For Rock Island High School’s Jasmine Babers, Monday morning was anything but ordinary.
“I was shocked, and oh my gosh, when they came in I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to react,” said Babers.
That’s because Royal Neighbors of America surprised Babers and her staff with a check for $10,000 to keep their magazine — Love, Girls — going.
“What’s so fantastic is here you have a junior in high school who has the vision to want to help girls and women get to a better place in their lives, to talk about issues that are important to them, some fun things but also some very serious topics,” said Cynthia Tidwell, President and CEO of Royal Neighbors of America.
“We love that entrepreneurial spirit and vision that Jasmine brings,” said Tidwell.
The award was part of Royal Neighbors’ Nation of Neighbors program. Over the past five years, the program has given more than a million dollars to help cover projects that empower women.
Babers started the self-esteem magazine last year, and January will mark its fifth issue. The group meets every Monday at the Martin Luther King Center and puts together the final product from Babers’ house. The “love” in the title stands for lead, overcome, value and empower — something they’re helping young girls do.
“I think that every girl has so much more in them than they originally think that they do,” said Babers.
“Everyone needs inspiration throughout their lives, because sometimes people might feel down or not feel as confident as they should be, and so this magazine helps empower young girls,” explained Kianna Jones and Desirae Reading. Jones and Reading are two of the magazine’s “Signature Girls,” or writers.
So far, Love, Girls has been funded by fashion shows and car washes. Now, Babers and her staff of 15 girls plan to invest the money in the magazine and possibly take a little trip to celebrate.
“We honestly thought we were all in trouble. I thought, ‘Why do I have a pass?’ and then we get in the main office, and they said, ‘Get the suspension papers ready.’ I’m like, ‘They’re kidding, we didn’t do anything that bad,'” laughed Jones.
All in all, not bad for a Monday morning.
“I seriously didn’t expect it, I thought this was a regular Monday. This is probably the best Monday I’ve ever had,” said Babers.