Capital Impact - Spring 2019

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Spring into Action


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Contributors Erin Aldridge Barbara Boudreaux Bailee Carpenter Ashley Charest Andrea Holland Chelsea Hopkins Lauren Journot Leslie Leifer Michelle McCormick Jennifer Montgomery Brie Engelken Parks Kim Sixkiller Laura Vaughn Ashley Watson

from the



fter a long winter, Spring has finally arrived in Kansas! Trees are green again and flowers bloom while animals wake and abound with energy. We hope you, too, feel enlivened and ready to “Spring into Action.” This Issue we look back on JLT’s impact in the community and look forward to the transformation of JLT already in motion. We introduce difficult abuse occurring in our community and provide insight and inspiration on how readers and their families can together Spring into Action!

Editorial Board Barbara Boudreaux Chelsa Chistman Lindsey Clabaugh Jill Gary Kelsie Jefferson Katie Koupal Jennifer Mims Jamie Mueller Cassie Norton Kristina Simmons Tiffany Strohmeyer Laura Vaughn

Barbara Boudreaux






VP Communications Council Katie Koupal Copy Editor Vickie Hawver Copy Editor Pam Koupal Content Editor Jennifer Mims Assistant Editor Maddie Williams Assistant Editor Bailee Carpenter Editor Barbara Boudreaux





Editorial Team



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From the


“A body in motion stays in motion.” At least that’s what the Celebrex commercial reminds us on a daily basis. Perhaps a bit cliché, but it is proved true with Newton’s Laws of Motion. The only reason things slow down on Earth is the gravitational pull. Why do I bring up physics? If organizations like the Junior League of Topeka do not stay in motion, our communities become stagnant and our impact slows to a crawl. So what are WE doing to “stay in motion?” JLT is constantly seeking ways to be an active participant in our community. We get plugged in and our members look for new ways to engage. We stay attuned to the needs of our community as we forge new partnerships. We transform our community impact focus to take on difficult matters such as human trafficking, poverty, and violence that are affecting our neighbors and our nation as a whole.

Each year we welcome women to join in our mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. New members will bring fresh ideas, new connections, and their vast experience to JLT. Our 2019-2020 New Member class begins recruitment this June. Contact us at to join in the momentum!

Erin Aldridge, 2018-2020 President


Board of Directors



Erin Aldridge

Bridgette Hooper

Kimberly Streit Vogelsberg

Katie Koupal

Ginger Harper





Community Impact

Ashlee Schnieder

Kelsie Shafer

Katie Elwell

Laurie Niehaus

Kim Hinkly

Funding Development

Leadership Development

Membership Development

Sustainer Representative

Sustainer Advisor

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New Member Spotlight Ashley Charest By Brie Engelken Parks

On a dark winter evening one January, sitting in the dining hall of a local church, a fierce mama bear asked well thought-out and prepared questions during a daycare town hall meeting and volunteered her time to help provide materials so that parents at the daycare were better informed. This woman clearly was well-organized, intelligent, and cared deeply about others, however it was not until a few years later that I had the opportunity to learn more about just how many hats this amazing woman wears every day. Ashley Charest is not just a Topeka mom, she is a wife, community leader and executive of a non-profit, volunteer, and most recently, a new member of the Junior League of Topeka. Ashley embodies everything JLT is about - learning new skills from others and sharing your talents with fellow members and the community. Several years after seeing Ashley in action, I had the opportunity to hear more about what she is doing today to help support our community. You are a mom with two girls constantly on the move, an executive in our community, and a new member of JLT, among so many other hats you wear - How do you do it all? I have two secret weapons: my husband and my calendar. My husband, Aaron, respects (while still thinking I am crazy) that I want to work full-time, volunteer, be active in my kids’ lives, have friends, etc. He and my reliance on his time are what make it work for me. My electronic calendar is color-coded with names of people and appointments, always has a note about what I need to do/bring/cook, always includes the exact address of where it is happening, and we walk through our calendar for the week each Sunday night or Monday morning. It keeps our family on the same page and the wheels moving together. Our 8th grader is also in on the calendaring with her phone, so she is also getting in on the responsibility of looking at what is going on before she tries to make her own plans. 8

You seem to be involved in just about everything! When not at JLT activities, where can we find you? During the day you can find me working as the President of Junior Achievement of Kansas. At night you will find me in a Girl Scout troop meeting, ballet studio, cheer/tumbling gym, and shuttling my two girls around the town or on a volunteer board. Wow! Those are A LOT of hats to wear! Let’s start with your role with Junior Achievement of Kansas. Can you tell us a little bit about Junior Achievement and your role as President? Junior Achievement of Kansas (JA) is a statewide organization that educates students K-12th grade in three areas: financial literacy, workforce readiness skills, and entrepreneurship. Our goal is to connect classrooms with real-world adult volunteers and have those adults teach our JA curriculum while also bringing in their personal thoughts and experiences. Plus, seriously, who doesn’t want to hang out with kids for an hour a day, for only a week, and play games with money and talk about what a cool job you have? My job title is President, but my responsibilities are a jack-of-all-trades. That is what I like best about working in a non-profit: each moment is different. One hour you are in a meeting asking for money, then the next you are planning an event, and finally you sometimes get to haul boxes and clean the bathroom. Keeps me on my toes! Last year you not only managed that role but also found time to join JLT. How has what you are learning in JLT helped with your work with JA? Everything is so perfectly paired. Working in non-profit for my whole career, everything that JLT stands for in educating women to volunteer and take leadership roles is exactly what I wish for as a staff member of JA.

It really sounds like you have got a good handle on helping non-profit organizations in our community! What made you want to join the JLT? Because it is the right thing to do; I should have joined years ago. The leadership skills and volunteering I could have done for the past 18 years would have helped me tremendously, but better late than never. In fact, I think [JLT President] Erin Aldridge would attest to the fact that I basically harassed her about me joining. I’m sure she LOVED telling you all about JLT! But how did you first hear about the Junior League? OK, honesty time. I was asked to join Junior League of Topeka in 2001. Allison Tripp is a sorority sister and she knew that it would be a great thing for me, and I did, too. However, I had a new job with a lot of traveling so I would hardly be able to attend any of the meetings. Eighteen years, gray hairs and two kids later…. it became the right time.

My husband would tell you that my passion/hobby is volunteering, which is SO true, but personally I think my best hobby is reading. I read almost everything: biographies, romance, teen fan fiction, business… so if you have a good suggestion, let me know. And we’re so happy that you have made Topeka your home! What do you want other people to know about JLT? Don’t worry about your age. I’m 41 and a new member. On the surface I have almost nothing in common with the average 20-30-year-old new members. Where we are in life and our worries are totally different. However, what brings us together is the idea that we want to help make our community better, and we want to volunteer to be a part of that betterment. Thank you, Ashley, we are excited to have you in League! Membership recruitment for the 2019-2020 JLT New Member Class begins in June.

Now that you have gotten your feet wet with JLT What, in your opinion, is the best thing about being a member?

Contact to learn more!

I love meeting the new members and actives. People are my “thing” so anytime I can further a relationship or make a new one, I’m game! What has surprised you the most about the Junior League? I knew how many great organizations and projects that JLT started, but even with all that I knew, there were still more that keep cropping up. What is one passion or hobby you enjoy outside of the League? 9



Sustainer Spotlight

Helen Crow By Laura Vaughn

future is in Topeka. I think this is an opportunity to get to know some movers and shakers in this town you might not have another way to meet. You can always quit — why not give it a try?”

Helen was one of the first people I met when I moved to Topeka a few years ago, and as luck would have it, I kept running into her everywhere I went! She has a wealth of knowledge of both Junior League and Topeka, and is one of the most honest, informative, inspiring, hardworking, and welcoming women I know. In spite of a canceled trip to California and a fever that kept her away from her grandkids, she still managed to respond to all of my questions with gusto. I am thrilled to be able to feature our conversation in this Issue of Capital Impact!

What is the most important lesson JLT taught you? To my own surprise, I LOVED JLT from the very first day (OK, well maybe not the very first GMM with 200 women doing overwhelming and amazing things in “church clothes”). But soon after, I was so fascinated with all that those meetings offered that I could never even sit back in my chair. I was always on the edge of my seat, taking notes. Junior League taught me things I wanted to know like public speaking skills, organizational skills, new perspectives on my own hometown. Indeed, my father-in-law was so right — I met local leaders. I met some of my closest friends. I met some of the most inspiring women in my life. But the most important lesson I learned was that I can do it/we can do it. Gather resources and experts to help, and make anything happen. Anything.

Give me the low-down. Who is Helen? I am a native Topekan, married to Dan Crow since 1977. We have one perfect child, Samantha, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and three children. I’ve been selling real estate here in town since my 21st birthday, and I am utterly addicted to my work. To spend more than full-time hours at work, I hire everything else done — cooking, cleaning, lawn work, laundry — everything! I was brought up to be a social worker, and through my job I think I help people with big life transitions and big business dealings every day. Brevity is not in my skill set.

