written by former TWB A&M Co-Chair, Madison Jaco
For the 2017-18 school year, I had the privilege of getting to work alongside some badass women for badass women. The past year came with both bitter failures and oh-so-sweet successes, and on the whole, I really feel like I could see TWB A&M blossoming into something more than friends gathering and speaking about empowerment; we were learning, teaching, and truly understanding what it means to empower others and our place within The Women’s Bakery (TWB) model.
When we started the Fall Semester, we were, and I’m just being honest, disappointed by turnout. We were looking at around half of the members we had the year prior, and Emma and I were a little scared. However, once we got into the swing of things, we really began to fathom what we were looking at: a group, albeit small, of humans insanely passionate about equality, education, and empowerment of others. Where we lacked in numbers, we overflowed in determination.
Over the summer, our officer team had set a goal to raise $1,000 for the entire year, so we challenged our organization of 22 students to each raise $50 over the Thanksgiving Break as our Giving Tuesday fundraiser. If you’re not a fan of mental math, fulfilling that would have been $1,100 and set us over our original goal. We didn’t anticipate every person would pull through (let’s be realistic) but for anyone who lacked a dollar, someone else showed up to cover for them. By the end of our fundraising efforts, TWB A&M had raised just over $1,000 in cash and online donations, and even after we had finished collecting as an organization, people continued to donate directly to TWB.
In the Spring Semester, we were planning the second annual RISE, a larger event for the community to learn about TWB and donate to our scholarship. We screened Zaza Rising and set up a panel of students (including our resident powerhouse Co-Chair Emma Nelson) and professors alike to discuss the film, TWB, and how students at A&M can empower women both here and across the globe. Our room fit 80 people as we weren’t expecting more than about 60 to attend, but as people began filing in, the room filled quickly, leaving those who came in at the start of the film standing in the back. Students asked provocative questions about women’s health and education in Rwanda, the correlation between sex education and autonomy, and what TWB A&M was really doing to help boost women in East Africa. Excited by what the panel had to say (and probably slightly motivated by the smell of carrot bread), most people contributed to our scholarship through donations and bread and merchandise purchases.
Through all of our fundraising, bread baking, profit shares, and generous donations by local Aggie-affiliated groups, TWB A&M raised $2,000 (double our goal!), which will go directly into our scholarship through TWB and fully fund two women through the trainings.
We were elated with the outcome of our second year here on campus, and hopeful that the student population understands more completely what The Women’s Bakery at Texas A&M means to us, to our members, to the core group at TWB HQ, and, most importantly, to the women who are defining #BreadPower in East Africa each day.