants nothing else to be as strong and incredible as the woman who raised her.
She knows the women who paved the way for her faced impossibilities
Of loss, discrimination, work, refusal, abuse.
These sacrifices are what gave her life
And she will never forget
where she came from:
From women who worked their whole lives to give their daughters better lives, who raised their daughters to work hard, be confident, and stand their ground.
She wants nothing more than to make them proud.