How the 4-H Organization Positively Impacted my Life By Gertrude Flynn-White -February 1, 2021
Life is a journey, paved with success, opportunities and excitement, but it is also overshadowed by challenges that may become overwhelming sometimes. As we strive to do our best at whatever task is assigned to us, we have to be cognizant of our strengths and weaknesses, how we could capitalize on the opportunities we have and minimize the threats that could affect our success. We must believe that if we dream it, we can achieve it and we must believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
As a child, I found myself exploring artistic and culinary skills, not knowing that the choices I made then, would have had such positive impact on my life even now. I enjoyed helping my Mom cook and bake until I was able to doit on my own.
During my childhood, I enjoyed creating and making things around the house, especially if they added beauty to my parents’ home. This ranged from making flowers, cushions, doormats, etc. from discarded material to cutting and sewing clothes for my doll. I didn’t have a real doll at the time but I made one from empty bottle or mango seed.
Later, I became involved in culinary arts, sewing, embroidery and painting when I joined the 4-H club at high school. 4-H empowers young people with leadership skills, life skills, and technical skills necessary to lead a successful life. It helps them develop confidence, resilience, independence and respect. The program’s hands-on approach encourages young people to participate in various projects. Adult mentors are always available to provide a positive learning environment.
Being a 4-H club member, I learned coping skills and self-discipline that helped me to develop my self-awareness and build my self-esteem. This opportunity provided a good foundation for me to build a strong character. I took an avid interest in the projects that were assigned to me. I believed in what the 4 H’s (Head, Heart, Hands, and Health) stand for and I always recited the 4-H pledge with meaning as I visualized the clover with the letter “H” printed on each leaf.
The 4-H Pledge states, “I pledge… My head to clearer thinking, My heart to greater loyalty; My hands to larger service, and My health to better living For my club, my community, and my world.”
When repeating the pledge, a member raises the right hand to the side of the head while speaking the first line, lowers the hand over the heart while speaking the second line, extends the hand, palm upwards, while speaking the third line, and stands straight while speaking the fourth and fifth lines.
The 4-H motto is “To make the best better.” Whenever I say this motto, I am reminded of the words of St. Jerome who postulates,
“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better, And your better is best.”
Both the pledge and motto meant a lot to me growing up. These profound words propelled me to work hard at whatever I do if I want to be successful. It resonates with me throughout my journey and plays an important part in motivating me to be an overcomer and an achiever.
I gradually developed a passion for these creative skills and officially established my own boutique which provided employment for five ladies in my community. I remember the days I work at my full-time job while sewing and baking became my part time jobs. I baked at home at nights to fill my cake orders, cut, and sometimes sew peoples clothes while the cakes were in the oven, and cut material to leave at the store for the ladies to sew. In the afternoons, I stopped by the store before going home and the cycle continues daily. Looking back now, I wonder how I was able to have a full-time job, bake and sew to cater to my customers and care for my family.
As I worked my way through my daily routine, of teaching, sewing and baking, I effectively found ways to perfect my skills through further training. Yet I never missed the opportunity to fulfill my spiritual obligations at church. God is truly amazing.
As a teacher, I encouraged my students to join school clubs and societies or engage in extra-curricular activities that provided certain technical skills that would help them later in life. I also coached them in their preparation for Brownies, 4-H clubs, and corporate competitions. I have proudly watched my students blossom in their specialist fields and pursued careers in hospitality, fashion design, and other technical areas.
This early start allowed me to identify my innate potential, explore opportunities that improved my technical skills, and eventually fulfill my purpose in life. As I retired from active service to my community and country, I remain resolute in using the four H’s (Head, Heart, Hands, and Health) to positively impact the lives of others. The ultimate result is my online store, “Geez Home Decor” which features 95% of my home-made products.