|Anjanette White, founder of Precious Rubies, leads girls in the Rubies motto during the third Precious Rubies Conference last April. The fourth conference will be April 26, 2014 in Matteson, Ill. For more information on Precious Rubies go to www.preciousrubiesfoundation.org.|
In front of the girls, Anjanette White raises her hand.
“Ladies!” she calls out to the girls assembled.
“That’s me!” they reply in unison.
It is the mantra of the Precious Rubies Foundation, an organization started by White eight years ago to help girls and young women know their self worth.
You grow up—from baby to toddler to child to teenager— and become a woman physically. You choose to be a lady.
“A lady knows her worth,” White tells the young women assembled for the third annual Precious Rubies conference. “A lady demands respect.”
White, a licensed hairstylist, has seen too many young ladies who don’t know their worth and suffer from low self-esteem. She can relate because she once suffered from the same condition.
“My low self-esteem started when I was younger and comparing myself to my sister and brother,” White said. They had almond-shaped eyes. Her eyes were round. They were a lighter complexion. She was darker. When she became a teenager, a guy told her that she had puppy dog, sad, droopy eyes. Growing up, people teased her about being skinny.
She started hiding behind her glasses to hide her eyes. She bought a size 8 although she was just a size 2 so people would think she was bigger. Because she didn’t know her worth, she accepted anything from her boyfriend and tried to become what her boyfriend wanted.
“Anything he said or did I took because of my low-self esteem, because I didn’t know my worth,” she said.
Her mother noticed her downward spiral and tried to talk to her and prayed for her. One day, her mother said, “Anjanette you need to pray.”
“She looked at me very intensely. When she said that to me it was like my spirit understood,” White said. Because her mother, who passed away in 2000, introduced her to God at a young age, White went back to God and asked him to heal her. He healed her from the inside out. She found that she was precious and beautiful in His eyes. As she began to heal, God began to speak to her about others and she heard God saying, “Now what, Anjanette?”
“I looked at girls cutting themselves, drinking, dressing provocatively and I began to know what God was talking about. A lot of preachers, teachers and parents are talking about the kids. But who’s actually doing something with the kids? That was my cue to say don’t talk about them, be about them.”
White had her first Precious Rubies meeting at a local library in 2005. The response was phenomenal.
“People started to support me, encourage me and pray for me,” White said. She knew she wanted to do more, but she didn’t know where to start until one day she received an ad in the mail about business school.
White, who had a degree in business management from Robert Morris College in Chicago and also worked as a youth leader at her church, went back to school and earned a certificate of completion in entrepreneurship at the Joseph Business School in Forest Park, Ill. She made plans to expand Precious Rubies and officially organized the foundation in 2007.
In 2011 she held the first Precious Rubies Conference. From 80 to 100 girls from the ages of 11 to 18 attend the conference every year. Every year White has different topics, speakers, classes, prizes and activities.
The conferences are free and White has paid for most of the expenses for Precious Rubies out of her own pocket, with the support of family and friends who have donated money, food and time.
The response from the girls is what keeps her motivated.
I attended your program in April and it’s August and I’m still thinking about it. I was in a very dark place at the time and when I left that building I was not the same. I have a whole new outlook on life and I have to thank Precious Rubies for that!
White offers the Precious Rubies program to schools, churches and community organizations. Every Monday, White meets during the lunch period with a group of girls at a local middle school. The school has invited White and Precious Rubies into the school to mentor young ladies who the principal, social worker and dean of students believe will benefit from the program.
White deals with different topics from bullying and friendships to suicide. But “self worth, respect and being a lady, those are automatic,” White said.
White and up to 50 girls have a dialogue, watch movies, do skits and play games to get the point across.
“I never want to just hit it and quit it,” White said. “I want to make sure they understand the point.”
And what is the point. Self-worth.
“If we can instill that in our young ladies now, they won’t accept abuse and neglect,” White said. “We don’t know our worth. That’s why men can say anything to us. The Enemy can come in and tell us to do all these crazy things because we don’t know our self worth. As you know better, you will choose better and do better.”
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