The month of March is recognized as Women’s History Month and in honor of this, Favorite held an essay contest for employees to write about a phenomenal woman who inspires them. A panel of distinguished and award-winning judges was assembled to critique the submitted essays—Cara Owsley, Craig “the Writer” Stewart and Jenny Vincent. Upon receiving several entries, the judges narrowed it down to three winners. In this blog, we feature the essay of our first-place winner, Amanda Hoffman, who wrote about her daughter Avery.
Keep reading to see how Amanda has set an example for her daughter to give back to the community and be an advocate for social justice.
“Phenomenal Woman” by Amanda Hoffman
When we think of phenomenal women, our minds immediately gravitate to women who are world-renown, or famous in some capacity. Women who have blazed a new trail, broken-down barriers, or lived through tragedy and shared their truth. Women like Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks to name a few. These women, immensely strong, brave, courageous, and brilliantly inspiring. However, today I am going to tell you about someone else whose name you don’t know. Someone who is not even quite a woman yet but has the soul and spirit of a woman five times her age. My daughter, Avery Lou.
It’s quite unconventional and to some, may seem self-involved to write about my own child but it comes with good merit. Avery Louise Hoffman is, without a doubt in my mind or anyone around her, a phenomenal woman. From the time Avery was very young, it was clear she was different than those around her and not just children, but adults alike. Avery was passionate and invested in making a difference. She saw people, and not in the traditional sense. She truly saw people on a deep level. Avery felt their pain, their anguish, their suffering. She saw injustices in the world, and she wanted to do something about them. Avery has grown up in a house that doesn’t watch the news, so her draw to correct injustice wasn’t inspired by, or even amplified by, news reports or other media– it’s just who she was, and no one was going to stop or slow her down.
When Avery was five, I was running a non-profit that served families in need every Christmas. For her fifth birthday, she decided to forego traditional birthday presents in lieu of collecting donations for a non-profit called The Little Bit Foundation in St. Louis. The organization serves children living in poverty and focuses on barriers to education. We held a birthday party open to everyone and she requested guests bring donations including basic hygiene products, school supplies, and clothing. She collected a car’s load of donations that we delivered to the Foundation. It was that year that her desire and passion for advocacy grew tenfold.
For the last four years, Avery has utilized her birthday as a donation collecting mechanism to propel her philanthropic activism. She has raised money and gathered donations for children in need, environmental efforts, wildlife conservation, and this year she plans to collect for Ukrainian refugees. But her birthday efforts are just the tip of the iceberg with her. Two years ago, Avery decided to do a large food drive for the unhoused. Her efforts inspired family, friends, and neighbors to donate. In the end, she collected enough to fill our dining room full of food, all for a local food pantry and kitchen that serves the unhoused in St. Louis.
Each week, as Avery earns money from doing her chores, she splits her earnings into three buckets; share, save, and spend – in that order I might add. Share, save and then spend. Every time she reaches a round number such as $10, $20, or $30, she asks to donate the funds and picks an organization to support. Just last year, after driving around town and seeing litter all over the streets, she asked to adopt a road and clean it. So, we did… and we made sure her name was on the sign the county put up. I proudly drive by that sign regularly and without hesitation, strap on that orange vest and grab a bag to help her pick up trash.
Most recently, Avery has been spurred to action by the war in Ukraine. She donated money to UNICEF and Voices of Children, a non-profit in Ukraine helping refugees. She wrote a letter to President Biden including calls to action she felt would improve the situation and ease gas prices within the U.S. Avery made posters and hung a Sunflower in her bedroom window. She made a Ukrainian flag inspired wreath for our front door, and she marched with Ukrainian-Americans for peace. To say she has a good heart would be understating the true value of who she is and her actions. She has impacted and inspired everyone around her. Her passion and out-of-the-box mindset is truly admirable.
Avery recently wrote a poem that she turned into a video about the importance of women in present day, who are writing their own stories that will become history one day. Part of it read, “Women may be the hardest subject because no one wants to talk about them. The truth is the world couldn’t go on without us, but they don’t want us to know that.” Her ability to see and capture the minimalizing of women in society and in history, is profound. She certainly isn’t afraid to take a stand. As her favorite lines (pieced together) from her favorite musical Hamilton puts it, “There is suffering too terrible to name…the moments when you’re in too deep, it seems easier to just swim down…. but… if you stand for nothing, what’ll you fall for?”
At the young age of nine years old, Avery has brightened this world at every turn. She has inspired action in those around her. Whether it’s refugee support, living sustainably and promoting healthy environmental causes, feeding the unhoused, or providing educational resources to children in need, she has shown more maturity and comprehension of what is needed to evoke change than most adults. When I think about phenomenal women in history and present day, I see my daughter; a direct reflection of those who came before her and are fighting today. Those who paved the way for her to unabashedly be who she is without hesitation. Just as Maya Angelou describes in her poem, she may not fit in the standard box of womanhood, but she doesn’t have to shout, jump, or speak loudly – her actions make her phenomenal. A phenomenal woman and my inspiration.
About the Author
Amanda Hoffman serves as Vice President of Strategic Solutions at Favorite Healthcare Staffing. She is an award-winning sales leader in workforce solutions and staffing technology services. Amanda has a passion for service and spends time leading a local non-profit organization in her community. She has a strong passion for making a difference and has dedicated her career to the healthcare field. Amanda holds a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration and a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Criminology.