So far, our story tellers have allowed us a glimpse into their journey. We have learned how an inquisitive chemistry teacher inspired her student to make a pivotal life changing decision, how a group of women with shared interests come together to give back to others, and how a sister’s experience motivates a mother whose actions then inspire a daughter to give time and resources to a cause that empowers women. These women continue to have great impact in their communities, and what they have shared is but a glimpse of their extraordinary contributions. Sometimes inspiration comes from abstract sources, such as feelings evoked by a poem or music, and other times from a character in a well-loved book.
Helen Whitacre, born in 1908, was the oldest of six children and grew up in a railroad town in rural Nevada. Kari Whitacre is Helen’s granddaughter, who from an early age was awe struck by her grandmother’s inner fortitude and the strength of her convictions. Helen graduated from the University of Nevada Reno, became a mother at thirty-five, and was a stanch supporter of women’s rights. In 1961, she was appointed to the first equal rights commission in the state of Nevada. When Helen’s husband passed away, she begun spending her summers in Seattle, attending the University of Washington and completing her master’s degree in library science. Over the course of her life, Helen patiently taught thousands of people to read (including her own mother) and shared her love of literature with whomever she met. In the truest sense, Helen Whitacre was a pioneer of the women’s movement. Growing up around her, Kari was inspired by her determination for independence, her passion for equal rights, and her love of reading. Kari’s love of reading has led her down many paths of discovery. She has encountered characters who are bold and independent, written by authors who are passionate about their work.