Women can embrace the “and”, best selling author, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon told attendees at the Casa Misericordia Domestic Violence Shelter fund raising event.

More than 350 gathered on Thursday, April 7, as the author of “Ashley’s War” and “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” told the story of writing about the first American Servicewomen, and how they came to serve elite Army Ranger units on the front lines in Afghanistan, when women were not permitted in combat units.

Witty, compassionate, with journalistic insight, and fervor, Lemmon shared the stories of the women she met, and why she chose to write the book whose title character, Ashley White, served her country, and embodied the ability to be fierce “and” feminine, love cross stitch and work out at Crossfit, not giving up her femininity while embracing all that means to be a soldier, embracing as Lemmon says, "the "and".

She encouraged the audience to see women from multi-dimensional perspectives, not letting one dimensional views of men and women distort the depth and breadth of human character.  During the question and answer time, she shared how her own upbringing by a single mother, and later her grandmother, and an aunt from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, herself  a survivor of domestic violence, shaped Gayle to face the challenges she encountered, while remaining true to her own character. Lemmon encouraged the audience to not allow other’s limitations to stop us from doing the work we feel called to do. And she encouraged us to see and applaud the deep patriotism of the women serving our country in difficult and dangerous places, and to remember to care for all those who have served.

The evening opened with two brave survivors of domestic violence sharing their stories, one in English, one in Spanish, serving as a reminder of the hope and healing Casa Misericordia provides, and of the need to remain committed to the cause of serving victims of violence. Topping the evening off, were the gracious hosts, International Bank of Commerce, who have generously donated their spacious conference site, as well as their catering team and meal to support this ministry. Throughout the evening, guests also had a chance to bid on a number of silent auction items, including original artwork by some of the women who have been served by Casa de Misericordia.

A big thank you to the committed volunteers who have put this event on for more than a decade, supporting the ministry and creating awareness in the Laredo community.

Submitted by: Father Paul Frey;President of the casa de Misericordia Board