Ms. Brenda Goes to Washington

This past semester in my Foundations of Business class at the community college, one of the chapters we read was titled similarly to this: it was called Moi Goes to Washington. An excerpt of a story from a man named Joe Kane.

Our professor asked the class if any of us knew the significance of the title. I can’t remember if anyone else did, but I knew I didn’t. So, our professor explained that it was in reference to an old movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” An Academy Award winning black and white film starring James Stewart, that was released in 1939.

When I received the email inviting me to “The United State of Women” summit, I was speechless. The mixture of excitement, disbelief, fear and wonderment that it created was overwhelming: Excitement at being chosen, disbelief that they would actually choose ME, fear of traveling alone and speaking up in important circles, and real wonderment on how on earth I would ever be able to pay my way there.

I have a most amazing and supportive network of friends, though. Both fellow ex-FLDS members and many “gentiles.”

Yes, contrary to what I was told while in the FLDS, the world is full of good, kind and amazing people. And I have had the amazing fortune of having met a great many of them.

Some suggested that I start a crowd-funding campaign so that others could help share in this amazing opportunity. It wasn’t easy for me to ask for money. But my desire to attend this summit and my feeling that if I go there will be many opportunities for good, overruled my embarrassment and pride and I decided to go ahead.

The first question I needed to answer was, how much will it cost? As I started to look into it a wave of shock came over me. I found out that Washington D.C. is a very expensive destination, especially on short notice. We looked around (a lot) and finally came up with a number that we felt would make it feasible for us to afford the rest, and I went to start setting up my campaign.

The next question was what to call my campaign. I could have made it simple – just my name or something – but as I sat there staring at the blank space with the cursor blinking back at me, I remembered this story from my Business class. I felt like I was in a somewhat similar position – a somewhat backward country-bumpkin heading into a world that was so much bigger than anything I have yet experienced. Hoping to somehow get my little voice to be heard, and cause people to understand my mission – and, most of all, be moved to help.

“Mrs. Nicholson Goes to Washington.” I typed it in, read it back to myself and didn’t really like it. I don’t know if anyone has ever called me “Mrs. Nicholson.” It just sounded weird.

Next I tried, “Mrs. Brenda Goes to Washington.” Um, no. Again, I watched the blinking cursor move backward across the line as if it was starving – quickly eating the letters one by one.

Ms. Brenda Goes to Washington.” I typed in the letters. I read it back. I said it out loud. Yes. This is The One. Hearing it spoken aloud brought back sweet, emotional memories of the first “gentiles” we really had in our lives after we left the church. Mike and Dottie. They moved to Apple Valley from Georgia and were full of “Southern Charm.” Mike would always refer to Dottie as “Ms. Dottie, his beautiful bride.” And he would call me Ms. Brenda.

Yes. Ms. Brenda it is, then. Symbolic of the first good, kind and amazing “gentiles” who influenced my new life in the outside world.

I have been in awe and gratitude for the outpouring of support that I have received, and I look forward to making this trip – and I’m determined to make every penny count and make every person who helped me, in any way, to get there glad that they chose to be a part of this.


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