inRegister's "Women with a Cause" continue to make an impact in Baton Rouge and beyond through their philanthropic missions. Photos by Jeannie Frey Rhodes.

A Woman’s Work: inRegister’s ‘Women with a Cause’ share advice on making a difference

In the wake of what many have dubbed “The Year of Woman,” more and more are the contributions, accomplishments and sheer power of women coming to light all over the world. Today, in celebration of  International Women’s Day, many of the most influential women in our community, featured over the years as inRegister’s “Women with a Cause,” join us to offer advice to girls and women desiring to take up a cause and change the world, one step at a time.

Claire Cashio, founding member of the Baton Rouge Emergency Aid Coalition 

Claire Cashio says that now more than ever is the time to get involved and make a difference here in Baton Rouge, thanks to the existence of so many worthwhile causes and organizations. “I’d recommend volunteering with a few different organizations that focus on an area that you feel passionate about,” Cashio says. However, she emphasizes that if you recognize a need in the community that no existing organization is addressing, don’t be afraid to jump in and start something new. “It is amazing what a few like-minded, passionate and intelligent women can do when we put our heads together and work towards helping others.”

Neelima Reddy, founder of Ekam USA

“Start small and go slow,” urges Neelima Reddy. “You’ll encourage and motivate others through your behavior. Everyone has a helping streak in them, waiting to come out, so bring it out!” By making small goals, and finding fellows to journey with you in your cause, Reddy says that you can achieve more than simply happiness, you can achieve sustained and lasting change. “Take time for spiritual advancement and mental well-being,” she says. “Be willing to donate your time, talent and treasure, and always stay positive.”

Kim Bowman, co-founder of the Bella Bowman Foundation

Start small, advises Kim Bowman. “I feel it is the little things in life that most people tend to enjoy and respect, which often leads them to also wanting to do something good for someone else,” she says. “I am confident that many small things lead to a much bigger overall!” It is in these small acts and faith in yourself, she says, that you will often find your purpose. “I have found that with self-care, passion and belief, one’s purpose for life becomes easier to understand and easier to live by,” she says.

Lexlee Overton, founder of Lexlee’s Kids

Lexlee Overton’s advice for women is to really tap into and follow their individual and unique passions. “If you don’t step up, the world will never experience the gifts you are here to bring,” she says. She encourages women to intentionally ask themselves the tough questions: What are you passionate about? What do you love? Where do you want to see change? “Listen intuitively for the answers and then jump in with both feet,” she says. “And don’t let anyone tell you no. Remember, if your dreams don’t scare you, then you are not dreaming big enough.”

Audrey Wascome, member of the Emerge Center Board of Directors

Audrey Wascome wants to encourage young women passionate about service to really focus in on one or two causes to dedicate their time to. “Remember you can do it all, but never at the same time,” she says. “You have plenty of time to do it all, but by concentrating your efforts, you’ll have the opportunity not only to learn more, but to make a larger impact as well.” A key skill to develop is the ability to listen, she says. “Learn to listen to your own intuitions and to others. So many problems we face can be solved if we just took the time to listen to each other.” Finally, she advises, “Learn to become a woman who encourages other women and lifts them up. Beautiful things happen when we choose to encourage other women to succeed.”


Dorothy Kemp, member of Boys & Girls Club’s Club Blue

“As we go about our day, at some point we realize that something in this world could be better.” Dorothy Kemp says finding your cause is all about listening to the gnawing, nagging voice inside you, recognizing the issues that you really care about. The next step? “Find people who share that same passion for good and improving the community around them,” she says. “It may be a formal organization or maybe just a group of friends who want to create the change, no matter how big or small.” Finally, Kemp reminds women that it is easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer multitude of issues and causes. “You may not feel as if you are making a real difference with your efforts, but you are!” She says, “Remember, you cannot do everything, but you can do something. And that something means the world to someone. Start your something today!”

To learn more about these incredible women with a cause, and others, check out these “Women with a Cause” articles from the inRegister archives: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.