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Mary Grace's Story
Hi, I'm glad you are visiting my website.
I'm Mary Grace, founder of Reverse The Course; it is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Foundation. If you have a minute, I'll tell you my story.
I am like a lot of girls. I have a brother and sister and am lucky enough to live in a nice house and go to a great school. I am also like lots of kids who do volunteer work through their school or church or with their family. Only I wanted to do something that made more of a difference. I wanted to change one person’s life somewhere in the world. I just did not know how to do it.
In May 2009, when I was 12, my mom, Grammy and I went to New York City and took a headband-making class. It was a lot of feathers and not really my thing, but little did I know it was the first piece of the puzzle. As we left the class, I saw a wall of beautiful ribbons; I wished we had done something using all the colors and patterns. Later in the summer, my mom and I were in a store, and saw a headband that was advertised as “reversible,” but it was complicated and hard to change. I told my mom I could make a better one, and she laughed and said, “If you could sew.” We left the store, but the idea stuck in my head.
That September, I asked for an early birthday present: a sewing machine. My mom said our family only knew how to sew wobbly buttons and dad said something like “we’ll see,” which is grown-up speak for “this will go away by tomorrow if we ignore it.” But I just kept asking. Finally, my mom asked what I thought I would do with a sewing machine. I told her I was going to start a business so I could help a girl go to school. Now, I don’t mean to say that mom and dad weren’t enthusiastic (see later in story) but, honestly, my announcement was met with near silence and, I think, a raised eyebrow. We then had to have a family conference. You know the drill: the adults gather around the table, and the kid squirms in the chair while being peppered with a million adult questions. Yep, one of those.....but I got the sewing machine!
And then I was on the hot seat again because I had to learn to sew. So I got some thread, some ribbon, and had a 30-minute lesson. It was a good thing that I got a seam ripper, too. I did more ripping than sewing for the first month, and it took me weeks to make my first fairly straight, almost decent headband. But the good news was that all that time spent ripping out my mistakes was time when I could think about who I would help.
By the end of October, I had 50 reversible headbands and a plan. I would use money from selling the headbands to change the life of one girl -- a girl who wanted to go to school but couldn’t, one girl who was viewed as less important than her brother, one girl whose chances were almost zero. I wanted it to be a girl in a place where just going to school would forever change her life and maybe her family and community, too. So I took my headbands to school, and they decided to see if they would sell in the bookstore.
Reverse The Course was born! My reversible headbands would reverse the course of a girl’s life by helping her attend school.
Then something wonderful happened; girls and moms saw the headbands and really liked them. They thought it was cool that they could get two headbands for the price of one but, mostly, they liked knowing they were helping someone, too. They bought them and sometimes they bought more than one and they bought them for gifts. So now I had a company that could make hair accessories that people liked, and I could use the profits from those sales to help girls.
Fast forward to May 2010. I sent my first check to a school in Uganda, and two girls found out they would be able to attend high school. (My mom cried.) Fast forward to 2012...there are 18 girls who've received the gift of education, many for multiple years -- in fact 37, RTC has funded 37 years worth of school for those 18 girls.
One person really, really can make a difference -- but this is about so much more than one person. This is about lots of people, especially girls, who want to make a difference. Pretty amazing teamwork!