Because We Care™: THE BLACK WOMEN’S AGENDA, INC. INITIATIVE HELPS EMPOWER AFRICAN-AMERICANS GIVING AND RECEIVING CARE
Experts tell us that by 2020, the United States will need more caregivers than teachers.[i]This critical need will put added pressure on African-American families as statistics indicate that ethnic minorities provide more care, use less formal services and report worse health than white caregivers.” 2African Americans are four times more likely to provide care for someone in their family, and among these caregivers – the majority of whom are women – more than half find themselves “sandwiched” between caring for an older person, and a person under age 18, or caring for more than one older person. They also report experiencing financial hardship, emotional stress, and job-related strain.
Because We Care™is a family caregiving initiative launched in 2014 by The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) in partnership with its National Collaborating Organizations and AARP. It features a series of free forums that provide African-American women and their families with information and resources to take better care of their loved ones and themselves. Over the years, BWA’s National Collaborating Organizations have hosted nearly 30forums across the United States that addressed caregiving resources, respite care, the legal and financial aspects of caregiving, and how family members can protect their own emotional and physical health while providing care.
“We knew when we launched Because We Carethat caregiving was a major issue affecting African-American women and their families,” explained Gwainevere Catchings Hess, President, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. “However, the response that we received, the hunger for information and support that we witnessed at the forums, has made it clear that this has become something of a crisis, not just in the African-American community, but also in the larger society.”
BWA expanded the Because We Careinitiative by convening the leaders of African-American sororities, civic, service, and faith-based organizations for “Conversations on Caregiving” – informal discussions on the financial, legal and health impact of caregiving on African-American women and their families. During this day-long gathering, organization leaders shared strategies and best practices their members are employing to address family caregiving, and which could assist BWA in empowering Black caregivers and their families on a larger scale. The organization also introduced “Love Letters,” a template thatencourages family members to write a letter to their loved ones outlining their preferences for receiving care and addressing end-of-life issues.
 Dilworth-Anderson, P., Williams, I.C. and Gibson, B.E. (2002). “Issues of Race, Ethnicity and Culture in Caregiving Research: A 20-year Review (1980-2000). Gerontologist, 42(2), 237-272.
Relatedness is a basic psychological experience. We all need to feel connected to other human beings: to care and be cared for, and to belong. We believe that bringing our country together starts with meaningful conversation. Our goal is to reduce polarization and social bias, to increase the willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue, and create an increased understanding and appreciation for our differences and similarities.
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Each year, BWA’s Bright Futures Awards program honors a student or group of students whose academic achievements and service to school and community distinguish them as future leaders and success stories.