Jenna Bush Hager speaks to STAR, Inc.'s luncheon
Even a small act is an investment into bettering society was the take-away message from Jenna Bush Hager's speech at the Star Inc.'s first speakers luncheon series at the Woodway Country Club on Thursday, April 4.
Star Inc., Lighting the Way is a local not-for-profit organization that helps individuals with developmental disabilities and provides support services for their families.
The event, which 300 people attended, raised a net of more than $60,000, according to Megan Johnson, the STAR development associate.
Bush Hager, who is nine months pregnant, met with members of Star before the luncheon.
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She spoke of Hope, a kindergarten student who loves to read "Cinderella," her favorite book.
"She now can read and write at a kindergarten level with the help of the Star program," Bush Hager said.
"You can tell Star changes lives by meeting the families and the kids it affects."
Before jumping into the work that Bush Hager has done and continues to do, she updated the crowd on her family in the "promise land" of Texas, where her parents have gone from talking about international policies to domestic issues.
"Now, my mother is commanding the ex-commander-in-chief to pick up his dirty towels and underwear off the floor," Bush Hager said.
During her grandfather George H. W. Bush's and father George W. Bush's presidencies, she and her sister, Barbara, traveled the world and met all walks of life.
"The more we got to know about the plight of people, the more we learned we can be able to help them," Bush Hager said.
In 2006, Bush Hager went to Latin America as a UNICEF intern, where she met Ana, a 17-year-old mother with HIV. Ana's story was the inspiration for Bush Hager's New York Times best seller, "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope."
Ana, who knew that she had HIV when she was little, dropped out of school when she was 16 to give birth to her daughter, Beatrice.
During a conference about HIV/AIDS that Bush Hager was attending, Ana stood up with Beatrice in her arms and "gracefully" took the microphone to speak.
"It wasn't a Kanye West kind of thing," Bush Hager said. What Ana said struck a chord with Bush Hager.
"We are living with HIV, we are not dying with it," Ana had said. From then on, Bush Hager met with Ana daily for the next nine months.
When Ana found out that she was pregnant, she "did everything she could to do avoid giving her HIV away," Bush Hager said, adding that mother-to-child HIV transition is 99.9 percent avoidable.
During a short question-and-answer segment after her speech, lead by Sharon Crowley, a local broadcast journalist, Bush Hager very quickly said she and her sister would not run for public office.
"Ironically, my sister and I are not interested in American politics, but we are interested in international policies," Bush Hager said.
She also added that she was excited to be a first-time mom.
"In this world of Kardashians, you cannot know what you mean to a grandmother," a woman said before Bush Hager finished answering questions.
"That's sweet," Bush Hager said while laughing. "I don't even know where to go with that."