Julia and Erin Smith are both Young Ambassadors for Opportunity. They were introduced to Opportunity International by their mother, Governor Jill Smith. Erin is currently fundraising for Opportunity International at https://www.opportunity.org/give/fundraisers/erinandmichael
It was Christmas morning and I was eager to open all of the presents to get to the final envelopes in the tree. In our family, we always save any envelopes in the tree for last… the envelopes are often our biggest gifts; they might include a picture and a check towards a big ticket item. There were two envelopes left… one with my name and one with my sister’s name on it. What big new item would it be this year? I thought as I ripped it open. I found a gift card for Opportunity International and a letter from my parents about the joy of giving. This card allowed me to go online, look through stories of women all over the world who live in poverty and are in need of a small amount of capital to get their businesses going, and see the face of the women I could help by redeeming my gift card.
I am grateful to have a mother who passionately dedicates her time to an organization like Opportunity International. Her involvement with Opportunity – from hosting people from all over the world in our home to setting up an Insight Trip for me to go to the Dominican Republic when I was 13 to see poverty with my own eyes – has been an example for me to make giving a priority in my life. My sister and I both chose to become Young Ambassadors for Opportunity when we graduated from college and began our careers. It has been such a special experience to remain a part of the life-changing organization our Mom introduced us to growing up.
Thanks to my mom’s passion for serving others and combating worldwide poverty, Opportunity International has been a part of my life since Mother’s Day of 1986, the day I was born. Yes, my mother became a mother on Mother’s Day. My mom has a heart that is wide open to God’s unbounded plans for her. Or in other words, she never turns down the chance to visit with Opportunity clients in any corner of the world. She is fearless.
She has traveled throughout Latin America, Africa & Asia to connect face-to-face with men and women whose lives have been transformed by Opportunity International: parents now able to send their children to school, women supporting and praying for each other in trust groups, communities turned around by newfound economic growth. Witnessing such transformation has driven my mom’s dedication to Opportunity for 27 years and counting.
While my mom loves to tell me what to do (sorry Mom, it’s true), I have learned far more from observing how she treats others. Not only has she impacted lives across continents, but she has also opened up our family home to more people than I can count. She cares deeply for each visitor, student or intern that steps through our doors. Through her involvement with Opportunity, our family has come to know some of the most inspirational people you’ll ever meet.
This Mother’s Day, I am thankful for a mother whose heart is open to life’s greatest adventures and possibilities, and whose commitment towards serving others remains stronger than ever before.