Thursday, August 23, 2012

Taking a brave step, thanks to HOBY.

My biggest motivation as a HOBY Ambassador in 2004 was the keynote speech from Sandy Queen. Sandy's message centers around a song by Jana Stanfield - "What step would I take today if I were brave?" As I sat there in the auditorium, I knew that I had to take a big step. I can be courageous. I can make a difference. ...but how? That question remained to be answered.

After my year of volunteer service in Ecuador, I was asking myself many questions. The original question that Dr. Albert Schweitzer asked Hugh O'Brian was, "What are you going to do about it?" What am I going to do about the poverty I know exists? What am I going to do about the lack of opportunity for jobs, education, and food? After just a few weeks back in the U.S., inspired by many people at HOBY and Villanova, my friend Jenn and I took a big step. We started The Starfish Foundation, Inc.

Just about a year after my return to the U.S., I spoke at HOBY's World Leadership Congress (WLC) in Chicago to share the impact that HOBY has had on my life. Truth, I've been involved in numerous adventures that led me to where I am today. But more importantly -- I was finally able to answer Sandy Queen's question.

I wanted to blog just a bit about speaking at WLC for a few reasons. HOBY is very important to me, and many HOBY alum have been so supportive to Jenn and I in this endeavor. The Ambassadors at WLC were an incredible audience - mainly because many of them have also started non-profit organizations! I feel confident in saying that many of these students are going to take VERY brave steps in the next few years. 

Here are some pictures from my time in Chicago! Thanks to Angie U. for taking them :)

About to speak alongside LTC Brian Yee, HOBY MD 1986, and Laura Limarzi, HOBY Canada and WLC 2011, about keeping the HOBY spirit alive.

Explaining the millions of thoughts running through my head as a high-school sophomore in 2004.

Reiterating that ever-important question: what was I going to do about all the poverty that I knew existed?

Sharing the story of The Starfish Foundation, Inc.!

--Beth Awalt, Co-founder of The Starfish Foundation, Inc.,
HOBY Maryland and Central PA Volunteer

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