Enjoy this unique perspective as Junior Board graduate Sophia Vander Kooy encourages our high school seniors to continue the JMF butterfly effect while reflecting on her first year beyond high school.

Dear 2017 Junior Board Seniors,

I write to you with no distinguished credentials, but I hope my words warm your hearts and turn your smiles up to the sun as I take a moment to thank you, celebrate you and, send you forth to the incredible opportunities that lay out before you. I graduated my dear alma mater, Brebeuf Jesuit, last spring. I cannot promise that what I have to say is full of wisdom or intellect; it takes more than a year in college to gain those types of things. However, a year has given me time to reflect and with that, I hope to stir something inside of you that sends you forth with an eagerness to continue standing with those of us not always seen in full color by the society around us.

My journey has taken me to Hope College in Holland, Michigan where I have spent the past year learning, growing, running, and doing my best to apply the lessons I learned at the Joseph Maley Foundation to the world around me. With each turn of my journey, , I find myself exceedingly grateful for the places I have waved goodbye to. For I have realized that moving forward does not mean moving on and walking out of your last Junior Board meeting does not close the door to JMF. Graduation is a launch pad so, dear friends, I hope you leap with all your might and spread your wings to the opportunities ahead just like the butterflies that surround JMF.

My years as a member of the Junior Board are filled with butterfly moments. Times,places, and people that showed me what a simple and challenging but always fulfilling journey “serving children of all abilities” can be. I was lucky enough to know Joseph Maley and his butterfly spirit that inspired all that is JMF. This spirit blooms through each memory I hold of Joseph. I see Joseph’s spirit in the children of all abilities who are served and nourished through JMF’s seven programs. I see it in their families through the warmth that sparks in their hearts knowing that there are people in this world passionately advocating for their loved ones. I see it in each one of you and the hundreds of volunteers that live changed due to their participation in such incredible experiences. I see all of this and I know with certainty that Joseph’s spirit is alive.

The Butterfly Effect theory, coined by Edward Lurenz, holds evidence for the idea that small, everyday actions can have a colossal impact on our world. Each of you will give a wave to your days on Junior Board and high school to go forth to spread your own wings and continue the JMF Butterfly Effect. And in the parting, I can guarantee, you will discover some of life’s greatest treasures. As you move on from high school, as you succeed and fail, as you change addresses and friends, you will find that the glistening gold parts of life are the opportunities you have to connect memories of the past to what is in front of you. You have done so many wonderful things Thank you for being everything you have been and good luck. Leap with the confidence that you have a community when you fall and a community to applaud you as you move mountains toward a better world. I am filled to the brim with excitement to see all the places you will fly.

Post written by:

Sophia Vander Kooy

Brebeuf Jesuit Class of 2016

Hope College Class of 2020