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Genuine Support

Coming to college, I knew I would be entering a phase of my life where I’d be learning from some of the best individuals in their field. However, I never would’ve expected the greatest lessons to come from the friends I surround myself with. For me, joining Belles began as a way to be involved in the community and make a local impact. I never expected a Philanthropy based organization to introduce me to a group of women who would be my greatest support system, mentors, and friends.

The past year, I’ve tried to live my life following two mottos: 1) Be the person you needed when you were younger, and 2) Prioritize people over worries and material things. Belles is a constant reminder of these values. It continually impresses me how everyone in Belles devotes their time because they genuinely care about making a difference. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in college have sparked from Belles events that morphed into deeper conversations. I can’t express how much I appreciate the space I have found in Belles to make meaningful connections and engage in real life experiences.

When I look back at the past couple of years, I can see tangible moments where Belles has shaped me for the better. This organization continuously reminds me to go into my life with humility, gratitude, and confidence. At Share A Meal, I was humbled by the opportunity to go directly into the community and see exactly how homeless individuals were living their lives, cuddled up in tarps, so densely packed you would guess the bundle was a pile of trash not a person’s entire collection of material possessions. Being able to go directly into the community and have genuine interactions with others is what I cherish most. When I say I am reminded of humility, I mean nothing compares to the feeling post Reading to Kids when the shy 8 year old in the back, who didn’t want to speak up or raise her hand to answer the questions even though you could see that she knew every answer by the way she shifted in her chair, asks you to sit next to her for crafts. When it’s time to leave, and you slip away to the bathroom, the little girl, runs back, dragging her grandmother away from the walk home to give you a hug goodbye. In that moment, I realized if nothing else, my few hours there that Saturday made a difference to her. When I sat in Music Mends Minds, one older man began to tell me his life story, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of my grandfather. He had a sense of ease, and you could tell by the way that he spoke that time was not one of his concerns. He was just there to experience the present, spread some kindness, and talk to anyone who would listen. Moments like these constantly remind me that the greatest gift we can give someone else is often our full attention and time. When I say I was given confidence, I mean that after years of assuming I’d go into science because that's where the careers are, through this organization I began to listen to my own passions and interests.  When the speakers at Women’s Leadership Conference said to “follow your passion” and “art can be turned into a career”, I finally heard it. When I say I am grateful, I mean I have met friends who share and celebrate one anothers successes like each success is their own. There is nothing more refreshing and empowering than sharing your aspirations with a group of people who not only encourage you to push higher, but also remember, genuinely support you, and help along the way. There is no animosity or competition, just genuine support.

Kara Justeson

Philanthropy Distinguished Belle








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