What has made you stay involved with Junior League so many years later? I loved my active years in JLT so much that after my provisional year, I either chaired a committee or I took two committee assignments each year instead of just one. There was so much to learn, to try, to experience. And then, after ten years, I was totally

Tell me about your introduction to Junior League. I was raised by very liberal political activist parents, and Junior League was not their bailiwick. For instance, I was not allowed to join a sorority in college… they would have disowned me. When past JLT president Jett Elmer approached me to see if I had any interest in Junior League, it was all I could do to not laugh! Because I had the utmost respect for her, though, I just blinked. It was Jett’s sister, Kate Fowler, who kindly and patiently helped me get over my many misconceptions about what League membership means. And it was actually my father-in-law, Sam Crow, who talked me into joining. He said, “Your 10

We had a long, cold winter and I’ve been dreaming of the beach. Where is your favorite vacation spot? I have been traveling domestically my whole life and internationally since I was a teenager. I never get a day off of my job no matter where I am - the realities of being self-employed. I have presented real estate transaction offers from a patio in Germany, from the airport in Chile, from deep woods in the Sierras, and a hundred other unlikely spots. But as much as I like to see the world, if I try to take a slow day, my most favorite destination is my own home - alone or with my company....Although I just read that Greece is raising money by offering EU citizenship - free college/healthcare - to anyone who invests $280,000 in real estate there. Gotta say, that’s tempting for a second home!

burned out. I didn’t have anything to do with JLT for at least another decade. At all. But I am delighted to be involved again now! I eat up the opportunity to meet thrilling women — and the ones who show up to League thrill me. I’m sure you’ve been involved with countless JLT projects. What stands out as being most impactful? The most impactful job I have had might be when I chaired the year-long intense committee that reviewed potential projects to recommend applications and proposals. Or, it might be the year I was the New Member Chair. Because of a change in by-laws, we had 18 months’ recruits, and the class was huge. We had 49 new members still with us at the end of a very rigorous year that started with an overnight retreat at Lake Perry. We ran it like a boot camp to get all of our assignments done, saluting in military fashion and all! But, I am proud that our group knew the League exceptionally well at the end of that year. And I think that at least four of those new members went on to serve as JLT presidents.

Spring 2019 Sustainer Update

Certainly, it hasn’t all been hard work. What was the most fun you’ve had in League? “Pins and hangers!” To set up our giant Next-toNew sales back in the day, we had to hang each piece of clothing to be sold in a very specific way. We worked three-hour shifts in packed warehouses doing nothing but that. The wonderful thing about working side-by-side on a mindless job? It gave us the chance to exchange life stories, to get wellacquainted (likely with someone new to us), to solve some world problems by connecting with random co-workers who knew things that work.

Junior League of Topeka continues to experience renewed investments from our membership and from the community through sponsorships, event support and advertisement sales. As of March 1, 2019 our financials indicate: Income: $77,775.42 Expenses: $69,962.35

A diverse and energetic group of 22 new members transitioned to active status in the spring of 2019. With the addition of these members, Junior League of Topeka membership has reached 72. There are currently 216 sustaining members.

Junior League of Topeka is focusing on our issue-based Transformation and its impact on child welfare. Do you have any advice as we pursue new avenues of projects/volunteering?

This year, active members of the Junior League of Topeka have volunteered over 500 hours to organizations throughout the community. The organizations include: Girls on the Run, the YWCA, Topeka Gives, Colgate Bright Smiles Bright Futures, CASA of Shawnee County, Community Action, the Topeka Rescue Mission and the Children’s Discovery Center.

Think big and dive in. With JLT skills and resources, a whole new major project can be launched (and launched well!) with or without partners in just two months of planning and organizing. It’s much easier than most folks think. Nike stole my line: Just Do It! It doesn’t matter if it’s a risk and the outcome varies from the original intent. The point is to learn.

Junior League of Topeka has made a priority of providing focused leadership training to its membership so they are properly equipped to better our community. Over 30 specific training opportunities have been provided to members through the Second Annual Day on the Hill, with the University of Missouri Kansas City, AJLI and more.



Blast from the Past: JLT’s First Habitat for Humanity Build By Laura Vaughn For more than 80 years, Junior League of Topeka has made lasting connections and established more than 35 service projects with Topeka organizations. Its members take pride in volunteering and bettering the people and the community that surrounds them. A memorable moment in JLT’s history was the first collaboration between JLT and Habitat for Humanity in 1991. The ladies of Junior League worked alongside the Topeka Habitat for Humanity crew, led by the expertise of builder Bob Berry, to help the Kristinat family build a home. The time commitment was huge: they worked on the house every Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July through October 1991. Meanwhile, the Kristinats lived in a camper shell on site for four months while their house was being built. Jim Kristinat drove a trash truck and devoted one weekend a month to the National Guard. Janet Kristinat was a joyful, conscientious mom, who never complained as the ladies of Junior League learned together how to build her home. The children, Jimmy and Whitney, were often present, sweeping behind the adults as they worked. Then-JLT active, now-sustaining member, Helen Crow documented the project and shared what the experience was like: ● Our first meeting was a get-acquainted on the site. It was hard to imagine there would soon be a house here. ● Our first official activity took place in the governor’s office. Governor Joan Finney proclaimed June 15, 1991, the framing day for our house, Habitat for Humanity Day. ● June 15 was a thrilling day. A small army of carpenters [from Habitat] framed our house in a single day. When we took it over to finish it had doors, windows and a tarpaper roof! ● The smartest thing we did, and the best gift to Habitat, was to recruit builder Bob Berry of RJ Berry Construction to help us. He was patient and kind and fun, and he was the only one of us who had the vaguest idea of what to do and how to do it. He taught us, he shared his tools with us, he helped to recruit more expert help, and he did lots of work himself. ● The most dedicated workers were the homeowners, the Kristinats. They worked with us every day we were on the site. It was a pleasure for all of us to get to know the people who now own our house, and to share the work with people so ready to work for something nice.


The newly completed home was certainly a sense of pride and accomplishment for all those involved in the project. The time, talent, and tools of Bob Berry, JLT, and the Kristinat family made the world a little bit better place, especially for the new homeowners. The Kristinats eventually sold the house in 1998 on the open market, and paid off their Habitat loan. The money JLT invested went on to help build the next house, and when that homeowner made payments, the money went on to help build the next and the next. It is still out there, rolling forward, house to house.

Habitat for Humanity is an international charitable organization that builds strength, reliability, and self-reliance through shelter. Founded in 1976, Habitat now works in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States and approximately 70 countries. It has helped more than 13 million people achieve safe, decent, and affordable places to live. For more information or to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, visit



Project Spotlight: CASA By Ashley Charest In May 1985, JLT received a request from Kansas Action for Children to conduct a survey of the community to determine whether the need existed to form an organization that would represent and support children going through a childhood custody case. The Junior League agreed and appointed a committee of three to conduct the survey. The committee determined that a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) organization was needed and submitted several grant applications for funding, including a request to the JLT. The request was for $25,750 and volunteers over a three-year period. The funding was to be available on a declining basis and matching funds were required. An expanded group of 12 individuals, which called itself the Steering Committee, was charged with the task of establishing a CASA organization. One of those members was Sue Lockett who served as the first Executive Director of CASA. Due to her long-term involvement with CASA, which continues to this day, CASA of Shawnee County named a volunteer of the year award after her in 2018. CASA of Shawnee County, Inc. was incorporated on Nov. 25, 1986. This was the culmination of many months of intense activity by a small group of individuals who believed a need existed for volunteers to advocate for children involved in the court system.

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Now coming into its 33rd year, CASA of Shawnee County served 341 kids in the last fiscal year, up from 286 kids in the previous fiscal year. Currently halfway through its 2018-2019 fiscal year CASA has served 257 kids appointed to CASA and its Citizens Review Board. The obvious question is, why are the number of CASA cases increasing so drastically year over year? According to CASA of Shawnee County Executive Director Shelley Ramos, more children are entering the foster care system because of their parents’ dependence on alcohol and drugs. In fact, the opioid crisis has been decimating parents and over the past few years Kansas has seen a sharp increase in foster care cases based on opioids alone.


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With only 10 full and part-time staff, CASA serves its children with a strong volunteer base. Currently, 67 volunteers are CASAs who work directly with its 257 children. In total, CASA of Shawnee County has more than 200 volunteers. Besides being CASAs, they serve on its board, advisory board, Homes for the Holiday Tour, and CASAs who are not currently on an active case. All of this work, with staff and volunteers, takes place on a yearly budget of less than $400,000.

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Sexual trauma and human trafficking are two areas of growing concern for CASA. Ramos explains that just a few years ago, one in five kids recommended 14

to CASA had sexual trauma, but now that number is one in three. That trend is related to the increase in opioid usage with parents. The second trend is an increase in human trafficking. While CASA rarely becomes involved in human trafficking cases, CASA mentors are another set of eyes for the court system. They can help identify issues that lead to human trafficking. Preventing human trafficking is how CASA can help address an issue that seems to be cropping up at a higher rate than ever before. You might wonder how you can help or who has the power to stop these violent acts against children. Volunteers of all shapes and sizes are needed. You can choose to go through CASA training in July to become a CASA, or CASA also needs volunteers for its Homes for the Holiday Tour to serve as docents or provide sweet treats. That event alone netted $68,000 in 2018. If you have spare time during the work day, CASA is constantly seeking volunteers for the office as administrative support to do tasks such as filing, mailing and general support for its team.

