“I love the Personal Progress program. I have learned to do things I never knew I could,” says Mindy Sutton of the Twenty Wells Ward. Mindy believed a choir experience would help the youth in her Grantsville Utah Stake feel the Spirit in their lives, and Mindy needed a Laurel project. So she organized and directed a choir for stake Standards Night.
But the task wasn’t easy. Mindy says although she loves music, she has no natural ability. In fact, she was very discouraged after the first practice. “It was so hard to be in front of my peers trying to tell them what to do. But my stake leaders encouraged me to pray for help and promised the Lord would bless me.”
She went home and fasted and prayed. Her prayers were answered when the choir’s outstanding performance two months later not only brought the Spirit into the choir members’ lives but inspired those in attendance.
“I feel a lot closer to my Heavenly Father and know He has helped me so much,” Mindy says.
Laurels around the world perform projects based on the Young Women values to bless the lives of givers and receivers. But it is often difficult to think of a project that really makes a difference. Several Laurels have taken the Young Women value projects seriously and met that challenge. Inside each of them is a desire to learn to do new things, reach out to others, and draw closer to Heavenly Father.
I will have faith in God’s eternal plan.
Getting up at 4:30 A.M. on Thursday mornings became an ordinary part of Camie Brasher’s week during her high school years. She decided to do baptisms for the dead, usually enlisting two or three friends in her Holladay 14th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake, to go with her.
The weekly treks to the Salt Lake Temple were soon life changing for Camie. “It was amazing how Thursdays were so much better than other days,” she recalls. “I loved feeling the peace of the temple and felt very close to the people I was baptized for. Now I definitely want to be married there.”
I have inherited divine qualities.
Turning the hearts of the children to their fathers isn’t just a gospel principle for Mandee Herzog of the Palmhurst Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Redrock Stake, who created a beautiful five-generation quilt.
“I wanted to make a tangible family heirloom that would teach my future children about their heritage,” she says.
I am a person of infinite worth.
Shayla Skinner has discovered “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10).
Shayla helped plan and coordinate the “Buddy Bear” project for nearly 60 participants. The bears will be used by area police, highway patrol officers, emergency medical services, and fire departments to comfort and calm children in crisis.
“These bears were made with love and will help the children know God loves them,” she says of the 100 stuffed bears her Wichita Kansas Stake Young Women made.
I will seek learning and growth.
Jillayne Cozzens’s value project makes baptisms even more special for girls turning eight in the Moab Utah Stake.
“I was taking a sewing class and wanted to do something for a value project. So my mom and I put two different patterns together and designed a frilly jumpsuit for the girls to wear. I made four outfits over the next month,” she says.
Soon afterward, a friend’s niece was baptized in one of the outfits. “She was so excited to have something feminine to wear that didn’t float up,” Jillayne says. “Value projects are really cool. I have done five of them and learned so much.”
I will choose good over evil and accept responsibility for my choices.
Even though Carrie Peters of the Newport-Gwent Ward, Cardiff Wales Stake, has struggled with poor health, she chose to use her projects to develop her abilities and the talents of others.
Carrie organized a ward entertainment night, attended by more than 100 people. The event turned out to be such a great missionary tool that she organized a show for the Tregwillym Lodge elderly home the next year.
Her performers delighted listeners with Broadway songs and ended the program with the hymn “I Believe in Christ” (Hymns, no 134). Carrie’s living testimony of this song touched many hearts that night. She had just been discharged from the hospital 48 hours before the performance. It’s no surprise Carrie has since been called as her ward’s cultural arts specialist.
I will find joy in service.
Patti Zenger, a member of the Beacon Hill Ward, Beaverton Oregon West Stake, will never forget September 26, 1998.
Patti, partially blind from diabetes, had no idea that Laura Schulthies had organized their ward to “Walk for Patti Z.” in the Vancouver, Washington, 10K fund-raiser.
When Patti got to the church, everyone was wearing red, her favorite color, and had “Patti, We All Love You” signs pinned on them.
“It was so exciting to watch Patti realize how many ward members supported her. Ours was the largest group there,” Laura recalls.
I will have moral courage.
