“I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”
These are the words of Mother Teresa, who was 37 years old when she walked away from her work at a girls’ school on the grounds of the convent in which she lived. She hadn’t been able to push aside her concern for the impoverished people barely surviving in the nearby slums of Calcutta, and within months she was living among them and caring for their most basic needs.
The small stone cast by this solitary woman began making tiny ripples that turned into tidal waves. As her organization grew, so did the number of orphanages, hospices, charity houses and schools they planted not just in India but around the globe. Countless people are still being positively impacted by this work, but only because one woman dared to step outside the walls of her world.
It’s perhaps no small coincidence that Marie Constantin, one of the Women with a Cause honorees featured in this issue, had an enduring connection with Mother Teresa. The acclaimed commercial photographer first captured images of Teresa during a visit by the nun to New Orleans in 1984—just five years after Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Over the next 13 years, Constantin would go on to photograph Teresa and her fellow nuns numerous times, and she published a memoir on the subject, Finding Calcutta, in 2016.
Marie Constantin began making ripples of her own in 2020 when she embarked on an effort to beautify our city’s bodies of water. What began with a small group of volunteers picking up litter in Capitol Lake eventually led to the formation of the Louisiana Stormwater Coalition, aimed at shining a spotlight on the need for stormwater management efforts that would not only tackle the trash issue in a more comprehensive way but also help prevent a repeat of the devastating flooding that has affected our area in recent years.
Constantin and her coalition cohorts, along with the other six Women with a Cause profiled beginning on pg. 29, have all taken that brave first step toward changing our community and changing lives. And though they may have initially felt unsure that their actions could make a significant impact, their ripples keep on spreading. Another Mother Teresa quote explains why: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”