Above: CASA of Shawnee County Executive Director, Shelley Ramos. Bottom Left: Child in Need of Care (CINC) Judge, the Honorable Mary Christopher swears in a CASA volunteer. Bottom Right: Volunteers and staff collect donated backpacks.

The future of CASA includes two new plans; one that helps children and their parents, and the other helps CASA volunteers. The first plan is to develop a financial literacy program for kids 14 and older with a complimentary program for parents. CASA is looking to partner with like-minded organizations to further that initiative. In addition, CASA volunteers who work on child cases can go through significant volunteer/ life challenges, similar to work/life balance. Stress and anxiety for volunteers can escalate, so CASA is looking for additional support to assist volunteers when they are at their most vulnerable.

“Lift up a child’s voice. A child’s life.”

CASA is grateful to have reestablished a relationship with JLT. Members baked goods for the CASA’s Sweet Shop at its Homes for the Holiday Tour, helping CASA profit an extra $2,000 - 3,000. CASA of Shawnee County is just one of the valuable community organizations that JLT helped establish, and we are excited to see its continued support of Topeka and Shawnee County! More information about CASA and its services can be found at



JLT Transforms: Community Impact Transformation By Leslie Leifer

It has been a big change for JLT to transition from a designated project to an issues-based concept. While having one project seems more tangible and easier to explain, having a concept allows for more flexibility and opportunity for JLT to impact change in the community and be involved with several organizations and foster partnerships.

Leagues International, began in June 2017. Our group began with researching, surveying, and exploring the needs of the Topeka community to determine what area JLT could focus on and impact. In April 2018, JLT approved the issue area of “Child Welfare as Impacted by Violence and Community Instability.” Once the topic was chosen, the committee was able to support our past projects and new community partners with immediate impact events as we determine the outcomes our organization can impact. We are actively seeking community partners, exploring gaps in services offered to children, especially girls, in Topeka and Shawnee County, and assessing the best way the women of JLT can serve the community in this capacity.

The transformation team has worked diligently on being transparent and focused on the new direction League is going. Along the way, that has resulted in new decisions, plans, debate, and compromises. Ginger Harper is leading the team along with her regularly assigned duties as VP of the Community Impact Council. Although several members serve on both committees, the transformation team has also been comprised of volunteers within League giving of their time to help shape this change.

How has an issue-based theme been more challenging or easier?

What has the committee been working on?

Harper: Transitioning to an issues-based focus has been a major shift in thought process for League, our community, and the general population. Across the nation, social service organizations are taking a hard look at the outcomes they are impacting and changing the way they do business. The Association of Junior Leagues is no different and has developed a system for member leagues to follow.

Harper: The issue-based community transformation process, outlined by the Association of Junior

Making a major shift in thinking has been difficult, but what has been easy is having the capacity to re-engage with past projects and new partners. We are identifying a pressing issue in the community and working toward collaborative impact with community partners for years to come. One challenge has been finding an area where JLT will not be duplicating efforts, but instead strengthening or supplementing existing efforts. An ongoing challenge will be a continuous assessment of our programs to ensure they are still serving the needs of the community and adjusting as things may change. How has transformation been different than you expected? Harper: Exploring ways we can make an impact through strategies other than direct service has


been eye-opening. We are very close to having clear outcomes, activities, necessary resources, and outputs to meet specific community needs. Many of the team members were not familiar with this kind of process, but have kept an open mind when working through the steps to keep moving forward. What can members expect in the future? Harper: Members should be very excited about the efforts that will take place over the coming months and years. The issues we will tackle, such as internet safety, self-confidence and empowerment, and promoting the formation of positive, healthy relationships, will be issues that have far-reaching effects on the youth in our community. JLT members will become the agents for change, and long-standing relationships with community organizations will be strengthened. JLT will also have the opportunity to form new partnership to meet changing and emerging needs in our community. Our members will be in the community delivering the messages, creating the resources, organizing the events, and building the relationships and capacity for lasting change.

Above: At its March 13, 2019, General Membership Meeting the Junior League of Topeka welcomed 22 women into the League as Members. The New Member Class, pictured above, joins a tradition of women transforming the Topeka and Shawnee County community for the better.


Are you interested in learning more about what it means to be a member of Junior League of Topeka? As an organization committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community, our membership requirements are geared toward achieving that goal! Our members are asked to attend monthly meetings, log volunteers hours in the community, and invest in the organization through annual membership dues. Each of these requirements are focused on furthering the mission of the Junior League in Topeka. Through these commitments, members receive training in leadership, organizational development, community needs assessment, mentoring, advocacy, communications, funding development, strategic planning, negotiation, networking, and more. Training, volunteerism, and social events benefit our members and build life-long friendships with others who share the same passion for community.

If you would like to receive more information about membership in the Junior League of Topeka, please email All women 18 and over are welcome and we are excited to meet you!



JLT in Action: Day on the Hill By Barbara Boudreaux The Junior Leagues of Topeka and Wichita joined together on Thursday, March 7, 2019 at the Kansas State Capitol to experience advocacy in action. The day began with a welcome to the Capitol by House Speaker Ron Ryckman, Jr. and a discussion on human trafficking concerns in Kansas by Jennifer Montgomery, Director of Human Trafficking Education and Outreach at the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. “We had several amazing presenters who provided so much knowledge and experience in our current issue area. I felt like we learned a lot from them as a group and us organizers have learned a lot in the last two years,” said JLT Advocacy Chair, Kristina Simmons. “I am excited about future Junior League Advocacy Days because we are only going to get bigger and better from here.” JLT then joined House Minority Leader, Representative Jim Ward of Wichita, on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives to receive an Official Certificate recognizing Junior League’s 118 years as a dynamic force in developing the potential of women, improving communities, and promoting volunteerism. “We get the opportunity to directly connect with our own representatives and government officials, and experience the excitement of the State House,” said JLT President Erin Aldridge. “We have the opportunity to hear how these entities are working on the issue areas that are of interest to each of our Leagues and how we can work with them to make REAL progress.” The day continued with a lesson on the litigation history and current state of school finance legislation in Kansas by Edward Penner, Principal Research Analyst with the non-partisan Kansas Legislative Research Department. Penner detailed the unique governance structure of school funding in Kansas and history of the legislative journey since 1992 when primary funding responsibility shifted from the local to the State level. Over lunch, Members were introduced to the 100th of the 19th Foundation by Deb Lucia. The Foundation is organizing the official Kansas celebration of the Nineteenth Amendment centennial granting U.S. women suffrage. “Our challenge and our blessing is to carry the torch,” said Lucia. Leading up to a three-day event August 13-15, 2020 in Wichita, the Foundation desires to raise the visibility of the centennial state-wide and seeks volunteers and sponsors to join in its efforts. Next, State Senator Barbara Bollier and Christie Appelhanz, Executive Director of the Children’s Alliance of Kansas, informed the group of the current state of child welfare in Kansas. Together they discussed


access to care, the need for substance and mental health resources for parents, and how outdated technology infrastructure hampers the State’s ability to provide care. Appelhanz noted how most kids enter the foster care system because of neglect rather than abuse. “It was very inspiring and hopeful to hear elected officials working towards solutions to real problems in the State of Kansas. Hearing them helped motivate me to keep working towards a better world and reminded me of the importance [JLT] continues to play in the health of our community, “said JLT attendee Tiffany Strohmeyer. “It made me proud to be JLT and anxious to get back to work helping fellow Topekans get what they need to reach their full potential.” The day concluded with Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt, a former State Senator and Sustaining Member in JLT. Elected in November 2018, Schmidt detailed how her role shifted to regulate, not legislate. Schmidt shared her journey as pharmacist and mother; JLT connected her to the training that lead to her first board position, on her sons’ daycare. She cautioned the group that “you can get so busy working in the world or taking care of families that you forget to advocate. Never forget that your advocacy skills are second to Limitless. Learning. Potential. none.” Strohmeyer said of the afternoon, “Senator Boiller inspired me with her enthusiasm and positive attitude and message. Vicki Schmidt always makes me laugh, and I feel like she treats us as an equal despite all of her impressive accomplishments. I feel honored just to be a member of the same League that [Schmidt] is a Sustainer in.” Coincidentally, Day on the Hill occurred one day prior to International Women’s Day, March 8. “It was great to be there the day before International Women’s Day. I think that gave our presence further meaning,” said Strohmeyer. “Mostly though, the day gave me hope again.”

The place where leaders are born.

JLT Members concluded their Day on the Hill energized to spring into action and better connected to sister league members in Kansas. “It took members from several Leagues coming together to make this great day happen,” said Aldridge. “Each used their own connections and strengths to ensure attendees had a unique and meaningful experience, no matter their party affiliation.” JLT extends its thanks to its sister Leagues for their efforts to coordinate the event and looks forward to more opportunities to collaborate in the future.

