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Power Portrait

Her name is

Her power is

a “Can-Do” Attitude

Faith Avner

“I truly believe anyone can do or learn anything. It is up to the teacher to find the way for the student to learn.”

Faith is a seasoned mentor for young Jewish children, on both local and international levels. With over 48 years of teaching to draw from, writing a book is her ultimate dream. She believes that while there is only one of her, a book would have the potential to be translated, discussed, and available to an exponential amount of students.

“I want to share [what I know] with a lot of people, and I think writing a book is one of the best ways to do it.”

Faith humbly shares one of her favorite teaching moments with us in the studio, recalling her visit to the town of Mbale in Uganda, and the Abayudaya community – the Jews of Africa. During five days with no electricity or running water, Faith’s inspiration, personal donations, and can-do spirit helped to build two schools and establish on-going education and fundraising opportunities. “I’m really just a small piece of the support they receive,” Faith says of her contributions, “but I am excited to be a part of the process.”

Since planting that seed, Faith has maintained long-lasting relationships with the Mbale children, and has since kept in contact with the community to monitor their growth. Faith loves receiving news of their progress through letters and Jewish camp visitations; she sends care packages whenever possible to help the students retain access to materials.

After her reflections, Faith checks in with her present thoughts:

“People tell me that I’m strong. People tell me that I do amazing things. I don’t really see myself that way – I still feel like there’s so much I’ve not accomplished.”

This is how she views her work and her time – as shareable and growable entities. To Faith, accomplishing her lifelong goal would feel supremely validating. The stories, the words — they’ve always been in her mind. Waiting to be let out. The hardest part, she says, is talking herself into finishing it. She playfully adds, “You know the joke, ‘Look! My name’s in the white pages! I’m for real!’ It’s a Steve Martin joke from one of his movies. When you’re published, when you’re written, it validates you.”

Despite not feeling wholly validated, Faith admits what swayed her to say “yes” to the Power Portraits: the potential to see herself through others. She points inwardly, her eyes smiling beyond her long lashes, remembering her intentions for walking into the studio, hoping that if she could see it, she could believe it. A dawning emerges on her face as she realizes a connection:

“I’m beginning to see power in myself. I thought if I went through this experience, and could visualize myself through other people’s eyes, I could buy into that.”

It is a credit to Faith that even with so much to give, she is so willing to learn. Adding to adventures while in her 60s, Faith has enrolled in a ballet program – taught by a professional ballerina who is ten years her senior. Faith says the beauty and discipline of ballet has always inspired her. “I am as klutzy as can be, but I show up each week for my private lessons. Spoiler alert: so much harder than in looks!”

When asked how she overcame her inhibitions to owning her power, without having yet completed the thing that she feels would validate her most, Faith replies, “I realized I just have to show up and be the real me… and that’s kind of liberating. It’s like… okay… let’s just see who I am. And it’s probably okay. Oh, what fun it will be to find the real me.”

Faith, you’re more than okay. You are your story… and we’d buy a million copies of that.

written by SpiderMeka

& Taylor Imel

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