President James E. Faust, in his address of the Young Women general meeting in March, warned, “You young ladies may have a hard time buying a modest prom dress. May I suggest that you make your own?” (Ensign, May 2000, 97).
This is exactly what happened in the Salt Lake Stake.
To encourage the young women to dress modestly, the stake Young Women leaders decided to include a fashion show in a special night for Laurels and their dads, brothers, or other priesthood holders.
“It was a lot of hard work to adjust the pattern to cover my shoulders,” says Elaine Barnhurst of the 19th Ward, whose project was to make her medieval-style dress from a sheet and curtains. “But it was a fun night and really cool to know I had actually made it myself.”
Value projects give young women the world over a chance to fashion a goal that will improve their own lives and those of others.
“We want the girls to choose something they want to do and then fit it into the Young Women values,” says Sister Carol Thomas, first counselor in the general Young Women presidency. “From homemaking or job opportunities to missionary work and service, we want to help our young women become prepared for whatever their future brings.”
But for a project to be meaningful, Laurels are admonished to first consider what they want to have happen and then pray for guidance and listen to the prompting of the Spirit. Laurels who follow these steps will be inspired to choose a project that will help them draw closer to the Savior, live gospel principles, serve others, and develop skills and abilities.
Nicole Young listened to the Spirit, which guided her to play the piano for the mentally challenged at the Denton State School in Texas. Her weekly concerts led to a recital that raised nearly $3,000 for the school.
“I will always remember that night because it brought the community together,” says Nicole.
At least one of the two yearly projects—requiring a minimum of 20 to 30 hours each—needs to focus on service. Such projects not only help others but also give young women the opportunity to develop organizational and leadership abilities.
“The basic element which should never change in the lives of righteous young women is giving service to others. Their divine role as caregivers helps noble womanhood gain ‘the highest place of honor in human life,’” President Faust said (Ensign, May 2000, 96).
“As a Laurel, we hope you are becoming a noble young woman of faith,” says Sister Margaret Nadauld, Young Women general president.
“This is a time when you will be making major decisions about your future. Because you are developing more independence, you will be designing your own value projects, fostering personal growth, and giving service to others. We pray the Lord will bless you in your valiant efforts to prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple.”
Directing choirs, doing temple work, serving others, making quilts or prom dresses—all value projects share one common thread: they bring out the best in each young woman. And that is what the projects are all about.
Don’t forget to pray. Ask for guidance as you choose, plan, and carry out your project.
Choose a value. Pick a Young Women value you want to understand better or practice living.
Determine your goals. Ask what you want to have happen; then formulate your goals around the answer.
Make your plan. Pick a project that will help you reach your goals. Share your proposed plan with your parents, Young Women leader, and anyone whose permission is needed to carry out the project. Obtain signatures on the project form before you begin.
Carry out your project. Make a list of everything you need to do, including how you will present your project, to whom, and where. Assign completion dates.
Evaluate. How well did you increase your understanding of the value? Did you reach your goals? What went well? What would you change? What did you learn? What feelings did you experience?
Create a memory. Leave your thoughts in a scrapbook or your journal, along with a few photos if possible, as a happy reminder of your accomplishment.
Realizing “every member is a missionary,” arrange for recently returned missionaries to give you and others the six discussions. Record your feelings in your journal.
Organize a ward choir or teach a hymn to a group and perform it in sacrament meeting.
Organize and conduct a leadership training program on using agendas, conducting, delegating, and leading music.
Take over household chores or child care for a sick parent.
Learn photography and make a poster or scrapbook of your work.
Learn dog obedience training and make a video showing your accomplishment with your dog.
Plan, organize, and direct a New Beginnings program for your ward.
Write a three-act play or a collection of poetry or short stories and perform or make a scrapbook of your creation.
Learn to cook and start a recipe file of your own.
Make a plan and budget for redecorating your bedroom.
Plan invitations, activities, and treats for a family reunion.
Create, print, and distribute a neighborhood or ward directory.
Organize, label, and date family photos for an album.
Outline and begin writing your life story, including general information and memories.
Organize dance lessons, sports camps, piano lessons, or other learning activities for abused or disadvantaged children.
Determine needs of young women in other parts of the world and organize a project to help them.
Organize and direct a service project or serve as a volunteer.