We nurture leaders of tomorrow by empowering them today. We may not know what their future holds, but we will make sure they are prepared. Contact us for more information. Serving Preschool- 8th Grade 785.228.0490


Junior League of Topeka Throughout the year




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A Note to Our Readers

Local Resources for Victims

The Junior League of Topeka has tackled tough issues facing Topeka and Shawnee County for over 80 years with arm sleeves rolled up. In this Issue of Capital Impact, we introduce our readers to domestic violence and human trafficking concerns in our community. We offer guidance on assistance available and next steps should you want to join the campaigns to assist those in need.

YWCA Center for Safety & Empowerment 785.354.7927 |

YWCA provides FREE and CONFIDENTIAL services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking in Shawnee, Jackson, and Wabaunsee Counties in Kansas. They offer safety, support and prevention. Volunteers are also welcomed to give their time, resources, or advocacy skills to help make a difference in the lives of local women and children.

Freedom Now USA at the Topeka Rescue Mission 785.354.1744 |

We know, however, that in our limited space we have only scratched the surface on these issues and urge our readers to learn more about these topics by connecting with the organizations we have spotlighted.

FreedomNow USA provides shelter, resources, and healing for victims of sex trafficking or human slavery. The group also provides training for those looking to combat these issues in their community. Local volunteers can assist the Topeka Rescue Mission by giving of their time or resources. Registered nurses are also invited to volunteer in the Mission’s health clinic.

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence (KCSDV)

Most importantly, if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, we offer our support and urge you to reach out to the community organizations which can best provide assistance.

785.232.9784 |

The purpose of KCSDV is to prevent and eliminate sexual and domestic violence through a statewide network of programs providing support and safety for all victims of sexual and domestic violence and stalking, with a primary focus on women and their children; direct services; public awareness and education; advocacy for victims; comprehensive prevention; and social change efforts.

Compiled by Andrea Holland



Jana’s Campaign to End Gender & Relationship Violence By Barbara Boudreaux When asked to prioritize her top personal values at a women’s leadership conference, Jana Mackey identified “equality for all persons” and “the courage to stand up for her own beliefs” as her most important values. Mackey lived those values by advocating for women’s rights and fighting to reduce all forms of sexual violence against women.

“In kindergarten to third grade classes we teach anti-bullying, communication, and friendship. Fourth to sixth graders we talk a bit more bluntly. We teach kids about body autonomy, ‘my body is mine’ support at all ages,” explained Cebula. Students learn that consent is about getting permission, and presenters help children understand that at a young age.

Mackey organized the delegation of Kansas women who marched on Washington, D.C. in 2004, served as a lobbyist representing the Kansas National Organization for Women, and participated in the Kansas Commission on the Status of Women. Mackey “walked” her values and was taking the next steps to live into them by pursuing a law degree when on July 3, 2008, she was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. A life of promise cut short by relationship violence.

Students are taught about healthy relationship behavior and respect in the teen years when adolescents are normalizing behaviors. High school students learn about consent and violent behaviors. “The youth were coming to us. Kids are getting so many messages,” explained Cebula. “Kids look to the relationships in their own homes and may see coercion and emotional abuse. We teach them that these behaviors are unhealthy.” – Kim Cebula, executive director of Jana’s Campaign

“The way we see it, we have two choices. We can either grieve, or we can grieve and act. We chose the latter.” –Christie and Curt Brungardt, Jana’s Campaign Co-Founders

The second program focus area is at the high school level, promoting healthy relationship behaviors and creating a culture of respect among adolescents. Teens are provided resources to raise awareness on the “red flags” of dating relationships and are taught what stalking, dating violence, and consent look like. A counselor toolkit is available to educators to provide guidance on how

Jana’s Campaign was created by Mackey’s mother, Dr. Christie Brungardt, and her stepfather, Dr. Curt Brungardt, to continue Mackey’s work to protect women. Both are professors of leadership studies at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. They observed that the “power of the story” has historically driven and motivated social movements, and they recognized a responsibility to share Jana’s story and provide a name and face to the movement to reduce gender and relationship violence. Gender violence is any violence directed at an individual based on his or her sex or gender identification. Women are disproportionately harmed by gender violence, which includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. Relationship violence is violence occurring in any relationship –dating or married—and encompasses domestic violence and dating violence. Jana’s Campaign is a national group of activists, advocates, and volunteers committed to three areas of focus: prevention, service, and accountability/justice. “Prevention is the heart and soul of what we do and the only way to end the epidemic,” said Kim Cebula, executive director of Jana’s Campaign. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to stop the violence before it starts.

Jana Mackey 24

to prevent, recognize, and respond to gender and relationship violence in their schools. At the college and university level, the campaign works with students, staff, and administrators to provide campus training on prevention and improving response efforts. This year, Jana’s Campaign will participate in four regional campus safety summits, covering an area of 21 states. By 2018, the campaign had provided 317 presentations at the higher education level and 279 at the secondary education level, impacting tens of thousands of students. In the third program focus area, the campaign aims to provide community-wide education programs to reduce violence and mobilize volunteers. These trainings are given to community groups, civic organizations, and parent-teacher groups. The campaign recognized a disconnect where 90 percent of teens identified relationship violence as an issue for teens, while 81 percent of parents did not believe it was an issue facing teens. The impact of prevention education can be difficult to gauge. The curriculum at the secondary education level is effective for at least four years, and the campaign envisions that students will take what they have learned in high school and apply it to their early college years. Before and after each presentation students are given a survey—41 percent of students stated they had a strong understanding of the concepts in the pre-survey, while in the post-survey 81 percent reported a strong understanding of the concepts. Bystander awareness can be one of the most effective prevention measures, and the campaign teaches safe active bystander intervention. “A split second of intervening can break the violence,” said Cebula. Students hear what their peers are saying to each other and they will call each other out on the treatment of others. “We stress in youth that this can happen to anyone,” said Cebula. “There is a sense that domestic violence happens to other families. It’s really important for people to know that it is happening to people they know.” Cebula explained how Mackey was outgoing, passionate, strong, and tall, “someone you never in a million years would have thought this could happen to.” When Mackey saw a temper and stalking in her boyfriend, she ended the relationship and three weeks later she was murdered. “We believe in the power of the story. We believe in the power of Jana Mackey’s story to move people.” – Jana’s Campaign. The Campaign works with schools and community groups throughout Kansas and neighboring states on programming options and sharing Mackey’s message. More information about its offerings and Jana’s Campaign to end gender and relationship violence can be found at



Types of Domestic Abuse By Bailee Carpenter One needs not to be bruised or bleeding to experience domestic violence. While many people tend to think of the injuries we can see, abusive behavior takes on many forms. Each act of violence can bring lasting and severe consequences to the victim. Domestic violence can take shape in many different forms. Regardless whether it is emotional, physical, sexual or another form, abuse often follows a pattern where the controlling behaviors will get worse over time. This long-term pattern of destruction and denial of a victim’s humanity, or personhood, cannot be discounted, nor the effects minimized. Perpetrators frequently use a combination of tactics to gain power and control over their victims. If you are being abused, call the Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-363-2287. This hotline is a toll-free, 24-hour statewide hotline. Below are types and signs of domestic abuse: Physical violence: Pushing; grabbing; shoving; restraining; kicking; spitting; biting; pulling hair; pinching; hitting; punching; slapping; strangling (choking); cutting; stabbing. Sexual violence: Unwanted touching or fondling; forced sexual contact; rape; accusations of being unfaithful; humiliating or objectifying someone’s body; restricting access to reproductive health care; forcing someone to engage in unwanted sex acts; threatening to have sex with someone else; coercing someone into having sex. Coercion and threats: Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt someone; threatening to leave the relationship, to commit suicide, to report the partner to welfare, to have them deported or reported to immigration authorities; making the victim drop charges or not testify; forcing the victim to do illegal things. Intimidation: Making someone afraid by using looks, actions, gestures; destroying property; abusing pets; displaying weapons.

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Emotional abuse: Put-downs; degradation; name-calling; making the victim think they are crazy; playing mind games; humiliating the victim; making them feel badly about themself; making the victim feel guilty. Isolation: Controlling what the victim does; whom the victim sees and talks to; what the victim reads; where they go; limiting outside involvement; using jealousy to justify actions; withholding important documents (immigration paperwork, birth certificates, Social Security cards). Economic abuse: Preventing someone from getting or keeping a job; making them ask for money; giving the person an allowance; taking the victim’s money; not letting someone know about or have access to family income. Domestic abuse is not limited to women and children. Abusive relationships are about control and creating or maintaining an imbalance of power. You may not be able to stop your abuser’s behavior, but you can seek help. Remember, no one deserves to be abused, regardless of age, affiliation, or gender. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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Domestic Violence & the Stigma of Shame


According to the Kansas Domestic Violence Incident and Arrest Trend published by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), there were 22,708 reported incidents of domestic violence in 2017. Nearly half of those incidents, 11,356, yielded an arrest. While the report shows a decrease in incidences by a little over 1% from prior reporting trends, it is important to remember that the numbers do not give us the true impact of domestic violence. Silent, unreported crimes can never be quantified. For many victims the judgement and shame is more than they wish to bear. In and of itself, shame becomes the driving factor behind why someone doesn’t live or report his or her batterer. There is an epidemic of victim blaming that surrounds domestic violence, and shame is a core impact of this mentality. This feeling is not okay, but if you or a loved one are a victim of violence, know that it is common. Help is available. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233). •

You did NOT ask for it.

