woman in pink
June / July 2010
GranteeGrantee Highlights

The Age of Activism

Working for social justice often means giving voice to those who have never spoken up for themselves. Other times it means listening to the strong voices already in our midst.

This year, Mary's Pence is funding a group with a long history of speaking up and out for justice. Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) is galvanizing the wisdom and experience learned from decades of advocating for civil rights, and addressing contemporary issues such as ageism and universal health care.

OLOCIn a society that worships youth and marginalizes the old, the forming of the group is itself a form of activism. Membership is limited to those 60 and older to assure that the old speak for themselves. The age of 60 was chosen because the degree of oppression is greater beyond mid-life, and members experience first-hand what it means to be perceived as "old."

Even its name is intended to engender change. "We call ourselves OLD with pride. In doing so, we challenge stereotypes directly," explains Jan Griesinger, co-director of the national organization that works with local chapters across the country. Often when giving presentations to groups, she can hear audience members gasp when she introduces herself and the name of the group. "By claiming the name OLD, and not softening it, we empower and challenge ourselves, each other and the world."

OLOC also confronts challenges that are specific to older Lesbians, who often feel pushed to the margins of even LGBT groups.  "We don't want to be stuck away on some pedestal, or tolerated as has-beens who used to be active," says Polly Taylor, a program participant.

Local chapters provide a community of support, as well as a platform for wider education and public discourse. Groups are encouraged to meet regionally and every other year OLOC hosts a national convention.

Members network at the state and national levels to confront injustice and speak up about their unique concerns for security--both physical and material. Outreach includes homophobia training for nursing home staff, consciousness raising with state agencies on aging, and national advocacy around social security and health care reform.

"We want to do more field organizing so that our work is more widely understood and so that more old lesbians have avenues for social justice activism," explains Ms. Griesinger. The grant will allow them to start new chapters in parts of the country that are unserved, such as the Northeast, Chicago and parts of California.

In addition to its education and advocacy work, OLOC also sponsors the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project, which collects the stories of women 70 and older. "They are an invisible population who were strong enough to live their lives and love whom they wanted in a hostile society," Ms. Griesinger notes. In collecting the stories of women from every background, the project addresses issues of class and race also missing in so much of history.

More information about Old Lesbians Organizing for Change is available at
IssuesIssues of Justice

A Voice For All


Mary's Pence has always valued welcoming everyone to the table, and hearing everyone's voice. This is a value we hold, even when topics are contentious.  The parishioners of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church found a creative way to raise their voice about LGBT rights when asked not to by their Archbishop.


ActionAction For Mary's Pence

1St. Mary Magdalene Feast Day - July 22nd

Saint Mary Magdalene was known in the first 1000 years of Christianity as "the apostle to the apostles" because in all four gospels she experienced the resurrected Christ first - before any of Jesus' other followers. This indicates that she was a very important person in Jesus' life and in the life of the early church, when the gospels were written. Later legends falsely accused her of being a prostitute. However, she is never described as a prostitute anywhere in the New Testament. It does mention (Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9) that she is healed of "seven demons," but we are not told what those demons were. Importantly, she is described in all four gospels as being faithful and accompanying Jesus all the way to the end of his ministry and his death on the cross. Saint Mary Magdalene's feast day is July 22nd. Why not celebrate the feast of St. Mary Magdalene with a Mary's Pence Giving Circle or a donation to Mary's Pence?

Upcoming Giving Circles  

If you live in the area we would be happy to connect you with the local hosts of Giving Circles:

- Karen O'Brien - Toledo, OH - July 8


Volunteer for Mary's Pence

Though our donors are spread across the country and our grantees across the Americas, we do love volunteers. Can you help in any of these ways?

  • Research Socially Responsible Investments and work with a team to place Mary's Pence Reserve (it's fiscally responsible to keep a reserve to cover expenses and potentially unexpected costs.)
  • Work on a team to get stories about Mary's Pence published in newsletters, periodicals and websites.
  • Increase internet visibility for Mary's Pence by researching  websites and identifying potential listings.
  • If you have a blog, write about us.... Here's three examples:

Bishop John McCarthy of Austin Texas, a supporter of Mary's Pence


A Seat at the Table, a blog by Mary's Pence supporter Claire Bangasser


A grantee working in Mexico, Juanita Benedicto


  • Help identify grant sources for women's development projects, and/or assist with writing of grants.

To explore any of these opportunities or propose your own call Katherine at 718-720-8040 or email katherine@maryspence.org


Mary's Pence - Who Are We?

We are a small organization with a big vision.  We want women in the Americas living in poverty to have a say and a hand in how poverty can be alleviated and social equity achieved.  Therefore we invest in local women who are creating models to increase women's economic status and improve their status in their community.  We look for models that foster women working together, to learn from each other, support each other, and explore new ideas.  We fund women in North, Central and South America.

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In This Issue
The Age of Activism

A Voice For All
Action For Mary's Pence

Reflection: To Have Hope

PrayerfulPrayerful Reflection

To Have Hope

To have hope
Is to believe that history continues open
To the dream of God and to human creativity.

To have hope
Is to continue affirming
That it is possible to dream
a different world,
Without hunger,
without injustice,
Without discrimination.

To have hope
Is to be a courier of God
And courier of men and
women of good will,
Tearing down walls,
Destroying borders,
Building bridges.

To have hope
Is to believe in the revolutionary potential of faith,
Is to leave the door open so that
The Spirit can enter and make all things anew.

To have hope
Is to believe that life wins over death.

To have hope
Is to begin again as many times as necessary.

To have hope
Is to believe that hope is not
The last thing that dies.

To have hope
Is to believe that hope cannot die,
That hope no longer dies.

To have hope
Is to live.

- by the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (Scalabrinians) Honduras, from Prayers Without Borders: Celebrating Global Wisdom published in 2004 by Catholic Relief Services.

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