Kate Holt is a founding member of Raising Our Future
In 1969 the global company my dad worked for held a contest. The grand prize was working for a year in their New York and San Francisco offices – a big deal for a 23 year old from Liverpool! He placed 2nd, and lost. As luck would have it, the first place winner from South Africa passed on the prize (something about an ultimatum from his fiancé…) and my dad took his first plane ride straight from the UK to JFK.
That was on October 8, 1969.
He met my mom a month later, on November 8th.
A year later they were married in Liverpool.
They moved back to the US, to the San Francisco Bay Area, in 1976, and last summer, 40 years later, my dad became a US citizen. He said “first I fell in love with this country, and almost immediately afterwards, I fell in love with my wife.”
He has coached soccer teams, lead youth programs, owned a business employing other Americans, sent his kids to the University of California Santa Barbara and Cal Berkeley, helped his communities, supported his friends and family, and provided a life for us beyond his wildest dreams.
He was an immigrant in pursuit of happiness, and about a year ago, he became one of my very favorite Americans.
My dad is one of the reasons I joined the politically-minded parent group on Facebook over a year ago, and why I’m participating in Raising Our Future now. He loved this country so much that he insisted my brother and I be born here. He came for opportunities, and stayed to ensure his children had them, too. I want to make sure my children, and your children, and the children of our nation have equal and exceptional opportunities, regardless of race, class, gender, or creed. That’s why I’m committed to Raising Our Future.
On November 9, 2016, my parents were in Hawaii on vacation.
My mom texted me when she woke up. “I can’t believe it, Kate.” I sent her back that weeping emoji, you know the one, because it reflected where I was emotionally without having to summon the energy to write actual words.
A few days later they were back, and visiting me and my family. My mom and I shared a long hug.
“It’s like I’m back in school and the bully won and it’s awful,” my mom sighed. “I’m over 60, I’m a woman, and I’m disabled. I’m a two, maybe a three, Kate. Our President doesn’t think I’m worthy of anything.”
We cried. We just stood there with my then-four and two year old sons running in circles around our feet, hugging, and crying.
My mom has cerebral palsy; she was born during the second trimester back when second-tri babies never made it. The good folks at the Catholic hospital baptised her immediately, not thinking she would. In fact, my Protestant grandparents had to do it again, months later, when she did.
If she were a Hamilton lyric, she would be “look at where you are / look at where you started / the fact that you’re alive is a miracle / just stay alive, that would be enough.”
It would be enough, but it’s not all she’s accomplished. She’s a seasoned educator with 30+ years of experience in the classroom, as a public school teacher, reading specialist, and administrator. I could tell you about her laugh, and her quick and clever way with words; I’d love to show you pictures of the meals she’s made and parties she’s hosted. She’s my mentor, but she’s more than that. My mom is a fighter. She has had 30+ surgeries and procedures related to cerebral palsy. On top of that, she’s had two c-sections (my brother and I did not provide easy pregnancies), and survived both breast cancer and malignant melanoma. She had to learn how to walk – again – after each operation.
When I need a warrior in my corner, she’s the phone call I make. Her strength, determination, and optimism are boundless. She’s a literal miracle baby; she’s not supposed to be here, and she has done everything doctors cautioned she might never do. Walk, ride a bike, drive a car, graduate high school, graduate college, work, have children….
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
I wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t.
My mom is one of the reasons I joined the politically-minded parent group on Facebook over a year ago, and why I’m participating in Raising Our Future now. She has spent her career advocating for children’s education, and educating future generations. She has worked her whole life to get back up after every fall; she has been bullied and belittled, and still she rose. I can’t let her work to go to waste.
Then there’s my “life’s work” – my “reason” – and, the truth is, it’s my children.
I have goals. I have dreams. I have ambitions for personal and professional gain. But what really matters to me, is who my children become.
I have two strapping young sons. They just turned five and three, but are mistaken for much older kids due to their height and, ahem, loquaciousness. Frequently, I am complimented on how big and handsome they are. You know what I think every time someone tells me how large my children are? It’s a reminder that they must not be bullies, but become helpers, and that my mission in life is to make them so.
Remember that story about Mister Fred Rogers’ mother telling him to “look for the helpers” in a time of terror and fear and sadness? I want my children to be the helpers one day. I want them to use their extreme privilege to help more than harm, and lift up others who were not born male, or born white, or born to property owners, or born with college funds started by their generous grandparents, or born with many – any – safety nets. How do I teach them compassion, integrity, respect, and unity?
Like many of you I’ve been calling my reps, but they agree with me – I am a drop in a big blue ocean here in CA. So how do I really make waves?
Like many of you I’ve set up recurring donations to causes that are threatened by the new administration, but none of the causes themselves will help win back seats in 2018.
Like many of you I laid awake at night and wondered what else I could do, how I could act today so that my sons can learn and see how great this country can be when passionate people unite. How can I do my part to make sure the future they are met with is alive with opportunity for all?
My friends and fellow politically-minded parents on a Facebook forum had an answer: let’s start a damn PAC.
Over the next 18 months, Raising Our Future PAC will be raising money and contributing to candidates that work hard for our three simple beliefs: Working families deserve our support, every child deserves a world class education and our country should finally deliver on the most basic promise that all people are created equal, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or creed.
My life’s work is to raise my children well; my husband and I are raising hardworking, compassionate, and wonderful human beings. We are #raisingourfuture. I’d love for you to join us.