In a healthy relationship both partners acknowledge and deliver respect and safety to one another at all times; these terms are non-negotiable.

It is NOT your fault.

Often times, abusive partners will warp their partners’ beliefs into thinking they caused the abuse. This is not accurate. No one ever has the right to harm you, mentally or physically.

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Commentator Anitra with states it best when she reminds us that, “there is no correct way to handle abuse. No blueprint. No how-to book.”

Each and every day by providing support for a victim you help them take the most crucial steps towards healing. Together, with organizations like the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment, we can take further steps towards education and enlightenment of one another to stamp out victim shaming and create a culture of support to help victims rebuild after violence. 27


Holding Space for Survivors By Michelle McCormick, LMSW; Program Director, YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment

Survivors of trauma and victimization, whether domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking, have described one dynamic so frequently that I have come to believe this dynamic is a universal experience of victimization. That dynamic is isolation. Isolation is the condition of being cut off by choice or circumstances from one’s friends, family, or support networks. In some circumstances, isolation is used as a tool by the abuser to ensure that the victim/ survivor has limited options to leave the relationship. In other circumstances, survivors report feeling so changed by the traumatic event that they cannot envision a future where they remain connected in any way to their prior life, including relationships with their support network. Yet, we know from cutting edge research on how the brain and body are affected by trauma that the most effective way to experience healing is through connection with people who are safe. Healing can happen in the context of supportive relationships without judgment.

The role of these relationships is to provide physical and emotional safety, including safety from feeling shamed, admonished, or judged, and to bolster the courage to tolerate, face and process the reality of what has happened. Much of the wiring of our brain circuits is devoted to being in tune with others. Recovery from trauma involves (re)connecting with our fellow human beings. This is why trauma that has occurred within relationships is generally more difficult to treat than trauma from traffic accidents or natural disasters. Survivors have to find someone they trust enough to simply be present with them. Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, who wrote the seminal text called The Body Keeps the Score, states, “Feeling listened to and understood changes our physiology; being able to articulate a complex feeling, and having our feelings recognized, lights up our brain and creates an “aha” moment.

Holding space. One of the best ways we can support those we know who are going through a trauma and recovery process is by holding space for them. Holding space is a term for a process where a person or support network does not try to force the victim/survivor in any one direction in the healing process, but instead agrees to be present with love and care as the survivor finds their own way. When we hold space for other people we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgment and control.

The good news is anyone can assist trauma survivors to have this “aha” moment! It does not require that one complete extensive training on trauma intervention practices in order to help those around you build and re-build resiliency. Listen with an open heart. Offer the space and time for your loved one, friend, or co-worker to say or not say whatever they need. And validate for them, with empathy, that you will walk beside them through their journey, however winding and twisting that path may be.

Trauma survivors need a safe space, emotionally and physically, as well as time to do the internal work required for transformation. At a base level, the body needs the space and time to regain its capacity for self-regulation. Our brains and bodies were built to heal. Our attachment bonds are our greatest protection against any threat. Traumatized people recover in the context of relationships: with families, loved ones, friends, supportive employers, AA meetings, veteran’s organizations, religious communities, professional therapists and so on.

Michelle McCormick 28

What to Know When Working with Victims of Domestic Violence By Lauren Journot Working with and supporting victims of domestic violence is a difficult thing for all parties involved. When you see someone you love in an unhealthy, controlling, and sometimes dangerous relationship, it is hard to know what to say, what actions to take, and what help to offer. To dig deeper into how to handle this, I asked Cam Cameron, Public Education Coordinator for the YWCA Northeast Kansas and asked Cameron to tell me the top three things to know when working with victims of domestic violence. Number 1: “Remember that the person [victim] is the expert in their situation.” As advocates, friends, and family we may know a lot about relationships, but it is important to remember that they are the one in the situation. They are the one in the household. They are the one seeing the violence. It may be our friend or family member; however, it is not our life, partner, home, or situation. We do not know the full details or what they should do. When working with a victim who is a friend or family member, although it is tempting and can seem like a good idea, offering advice is not helpful. The most helpful thing to do is to offer resources such as those offered by the YWCA’s Center for Safety and Empowerment. Number 2: “There are very good reasons why people stay.” It is hard for us to not ask the question, “Why did they stay?” It is difficult to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and have empathy when we think we know what is best for them. However, Cameron says there are very good reasons why someone stays in an abusive, unhealthy relationship. One of the biggest reasons is it can be dangerous for someone when they attempt to leave. Often, the victim knows what the day-to-day of the relationship looks like, what to expect, and how to avoid triggers of his or her abuser. When someone tries to leave, the abuser is facing total loss of control in the situation and this often makes the situation more dangerous for the victim who is trying to leave. Other good reasons why someone may stay include lack of financial resources, fear of the unknown, uncertainty of shelter, children, pets, and the belief that the abuser can, will, or wants to change.

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Number 3: “The most helpful way for survivors to build resilience is for them to have strong, healthy relationships with safe people.” Ultimatums like, I’m not going to help you if you go back to them, can harm relationships. If you can remember the first two things and empathize with the victim, you will have a much easier time maintaining a positive, healthy relationship with them. Relationships are one of the most valuable resources for a survivor.

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Remember, when you work with victims, they are the experts of their own situations. They may have a good reason why they have stayed or are staying, and your relationship with them may be the strongest and most useful resource they have.

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For more information on working with victims or to gain resources, contact Cam Cameron at or call the YWCA at (785) 233-1750 x 316.



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Combatting Human Trafficking in Kansas By Jennifer Montgomery Public Affairs Director/Director, Human Trafficking Education and Outreach: Office of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It is based on recruiting, harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas, and both adults and children are victims. All sexually exploited children are victims even if no elements of force, fraud, or coercion are present. Kansas has been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as an originating state for human trafficking, meaning that children are sometimes taken from Kansas and trafficked in other parts of the country. One in three sex trafficking victims forced into prostitution is a minor under the age of 18, changing the path of a child’s life forever. Through the internet, interactive video games, blogs, and chat rooms, traffickers target children because they are vulnerable, gullible, and there is a market for young victims. Sex trafficking of youth and vulnerable adults in both rural and urban areas occur in Kansas. There have also been persistent reports of labor trafficking occurring within traveling sales crews and other industries around the state. DATA Polaris, an anti-human trafficking organization that runs the national hotline, reported 220 calls from Kansas in 2017. Call data for 2018 is being compiled. The Office of the Attorney General administers several grant programs to victim service agencies across Kansas. All grantees are asked to report annually certain demographics regarding those served. Grantees reported the following numbers of victim identification for the last five years: FY 2014 – 352, FY 2015 – 428, FY 2016 – 463, FY 2017 – 475, and FY 2018 – 450. It is important to note that these numbers reflect victims who were identified during those years as being a victim of sex or labor trafficking. It does not specify that victims were actually trafficked during this specific timeframe. Local data can be obtained through contacting local law enforcement and prosecutors. Due to the underground nature of this crime, concrete and comprehensive data is elusive, but increased awareness of human trafficking drives reporting of suspicious activity, which can ultimately lead to charges being filed. KANSAS LAWS Kansas enacted its first human trafficking law in 2005. Since that time, additional legislation has been proposed in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018 to strengthen Kansas laws against human trafficking. Legislation enacted last year, Senate Bill 40, strengthened enforcement, support for child victims, anti-demand efforts, and awareness training. Shared Hope International, a victim advocacy group that seeks to end sex trafficking and exploitation of women and children worldwide, issues annual report cards for states through its Protected Innocence Challenge. The “grade” Kansas received from Shared Hope International for its efforts to combat human trafficking has improved to an “A” from an “F” in 2011 when the organization first started issuing scorecards. Kansas is one of 10 states to receive an “A” ranking from the advocacy group. Much progress has been made as a state toward creating 30

the appropriate legal framework to support victims and bring justice to those who perpetrate this heinous crime, however there is much work to be done to implement these changes in our laws. DEMAND The driving force behind domestic sex trafficking is the demand for commercial sex. If nobody purchased individuals for sex, the crime of sex trafficking wouldn’t exist. Last July, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and representatives from more than 60 partnering organizations across the state launched the Demand an End initiative, which targets the buyers of commercial sex who create the demand for sex trafficking. Demand an End is a sex trafficking-specific public awareness campaign driven by a demand-focused approach and designed to complement and build upon legislative initiatives to deter buyers and reduce the demand for commercial sex. Kansas is one of 11 states participating in this effort supported by Street Grace, a national organization that mobilizes community resources to fight sex trafficking through awareness, education, and action. As part of the public awareness initiative, our office created an online petition for Kansans to sign to demand an end to sex buying. The petition collected more than 3,500 signatures and was presented to the governor and the Kansas Legislature earlier this month. Combatting human trafficking takes collaboration between government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations. The public also has a role to play by learning the signs of human trafficking and reporting suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities. Information about the red flags for human trafficking and how to report it can be found on our website at To report potential human trafficking, please call 911 for an emergency or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888373-7888. About the Author: Jennifer Montgomery currently leads the attorney general’s anti-human trafficking efforts as Director of Human Trafficking Education and Outreach and also serves as the Public Affairs Director for the office. She has provided presentations and trainings on human trafficking to health care professionals, law enforcement officers, school administrators, members of the business community, students, faith community and non-profit leaders, and members of the public. She has been a guest instructor for undergraduate and graduate level courses on social justice and human trafficking at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth and the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Through her life experience and professional work, Jennifer is a passionate advocate for women and girls who have experienced sexual abuse and exploitation. Jennifer volunteers as a Shawnee County CASA Citizen’s Review Board member and as a mentor with the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute at the University of Kansas. She is currently President of the Board of Directors of Freedom Now USA, an anti-human trafficking non-profit organization affiliated with the Topeka Rescue Mission.

