Growing up I was an only child to a single mother who not only showed me what a strong independent woman should be but that we are here to give back. Even when money was tight, my mom always made it a point to take me to the salvation army tree every Christmas and allow me to pick a child’s name off the tree. It became our Christmas tradition shopping for the perfect gifts for my angel.
The small ripple my mother started with me as a child developed into a life long journey of volunteering. In my 20’s I discovered a group “The Single Volunteers of DC”. A social group that volunteered together performing river clean ups, food banks, etc. We forged life long friendships while making a difference in our community. During 9/11 several of us band together to venture up to New York and volunteer at Ground Zero. This experience changed my life forever.
When my daughter was old enough; like my mother, I wanted to instill the values of volunteering and thinking of others. We started with the Angel Tree and continued many volunteer opportunities while being a girl scout leader but finding opportunities for children to volunteer was a daunting task for any working parent. All I keep hearing was she was too young.
Schools have started fantastic initiatives to encourage our future leaders to volunteer by requiring it in National Honor Society and other clubs in addition to offering recognition at graduation. Even our government encourages volunteering in youth by offering a Presidential Award for youth who volunteer but there was not a way to find organizations to volunteer with.
Why can’t there be a program for our future generation like the ones for adults, where they can come together and form lifelong friendships, gain confidence, independence and leadership skills all while volunteering and making a difference. One October 2019 Ripple Affect was born to fulfill this need of empowering young people to change the world through volunteering, making positive ripples affecting our community and our youth.
My early years were spent with a unstable birth mother who associated with and was influenced by unsavory people. Luckily for me I did not have to live my life this way, my grandparents adopted me at 6 years old and exposed me to a “Mom and Dad” who showed me love, encouragement and support. I vowed that my children would always feel the same way. As they went through the “troubling teen years” I met their friends. The ones that seemed to have it all, to the ones that reminded me of my troubled start with my birth mom; what they all had in common was the struggle to find themselves.
This moved me to get involved and help troubled teens. Volunteering with group homes and transitional homes for years, I discovered my true passion to help these brave teens who may have grown up surrounded by unsavory influencers but yearn for love, encouragement and support. They just need someone to show them the way.
I am a living example of it. This is why we started Ripple Affect. Our Ripples not only affect those in the community but those teens that need to know they are not alone.
Not too long ago, my daughter got a gift for me, a plaque that reads “Strong woman, make strong Woman, make strong woman”. This has been my motto my entire life.
After raising a strong woman, helping to raise a strong granddaughter and retiring from the company I built in a time when woman were thought of as “Great Secretaries”, I want to continue my journey of making strong woman.
Being retired allows me time to assist the next generation in learning who they are, being independent but knowing when to ask for help, being perseverant, respecting themselves, learning to love themselves and the world around them - that is what a strong person is to me.
I believe Ripple Affect offers a chance for our next leaders to learn all of this through volunteering and I may be retired from my nine to five but I will never retire from helping empower the next generation.