Even a small act is an investment into bettering society was the take-away message from Jenna Bush Hager's speech at Star Inc.'s speakers luncheon series at the Woodway Country Club in Darien on Thursday, April 4.
Star Inc., Lighting the Way is a Norwalk-based not-for-profit organization that helps individuals with developmental disabilities and provides support services for their families.
Bush Hager, who is nine months pregnant, met with members of Star before the luncheon.
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 "promised 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.
"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 bestseller, "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. 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, led by local broadcast journalist Sharon Crowley, 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.