raphics courtesy of Polaris using data compiled G from the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Published in the Polaris 2017 Hotline Fact Sheet available in its entirety at 31


Community Resource Spotlight: Topeka Rescue Mission’s War on Human Trafficking By Barbara Boudreaux In one case, four women formerly living on the streets found a common home. TRM built trust with the women but grew suspicious when the women stated that they would like to leave the home, but they were not allowed to do so. The women explained that while they appreciated the efforts of TRM, they did not want TRM workers to get hurt for helping them. This interaction was the beginning of TRM looking at situations in a new light and responding differently.

In the war on human trafficking, the Topeka Rescue Mission (TRM) is making a difference on the frontlines. The Mission and its coalition partners are waging war against the system of human trafficking –modern day slavery– an enemy often difficult to identify, and with the knowhow to blend in and exploit the vulnerable. Barry Feaker, Executive Director of TRM, explained, “The eyes cannot see what the mind cannot understand or comprehend.”

What began as four human trafficking related referrals in 2014 grew to 45 in 2015, 92 in 2016, 131 in 2017, and more than 200 in 2018. A better awareness created a better response, although Feaker concedes there are certainly more unknown victims to be assisted.

As community members we are all affected by human trafficking, yet we may not recognize or know that what we are seeing is human trafficking. Feaker has served 33 years with TRM, however it was only five years ago that human trafficking arose on his radar. TRM realized that a number of homeless people treated at the Mission were also victims of human trafficking. Feaker’s team began a street operation to reach out and locate victims.

Feaker and his team decided to learn more about the perpetrator and victim sides of human trafficking. They learned traffickers may come

Source: Freedom Now USA Community Awareness Education. Additional resources available at http://www. freedomnowusa. org/resources.


compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. TRM also recognized a need for groups assisting victims to network and leverage resources. The Freedom Now USA coalition, on which Feaker serves as Executive Director, was created one year ago with the goals: (1) to discover existing efforts that are working to end human trafficking; (2) to assist in developing initiatives to uncover human trafficking and formulate a community action plan; and (3) to unite the nation to eradicate human trafficking. The coalition consists of 21 sectors –16 interdisciplinary including social services and faith and five topical including education. By summer 2019, Freedom Now USA intends to have a composite picture of what the Topeka and Shawnee County communities are facing in the war on human trafficking. A battle plan can be implemented and eventually shared with other communities. “We need to kill their system. If we destroy their system, we will destroy them,” said Feaker. True to its abolitionist roots, Kansas is again on the frontlines in the war on slavery. On Feb. 1, 2018, the Kansas legislature unanimously passed a resolution declaring war on human trafficking. The Feb. 1 resolution was particularly poignant as the date memorializes National Freedom Day, commemorating the day in 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln submitted the Joint Resolution of Congress proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Once ratified, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States. The City of Topeka and Shawnee County declared war on human trafficking on April 5, 2018 becoming the first city and county in the nation to do so. “We are turning the corner on awareness; people realize it is happening here now,” said Feaker.

to homeless shelters to find vulnerable people to exploit, and they realized that victims may be broken individuals with trust issues. TRM created a “Restore Hope” division in 2014 to reach out in love to victims of human trafficking and assist them from intervention to stabilization. “We want to restore a hope that this was not what they were born for and give them something they can trust in,” said Feaker. TRM learned that human trafficking has gone global and gone younger. Traffickers groom relationships with children and may use social media or online games to reach their victims. Teens and young children may be exposed to traffickers, and parents may be unaware or not understand social networks and the scope of technology’s influence.

Freedom Now USA encourages those who value freedom and believe slavery must be abolished in all forms to join the Freedom Now movement. Enlist in the war against human trafficking at freedomnowusa. org or contact TRM at (785) 354-1744 or

“A trafficker’s network is sophisticated; they are really good at what they do,” explained Feaker.

“Let it not be said that I was silent when they needed me.” - William Wilberforce, 18th Century British abolitionist

Victims may not have a support system and may already be facing any number of vulnerabilities. The Stream of Vulnerabilities model illustrates how Up-stream Vulnerability exposure to the state of being harmed, either physically or emotionally, can lead to Mid-stream Exploitation, the unfair treatment for the benefit of others. Exploitation then can flow to Down-stream Human Trafficking and 33


STARS: Stop Trafficking and Reject Slavery By Lauren Journot that we would never think to consider and in places we would never think to look.

Slavery. Commonly thought to be a thing of the past. The widespread enslavement of people of color was abolished long ago. Unfortunately, here we are, in 2019, more than 150 years later, with slavery happening in our own backyard. This type of slavery isn’t often called by the same name, but nevertheless, according to Polaris’s website, affects more than 40 million people globally. How is this still happening? Who and where are the victims? What can we do to help?

Sharon Sullivan, a Washburn University professor in Topeka, is helping to lead the community to a place of understanding, knowledge, and action. STARS, which stands for Stop Trafficking and Reject Slavery, is an independent task force that works with the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice to “increase awareness among citizens of Topeka of the extent of modern slavery and human trafficking.” Sullivan, along with the rest of the task force composed of law enforcement, community members, educators, and clergy members, is providing education to the community in order to address the issue.

Those of us who have just recently heard the words “human trafficking” may be baffled by the idea. How could human trafficking, modern-day slavery, still be prevalent in the world, our nation, and even in our own communities? Human trafficking comes in many forms. Young girls who are taken out on dates, given gifts, and showered with affection are then encouraged to perform sexual favors to prove their loyalty to their boyfriend who is an experienced trafficker specializing in the sexual exploitation of girls. Young children are forced to dive for pearls to make a quick dollar for someone else. They do not know that a dive could be their last breath until they get caught in a fishing net working for their trafficker. Men and women are promised refuge from violence and danger only to be coerced into a job that slowly repays a debt that grows larger by the day. They do not know the debt is their life and their work may never be enough. Human trafficking does not come in one form. It rears its ugly head in ways

Although we would like to think these things do not happen near us, it is undeniable that human trafficking is a big concern within our own community. Last year, the YWCA Northeast Kansas provided 91 clients human trafficking support services. According to Michelle McCormick, Program Director of the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment, of those 91 clients, 34 stayed in the emergency shelter which provides housing to victims of domestic violence as well. McCormick reported that in 2018, the YWCA staff provided more than 1,200 services to those 91 clients, including: emotional support and safety planning, emergency financial assistance, health and medical advocacy, legal and court advocacy, individual counseling, and information and referrals to other community services available.

Who are the Survivors?

Graphics courtesy of Polaris using data compiled from the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Published in the Polaris 2017 Hotline Fact Sheet available in its entirety at 34

Due to the nature of some human trafficking situations, some victims may not even identify it as such. Many instances of human trafficking are still reported as domestic violence because the trafficker plays a partner or significant other role for a period of time. As individuals become more aware of what human trafficking is, what it looks like, and who it affects, we may see the number of individuals identifying as human trafficking victims rise. Staff members and volunteers of the YWCA also serve on the STARS task force. According to its website, STARS has provided more than half a dozen presentations to churches and local groups and advertises the opportunity to view one of many documentaries as an educational aid. For more information or to schedule a presentation, contact the Peace Center at (785) 232-4388 or Sharon Sullivan at (785) 670-2246.

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Making a Mark in Topeka:

Ashlee Spring & the Greater Topeka Partnership Topeka is where I grew up and the sense of community in this city is incredible. I moved away for college and then for a few years after college, but I never found the sense of community I have always felt here. When I had the opportunity to come back and help the city I have always loved grow to its potential, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. Since moving back to Topeka in 2017, I have not only met a lot of people with the same passion for the city, but I also have seen their plans turn into realities as our city continues to grow. The number of people working diligently and relentlessly to help this city is the reason I believe it will work. Growing up in this city I always heard the “talk” of what this city could be, but never felt it was going to happen. Now I see it happening every day. Momentum 2022 is right in front of us with a plan and a goal that we will all be able to see happen together.

