When Gracie Ann Finley was installed as the Grand Worthy Advisor for the 83rd Grand Session of the Grand Assembly of the International Order of the Rainbow Girls of North Carolina on June 25, 2019, one of the first people she thought of was her grandmother.
It was after her grandmother passed away from Ovarian Cancer, that Finley focused so much of her time in the organization to begin with. She says it wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to become more involved, but rather, a way for her to be closer to the spirit of her grandmother, who along with her grandfather, was active in the Order of the Eastern Star. Their work inspired her to join the Rainbow Girls of North Carolina in the first place.
The thought of being chosen as Grand Worthy Advisor came as somewhat of a surprise to Finley, who is 20 years old and in her last year in the organization. Sure, she had worked hard, but she thought her last job would be as Recorder.
But her Hillsborough Advisory Board saw the hard work Finley had put in with the organization, and nominated her for Grand Worthy Advisor.
Following her nomination, the State Executive Committee voted on the nominees and Finley heard her name called for the prestigious role. The shock that she immediately felt quickly turned to excitement. She thought about her grandmother as she made her acceptance speech.
“I think she would be so happy because she and my grandpa served as the same thing for the Eastern Star,” Finley said. “I just feel like she would be proud, I said that in my acceptance speech. If she could be here, I feel like she would be really proud.”
The role of Grand Worthy Advisor requires a two-year commitment, with the nominee serving as Grand Worthy Associate during the first year, which Finley did in 2018. During that time she mapped out her plan for her year as Grand Worthy Advisor, scheduling service projects that closely affected her.
Two of the projects she planned to have the organization participant in were the Susan G. Komen Walk & 5K Run “Race for the Cure,” and the Gail Perkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk & 5K Run, according to the release sent out by Jane Fusco, Grand Recorder for the Grand Assembly of North Carolina International Order of the Rainbow for Girls.
The projects were to honor her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor, and her grandmother.
Those weren’t the only activities Finley planned.
She also scheduled volunteers to go Christmas Caroling with fruit baskets to a retirement home for the organization’s sponsors in Greensboro and organized a fundraiser to paint and sell teal and pink cowboy boots to collect funds for Ovarian and Breast Cancer. One of the locations where these boots will be sold is Cup A Joe in Hillsborough.
Now that she’s gotten all the planning out of the way Finley says the start of her time as Grand Worthy Advisor hasn’t been difficult.
“This year it’s actually been really easy because everything I planned is just unraveling,” Finley said. “This year is just a matter of keeping in communication with your officers and making sure events go right.”
Although this is Finley’s 10th and final year with the Rainbow Girls of North Carolina, the organization has taught her valuable skills, ones she will hold onto for many years. It’s also provided her a way to feel close with her grandmother.
As she continues in her second year of an Associate in Arts business program at Durham Technical Community College, Finley reflected on how her work with the Rainbow Girls of North Carolina will help her in the next chapter of her life.
“When I got to high school, I knew so many people in the community that a lot of people my age didn’t know,” Finley said. “I’ve had people to call on when I’ve needed a reference. I know what’s going on and where to be. I know a lot of people now and I’m always going to be a big part of my community. I always want to help out.”
Not only has Finley helped others in her community through her service, but she’s become a leader who others can look to, while carrying on her grandmother’s legacy with pride.