Imagine what it would be like to change the world. Think you can’t make it happen? Kathy Izard wants you to know that you definitely can.
Author and activist Kathy Izard spoke at the annual Eve Marie Carson Lecture Series held in Hill Hall on Thursday evening.
Izard is the author of "The Hundred Story Home" and the founder of Moore Place, a home for the chronically homeless in Charlotte. She brought attention to issues of homelessness and mental illness and aims to emphasize everyone’s potential to enact change in their own communities.
“Do not wait until you feel 100 percent qualified,” Izard said. “Start now. Start today. In ways big and small. From random acts of kindness to acts that make history. Believe you can do anything – really, anything.”
She said her work was spurred by a nagging whisper telling her to make change in her community. She said she believes everyone has to answer to a whisper of their own.
“My message to you is this: Trust the whisper, whatever it is,” Izard said, quoting her book. “It will keep whispering. And when it does, you must either spend the rest of your life answering it or pretending you never heard it.”
That whisper was what led Izard to quit her job as a graphic designer and begin her work serving the homeless in Charlotte. She said she dreamt of making the world a better place, but with her background in graphic design, she felt totally unqualified to pursue her dreams. Her decision to quit her job and work for the Urban Ministry Center in Charlotte changed her life and the lives of many others. She urged others to trust their capabilities.
“Some of us may not believe we’re qualified to accomplish our wildest dreams,” Izard said. “That’s why I wrote this book.”
The annual Eve Marie Carson Lecture was originally established by UNC Student Government and the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council as the UNC Distinguished Speaker Series. The lecture is held every year, but was renamed in 2010 to honor former Student Body President Eve Marie Carson, who was murdered in Chapel Hill in 2008.
To Chancellor Carol Folt and many other coordinators of the event, Izard’s work exemplifies Carson’s values.
“I really can’t imagine there would be a speaker better suited to her memory and her legacy,” said Folt in her opening remarks.
The Carolina Women’s Leadership Council worked with UNC Student Government to coordinate the event. Lanier Brown May is the founder of the council. She has helped organize the event for 15 years.
“You really can make a difference just by taking one idea and making it a reality,” May said.
Wynn Burrus and Lawton Ives, co-chairs of a committee that helps organize Speakers of Carolina, were responsible for publicizing the lecture and organizing the schedule. Burrus felt rewarded by the opportunity to have a role in the event.
“It’s been one of the coolest things that’s happened to me,” Burrus said. “After reading her book, it’s going to be incredible to hear her story come to life and hear her tell it.”
Ives believes lectures like Izard’s are valuable opportunities for students.
“I think this is a huge part of the Carolina experience,” Ives said. “Someone like Kathy can teach you something you can’t learn in the classroom.”
Savannah Putnam, UNC student body president-elect, said she left the lecture filled with excitement and motivation.
“The personal stories that she told were absolutely phenomenal,” Putnam said. “It showed the positive tangible change she made in her community, and hopefully we can bring that to UNC’s campus.”
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