I just got home from another inspiring Junior Auxiliary meeting in Birmingham, AL. It was the Annual Education Conference where new officers for the national association are chosen. My good friend Amanda Knauer was elected President and was installed in front of 600 women (and two men). On each chair, Amanda left a card sharing her theme for the upcoming year…JA Superpowers!
Imagine my surprise as Amanda told the crowd that she chose her theme based on a plaque I had given her years ago! The plaque has a girl on a bicycle with the words “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.”
I am so proud of Amanda! To me, she has always had superpowers. She’s organized, she’s enthusiastic, she’s REAL, she’s loyal, she’s positive, she’s inspiring, and she’s SMART! She will be a fantastic JA President.
Amanda sent me a copy of her speech, and I’m sharing a portion of it here in this blog. I hope it inspires you to find your superpower and to change the lives of children, wherever you are!
Several years ago our past President Christy Keirn gave me a cute little plaque that read, “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.” She said that it reminded her of me when she saw it and it truly does sum up my attitude when it comes to Junior Auxiliary. As I thought about my theme for this upcoming year, this plaque that hangs in my downstairs hallway kept popping into my head and I began to envision our members as superheroes – instead of a cape, we have our apron in Pantone Reflex Blue with the JA logo boldly emblazoned upon it.
Since I was a little girl, I have loved stories with heroes, especially if there was some kind of supernatural power involved. Some of my earliest memories of watching TV were episodes of Batman, The Bionic Woman, and Wonder Woman. When I first joined JA and learned our Prayer, I heard and listened to it with the reverence of an adult. As my girls grew older and my television habits began to change as they do when you have kids, I began to hear our prayer a little differently with the influence of the shows of my childhood creeping to the forefront.
Imagine… a Junior Auxiliary member armed with her apron as a cape, our logo and crown as her shield, and her hands on her hips in that stereotypical superhero stance as she seeks “to right the wrong” with “great daring”, keeping her “sympathies and insights ready, [her] will keen, [her] hands quick to help others in their need.” All the while, she goes where God has sent her as a “messenger to the hearts without a home, to the lives without love, to the crowds without a guide.” She rushes to the aid of the “children whom none have blessed, to the famished whom none have visited, and to the fallen whom none have lifted, [and] to the bereaved whom none have comforted.” If that doesn’t sound like the credo for a superhero, I don’t know what does.
As evidenced here tonight with the projects that we have honored, and the countless untold stories, each of you and your Chapters are heroes in your communities. Junior Auxiliary allows you to use your endless talents to make a difference in this world – in the lives of the hungry, the neglected, the lonely, and the hurting neighbors around you. Each of us have God-given talents – superpowers – that He expects us to use and our projects are an excellent place to put those talents to work. You can use your powers to change the world.
Can you start a project that gives books to children in need and helps them learn to read, beyond what they get in the classroom or at home? Imagine that one of those children develops a passion for reading and creative writing and is able to use those books to escape to countless worlds and write about countless more, maybe someday sharing them with the world. Could he or she become the next J.K. Rowling? Maybe that child becomes the first in their family to finish high school, giving them crucial skills to break a cycle of dependency? Either way, you’ve rewritten the future for that child.
Are you able keep a regular appointment to mentor a child and show them that there are adults that care about them because they truly care…not because they are paid to care about them as so many children unfortunately believe? Can you be a constant presence in their life and be one person that they can count on because the people in their home change so frequently and without warning? Can you teach them the meaning of trust? You have changed their outlook on this world. Maybe your influence is enough to keep them from joining a neighborhood gang and a life of crime. Maybe a young girl learns to believe her self-worth doesn’t come from other people and doesn’t end up as another teen pregnancy statistic.
Can you and your Chapter do a program on stranger safety? When you have a child tell you that they will never forget the lesson that a grown-up does not need a child’s help to find a missing dog, as one of our CSCs shared with me, or you teach them about Internet safety, there may be one less Amber Alert in the world because of you. Can you and your Chapter present a program on suicide prevention? Imagine that there are students, or even teachers, in the audience at that time who are feeling no hope and the phone number or website that you shared resonates with them. They choose to reach out for help instead of taking irreversible action. You have changed their family tree.
Can you tutor a child? Imagine that the child develops a passion for science because of your help, goes on to excel through college, and then goes on to develop a cure for cancer. You have helped to change the world for all of us.The list of possibilities is endless and you may not think that you have an amazing superpower. But…when someone has nothing and you give a little something of yourself, no matter how small you may think it is, even the smallest act can create huge changes in their life.
Several years ago, I heard the following quote in a Beth Moore Bible study:
“His holy hand resting on the least act renders the ordinary extraordinary.”
We start every Chapter meeting with the Junior Auxiliary Prayer. We invite God to send us where we are needed. We ask that he be present with us, and we ask him to arm us with the powers that we will need to carry out our tasks. He has equipped us with an amazing collective of superpowers in this room and within each of our Chapters.
With two young kids at home, we watch a lot of Disney movies and recently watched “Big Hero 6.” At the conclusion of the movie, the main character, Hiro, says, “We didn’t set out to be superheroes. But sometimes life doesn’t go the way you planned. The good thing is, my brother wanted to help a lot of people and that’s what we’re gonna do.” When I heard that, I couldn’t help but think of the women that make up Junior Auxiliary. We just want to help people.
Throughout this next year, I challenge you to find your superpower. What can you do? On your table are postcards. My daughter, Abby, helped me design these and drew a Junior Auxiliary member armed with her apron and cape. She’s got her hands on her hips, ready to go and her pants are covered in paint, showing that she’s not afraid of hard work and getting messy in the process. During this year, I would like for you to send those to Headquarters and share your stories with me. What did you learn about yourself or your Chapter?Remember that when you put on your service attire, be it an apron, smock, or shirt with that NAJA crown, you are a hero with extraordinary talents and you will change lives…it may be one person at a time, but there will be a ripple effect, changing more lives around those we serve.