As a boomerang millennial, Ashlee has enjoyed her time back in her hometown and loves exploring all that Topeka has to offer. If she is not at one of the many events that happen in Topeka, you can find her with her dog, Luna, at one of the many parks or trails in the city!

If I could tell you one thing it would be this: Love the city you live in, support local, go to the events and join your community. Ashlee Spring is an event manager for the Greater Topeka Partnership (GTP) where she leads the corporate events for the GTP and assists in the Downtown Topeka festivals. Events include the GTP’s Annual Meeting, State of the Community, the Music and Food Truck Festivals and many more. In 2018, Ashlee was named one of Downtown Topeka’s Rising Leaders for her involvement with the GTP and the community.

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Making a Difference in Topeka:

Exploring Career Pathways By Chelsea Hopkins

There are many ways to make an impact around our local community and the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning & Careers (TCALC) is doing it in a way Topeka has never seen before. The only learning center of its kind in the region, TCALC offers high school juniors and seniors a place to explore professions of interest as part of their everyday curriculum. While originally only offering enrollment to USD 501 students, TCALC now offers all Shawnee County students the opportunity to participate in classes. Opening its doors in September 2018, TCALC is now in its second semester of profession-based learning. At this time TCALC does not plan to offer summer opportunities, but based on demand may explore that avenue at a later date. While similar to a vocational program, TCALC differentiates itself by partnering with local businesses and professionals to teach their chosen concentrations. Instead of the traditional student-teacher relationships, TCALC classes are facilitated by instructors who have previously been in the workforce in our community. For example, former Topeka Fire Chief Greg Bailey instructs the Emergency & Fire Management program. TCALC offers instruction in four areas of concentration: Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Bioscience and Biomedicine, Business Technology, and Media & Human Services. Interested high school students who are on-track for graduation must complete an online application at Students must be willing to comply with business ethics and dress codes as determined by their chosen career pathway. There are two sessions available – 7:55 to 10:25 a.m. or 12:30 to 3 p.m. – and students must be willing to commit 2 1/2 hours each day away from their high school to engage in their TCALC program. In addition to the classroom setting, students are also engaged in professional learning experiences (PLEs). This can include guest speakers, job shadows, site visits, professional internships, and even interviews with a business professional. The goal of offering PLEs is to prepare the students for real-world job experiences by immersing them in applicable situations. In addition to the benefit of learning hands-on in their chosen concentration, students can earn college credits through TCALC in certain areas of study. Washburn University has collaborated with TCALC to offer dual credit in some teaching and sports medicine courses. TCALC does not have tuition or an additional fee to enroll. This unique cost structure helps students get a head start on their college courses without the steep cost of college tuition. TCALC encourages community participation to aid in the development of each student attending her or his chosen study. Businesses such as Westar Energy, Stormont-Vail HealthCare, Meals on Wheels, and Valeo Behavioral Health have already chosen to partner with Topeka Public Schools to enhance the TCALC program. Any and all levels of community involvement are appreciated to help enrich the lives of the students attending. If your business is interested in becoming a partner of TCALC, you can contact them via:



Making an Impact, Transforming a Community:

Let’s Meet Cheryl Hishmeh By Erin Aldridge

In 2014, Cheryl Hishmeh had a choice to make: sit back as a soon to be empty nester or find a way to get involved and give back to the community. I first met Cheryl through my church, primarily as the pastor’s wife, but then her name started popping up in conversations about the Hi-Crest neighborhood, NET Reach, and the old Avondale East Facility. Her path has taken her from a part-time volunteer to a full-time volunteer to now leading efforts to change the very fabric and perception of the neighborhoods near 29th and Adams in Topeka. What drew you to working in the Hi-Crest Area? As my three boys grew and needed a little less time from me, I started to look for a place to work and also a place to make a difference. Have you ever heard of the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Well my story is little like that. A friend of mine, Cathy Ramshaw, was encouraging me to come see a neighborhood where the school was going to be closed at the end of the year. This introduction led to a carnival in a park. That led to community dinners. That led to camps for kids at Christmas, then summers. That led to a mentoring program. That led to new friendships, understanding, and a deeper longing to help. I started out as a volunteer helping, then a volunteer that coordinated dinners or programs. After several years as a volunteer, Barry Feaker hired me as an admin for Topeka Rescue Mission/NET Reach. My job title changed often, but I loved all the opportunities to explore new ways to help. In 2018, I was offered the director position in a new non-profit - SENT, Inc. With NET Reach moving to new work across Topeka, SENT would continue the community development work in Hi-Crest and East Topeka. What are the common misconceptions about working in Hi-Crest?

Proud to support JLT

Many people are afraid to work or volunteer in HiCrest, but I feel like the neighborhood and families have protected us, and protected our work. I tell volunteers that they would need to follow the same precautions that they would at Walmart… lock up your car, and don’t leave things in the open. But I have never felt afraid in Hi-Crest. On July 6, 2015, a little 5-year-old girl was killed in a drive-by shooting. She was one of the little children in our NET Reach program. When I drove over to Hi-Crest on July 7th, I felt a greater purpose and commitment than fear. I also think people look at the challenges in these neighborhoods through one lens. They ask how can we help people get better jobs? The challenges are multi-dimensional. There are generations of hurdles with mental health, low self-image, trauma, addictions, and relational disappointments. 38

We need to look at solutions that help in the midst of emergency - first time with relief, second time rehabilitation, and third time development. Too many times we are offering relief when the true need is development. Here is an illustration from “Toxic Charity” by Bob Lupton, on the receivers’ response when we offer charity: Give once and you elicit appreciation; Give twice and you create anticipation; Give three times and you create expectation; Give four times and it becomes entitlement; Give five times and you establish dependency Charity is like putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone. As Lupton says, long-term charity reinforces the underlying issues of poverty—hopelessness, powerlessness, and helplessness. This is probably the biggest misconception when people express an interest in helping. It is very hard to hold back what you can easily give to someone, so that you can offer development work, which is long-term and seeks to improve the standard of living for a population over many years or decades.

Cheryl Hismeh

What exactly is it that SENT is doing in Topeka? SENT Mission Statement: Intentionally walking with neighbors through loving relationships and strategic development to bring wholistic transformation of neighborhoods in Shawnee County. What this really means is SENT is working in underserved neighborhoods in Topeka to bring transformation through loving relationships, life giving resources, and life changing experiences. We have five priorities: Education, Counseling, Business Development, Early Childhood Development, and Health & Wellness. Last summer we started an academic STEAM program in the Hi-Crest neighborhood in the summer. We will be starting an Afterschool Launch Program in March to help students finish the school year strong. We have counseling services conveniently offered at the former Avondale East Elementary School. We are also working within the Launch Program building emotional resilience in students. We are building dignity in Southeast Topeka neighborhoods with improved housing and jobs. We have three properties and plan to purchase up to 15 in 2019. We will be doing extensive rehab work or new construction. Our goal is for each house to have upgrades including front porch, storage shed, improved heating, cooling, bathroom, kitchens, and open floor plans with 3 bedroom / 2 bathrooms.

Above: A home ready to rent renovated by SENT. Left: Launch is a STEAM program by SENT focusing on providing life giving resources and life changing experiences to kids. Continued on Page 40 39

Continued from Page 39 On the hard days, what keeps you going? I love to tell stories about our programs making a difference. Last summer we had a young girl doing a STEM project of dissecting a pig heart. Her peers remarked at how she liked the project when they were “grossed out” and that she understood the heart. Her peers told her that she needed to pursue being a doctor. A 15-year-old teenage boy doing electronic circuits learned he wanted to be an electrician, and when we asked what their favorite Launch Program activity was - they remarked - we loved learning and loved Bull’s Eye (which is the class where kids learned how to manage their emotions, anger, relationships). These stories have carried me through many weeks when we are overwhelmed with the need. Yet I try to hold on to HOPE. I need to model hope for Topeka, hope for Hi-Crest, and hope that we will help one household, one family, or one child. What do you want your impact to be? I really like this quote I found on Purpose Built Communities, another community development organization that has amazing success stories in Atlanta, New Orleans, and 10 other cities. “By replacing a sense of fear and desperation with a sense of hope and pride, you build more than a new home; you build a new way of life.” If you could give advice to someone new to volunteering or making this kind of impact in Topeka, what would you say? I love to encourage people to volunteer. That is how I got started. I volunteered in Hi-Crest for nearly three years. Now I have been working part-time for three years. I never set out to be the leader. Who knew that showing up at a carnival would lead to a community development non-profit. I have always just asked “How can I help?” We all have skills, and this work will take all of us doing our part. Many of us will not take Cheryl’s path toward leadership but imagine what an impact we could make if we all took her attitude of “How can I help?” toward service in our community. Simple acts of helping prepare a meal, watching a neighbor’s kid, or even just offering encouraging words WILL make a world of difference to someone. What difference will you make this year? 40

Making Volunteering Personal and Meaningful for You! By Ashley Charest

“You’d be great as the PTO President!” “Have you ever thought about biking across the state for charity?” “You love animals, how about becoming a foster parent to our kittens?” “We are starting a new fundraiser for XYZ charity, how about you get on board from the ground up?” Are any of these questions familiar? Did you get a cramp in your stomach just thinking about responding, or did you just curl up in bed with your planner clutched in your fist? Volunteering is a wonderful experience and something that everyone should schedule into their life, but what makes volunteering work for you is different than your mom and even your best friend. So what makes a good volunteer experience (or more importantly, how to stay away from a bad one)? PASSION It probably goes without saying, but the first way to pick the best volunteer opportunity for you, is to find something you are passionate about. Your passion for the organization you volunteer for will take you beyond what you “should do” and into what you want to do. For example, if you don’t like snakes, you probably shouldn’t volunteer at the reptile zoo. But if you adore kiddos perhaps “playing” at the children’s museum or helping at the local children’s theatre camp could be where you thrive.

