Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), is a dynamic national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has over 190,000 members and over 6,500 chapters from 50 state associations, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The organization has involved more than 10 million youth since its founding in 1945. 

FCCLA is unique among youth organizations because its programs are planned and run by members. It is the only student organization with the family as its central focus.  Participation in national programs and chapter activities helps members become strong leaders in their families, careers, and communities.

About a year ago, my sister Mickell and I began a service project for FCCLA. My brother Eric serves on the flight crew of a C-17 in the United States Air Force, and one of the things he does is transport injured soldiers to a hospital in Germany. We were doing some research about it and found out there is a charity group for the hospital called the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, and they have a group called “Stitches of Love.”

We learned they were in need of comfort pillows for the wounded military men and women, so we decided to make 50 pillows to send. We knew we were going to need help with getting fabric and stuffing for the pillows, so we advertised around town and on social networks online. We were amazed at the response, as we received several bags of fabric and stuffing for the pillows, and cash donations to help with shipping costs.

We noticed earlier the group was also asking for Christmas stockings as well as the pillows, but we didn’t consider those as an option. However, as we were going through the fabric, we discovered a bag of Christmas fabric. We decided to make the Christmas stockings along with the pillows. Over the next five months, we completed and sent 30 Christmas stockings to a field hospital in Afghanistan, and made and sent 50 pillows to Germany to the military hospital.  It felt good to give something back to the brave men and women of our military who sacrifice so much for us.

For our FCCLA Star Event, we completed a scrapbook of our project and prepared an oral presentation. We first competed at the region level, winning gold.  We next competed at State FCCLA and received gold medals. We were also named the state first place winners.

We had the opportunity this month to represent Valley High School, Kane School District and the state of Utah by competing at FCCLA Nationals in Orlando, Florida. We appreciate so very much the amazing people who made it possible for us to go to. We could not have done it without your support.

The theme for this year’s annual national meeting was “realitycheck” with over 6,800 members in attendance.  It was an amazing week. We decided to make the very most of our experience, and attended all the meetings, exhibits and workshops, as well as competing in our Star Event. One workshop was on being a difference maker, and another was on learning how to live, laugh and be a leader. 

During the opening and closing general sessions, there was so much positive energy in a room filled with nearly 7,000 FCCLA members and advisors.  We had the opportunity to hear from John White, the U.S. Department of Education’s deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach. He said FCCLA is modeling how to close the skills gap with well-rounded education. 

We also heard a very dynamic address from John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. Bryant also serves President Obama on the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, and as President George W. Bush’s vice chairman of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.  He said he had come prepared to teach us, but we had actually taught him. He got emotional and said he has hope for the future of our country because of the caliber of young people he saw involved with FCCLA. He was powerful in encouraging us as young leaders to return to our schools and communities and help encourage others to make a difference.

FCCLA is very service oriented.  It was amazing to see all the service projects done by chapters all over the country. A donation of $37,488.71 was presented to Share Our Strength from National FCCLA to fight childhood hunger. In addition, over 15,000 pairs of shoes were collected to benefit Soles4Souls.

We had the opportunity to meet other FCCLA members from all over the country, and enjoyed some fun days at Disney World and Universal Studios. Harry Potter Land was definitely my favorite! It was awesome! On the closing night, we had a great time at the gala. There were bands, dance clubs, food, and I had the opportunity to make my Florida experience complete by holding a real live gator!

The last morning of our week was the recognition session. It was exciting as we heard them announce: Valley High School from Utah – gold!  It was a great feeling to walk across the stage and receive gold medals for Valley High School and Utah!

FCCLA is one of the best organizations you could be involved in during high school. Thank you once again to the generous people who helped with donations for the project and to those who helped make the trip possible!