TIME While this next statement is true for both males and females, its most common gender stereotype is female. Women think they can make time for anything they want to do, and while yes, that is technically true, when volunteering you MUST be realistic with your own expectations and match it up with the group you want to volunteer your time. If working at a food bank is your passion, but they need a commitment of 10 hours per week, and you can only give three hours, then your passion and the time you have for it are not a match. Instead, try another volunteer opportunity at the same organization, or find another organization that is a close match to your original one. We only get 24 hours in each day, and while maximizing your time is a bonus, we all know that time is our most precious and over-used commodity. STRENGTH Unless your volunteering spot requires you to lift 50+ pounds, the strength you must consider in volunteering is one of skill. Each individual has a unique set of strengths that make up who they are, whether those skills are in finance, marketing, organization, etc. While expanding skills is a worthy and necessary trait, when finding the right volunteer opportunity for you, look first at the skills you possess and who can best use them. Finding your right fit will allow you to immediately contribute to the non-profit, while at the same time learning more about them. Over time, expand your interests in helping them and gain new skills for yourself to boot. It’s important to remember that a non-profit still has a mission and goals to fulfill and they are not a place to experiment right off the bat. By using your passion, time, and strengths, you will become an invaluable partner for a non-profit (or two!) in the community. This volunteering time will benefit the organization, but I guarantee the one making out best in the deal will be you.



Volunteering-Make it a Family Affair! By Barbara Boudreaux Let’s face it… kids can be a bit self-absorbed. In the toddler world everything is “Mine, mine, mine.” Meanwhile, my older children cannot understand the injustice of having to clean up their toys. Parents want to teach their children compassion, empathy, and gratitude to instill in them a sense of community responsibility. However the time, patience, and exhaustion of parenting often is a roadblock to this mission. Community service is a wonderful way to introduce children to the value of helping others in a fun way that involves the entire family in healthy and helpful activity. Be it a series of one-time projects or a longer commitment, each family can craft an activity that best fits its interests and schedule. An early start to volunteering can promote a lifetime of community service. Recently the Care Coordinator at my church remarked that my toddler twins were so joyful and full of energy that she would love to have them visit elderly, homebound church members. I looked over at the twins running about from person to person and embarrassment at their behavior seized me. But when I looked closer, I saw their energy was bringing smiles to all around them; channeling this toddler enthusiasm could bring joy to others. Studies show that children who volunteer are more likely to volunteer as adults. An animal lover may enjoy collecting items for the local zoo or humane society. A budding artist could create cards to brighten the day of nursing home residents or hospital patients. Older children may enjoy serving meals to the homeless or helping a neighbor with a raked lawn or shoveled driveway. If an on-site activity, make sure to visit the facility ahead of time to confirm the environment is a good fit for your family. Looking for inspiration—contact your local library, school, community center, humane society, or parks department. Or better yet, ask your children what they think they can do to make their community a better place, their answers may surprise— and inspire—you!

Topeka Collegiate Summer Adventures Enrolling now for summer camps. Half-day and full-day camps are available from June 3 to August 2. All children are welcome, regardless of the school they attend. The variety of enrichment camps allows you to tailor a summer program that fits your student’s interests and your family’s schedule. Camps fill quickly! Serving students entering 1st-8th grade. Contact Director, Katrina Van Aalst, for more information. 785.228.0490 Enroll online: summer-adventures.cfm

Above: Lucy (7), Ellerie (4), John & Thomas (2), children of JLT Member Barbara Boudreaux, pack shoeboxes of presents for Operation Christmas Child. 42

JLT Kids Give Back

Above: Elliott (4) and Carter (9), sons of JLT Past President Jennifer Sourk donate books to their local Little Free Library. Above Left: Arabella Gathers (3), dauther of JLT Member Maura Gathers, surveys Thanksgiving blessing mix treats she helped prepare for the residents of Plaza West Care Center. Left: Arabella and siblings Keaton Stoner (11) and Paityn Stoner (9) prepare to deliver the treats.

Family Friendly Volunteer Opportunities Participate in a community clean-up day Hold a garage sale or bake sale benefitting a local charity Request items for a cause instead of presents Make thank you cards for local VFW or American Legion posts Start a "loose change" jar and donate the funds to a local charity Donate used books to a neighborhood Little Free Library Organize a food or clothing drive Serve meals at a shelter Make pet-friendly treats for shelter animals Sponsor a zoo animal Foster or rescue a pet 43

Join the Celebration of 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage August 18, 2020 will mark 100 years since the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, granting U.S. women the right to vote. Kansans will celebrate this achievement throughout the year leading up to a capstone three-day celebration Aug. 13-15, 2020 in Wichita organized by the 100th of the 19th Foundation. At the JLT Day on the Hill, League members met with Deb Lucia of the Foundation and learned of the Foundation’s efforts to coordinate volunteers, connect with potential sponsors, and educate all Kansans of this important milestone. “Our challenge and our blessing is to carry the torch, “ said Lucia, “People forget and think that what we’ve had, we always had.” The Foundation is currently looking for women throughout Kansas to help spread the word about the Centennial to their communities. To learn more visit or email

Did You Know? Women in Kansas gained the right to vote in school district elections in 1861 and municipal elections in 1887. Kansas extended equal voting rights to women in 1912, the 8th state to do so. Kansas was the 4th state to ratify the 19th Amendment on July 16, 1919.


Celebration Corner Barbara Boudreax, Capital Impact Editor, was confirmed to the Board of Zoning Appeals by the Topeka City Council for a three-year term ending December 1, 2021 Samantha Buck, Social Chair, was named to the '19 Leadership Greater Topeka Class Sheila Krohe, Member, was recognized for her research contributions in the new book, And Every Word is True by Gary McAvoy Leslie Leifer, Member, welcomed a beautiful baby girl Bailee Carpenter, Capital Impact Assistant Editor, is the proud owner of a new home Ashley Watson, Funding Development Chair, is the proud owner of a new home Lisa Schwarz, Recruitment Chair, is engaged to Matt Dinkel Kelsie Shafer, VP of Leadership, is engaged to Derek Nicholson Ginger Harper, VP of Community Impact, was named Community Planner and Congressional Liaison for with the U.S. Corps of Engineers Katie Koupal, VP of Communications, was named Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Communications & Policy for Secretary of State Scott Schwab

Thank You We hope you have enjoyed the Spring 2019 edition of Capital Impact Magazine.

Junior League of Topeka


Empowering Your Attitude! By Ashley Watson

Our attitudes are so important for how we live our lives and how we go about being successful. I often reflect on a quote by Charles Swindoll when I think about success and what success means to me. He said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church.... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.” Now, and with a positive attitude, go for it! Self-described “purebred entrepreneur” Gary Vaynerchuk believes the biggest “secret” to being successful is hard work. His exact words on the subject of success are, “Work harder. When you think you’ve worked your hardest, go even deeper.” You can say you went to work for eight hours today, but how hard did you actually work? The most important part of your work is not how much time you put in but rather the quality of the work you put in during that time. Vaynerchuk states, ”Greatness comes from adversity. It comes from having to look something in the eye and deal with it. Go after it.” So many people are afraid of difficult tasks. But that challenge, and your work toward overcoming that challenge, are what make you great. Overcoming and mastering those difficult tasks prepares you to move on to even greater challenges. Many self-help and mindset books advise not to make comparisons. Abstaining from judgment and comparison is difficult, but it is so important. You can not be keeping up with the Joneses, or any omnipresent “influencer,” and keep your focus on building your own success story. Figure out your goal, tunnel vision that goal, and go after it! Don’t listen to what others are telling you. It is your goal. Stop letting others compare it to theirs. One more key item to being successful: fail, fail and fail! And then, fail some more! The important part about failing is taking a step back, see where it went wrong, and try again with a new approach. Don’t get discouraged; you’re always learning! I want to leave you with one last thought from Vaynerchuk. His words speak volumes. “What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want to be your life achievement? Figure out what that is and then make sure every decision you make leads up to it.”

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” - Milton Berle “You have to believe “We lost because we told in yourself when no ourselves we lost.” one else does.” - Leo Tolstoy -Serena Williams

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” - Helen Keller

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” - Dalai Lama

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” - Henry Ford

“If you don’t like something-change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” “You are braver than you believe, stronger -Maya Angelou than you seem, and smarter than you think.” - Winnie the Pooh

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