Sister Ashley Swogger – Grand Worthy Advisor 2021-2022

My name is Ashley Swogger, I am a member of Penn Valley Assembly No. 153, and I am honored to be Pennsylvania Rainbow’s Grand Worthy Advisor for 2021 to 2022.

Like many of you, I joined Rainbow at 12 years old. Although not involved with Rainbow from an early age, I grew up hearing all about it from my mother, Mrs. Diane Swogger, and grandmother, Mrs. Thelma Antis. Rainbow always sounded like a lot of fun, but I didn’t join until after meeting three Rainbow girls at church camp. From then on, my life was set on a different path. I joined my assembly a few months later in November of 2013. Since joining my assembly, I have had the opportunity to be Worthy Advisor three times. I have also had the honor and privilege to serve Pennsylvania Rainbow as Grand Representative to New Hampshire, Grand Religion, Grand Recorder, and most recently as Grand Charity.

Anyone who knows only a little bit about me knows I love math and reading, the first of which I am majoring in at Lebanon Valley College.  With my math degree, I hope to become a high school math teacher. When the world turned upside down in March of 2020, I turned to reading to fill the time I would normally spend with all of you at Rainbow events or my friends at school. Although reading is now a love of mine, it wasn’t always.

Fun fact, in elementary school, I struggled to learn how to read. Like many others, my reading journey included special reading groups and a few years of summer school. There were many times throughout my reading journey where I got frustrated, but my teachers persevered. By third grade, I caught up to my peers. One story that has always stuck with me after getting to the correct reading level is “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. This story features my favorite animal, a pig, and teaches beautiful lessons about helping others and the importance of friendship.

This year, our motto will be “Lend a Hand,” inspired by the helping hand that all the barn animals, even Templeton the rat, gave to Wilbur. The mascot will, of course, be a pig. The colors are “Pig Pink” and “Grass Green.” The charity I chose for this year, in addition to My Stuff Bags, is Children’s Literacy Initiative. This charity strives to close the literacy achievement gap between children in low-income homes and children in homes with more economic advantages. Unlike my experiences, many children do not have access to the resources in school needed to excel. Children’s Literacy Initiative helps provide necessary resources, including training for teachers and appropriate reading material. My symbols are Ferris wheels, hay bales, and blue prize ribbons. The song for the year is “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars. My flower is a white daisy, and the bible verse is Philippians 2:4, which states, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too.”

It is impossible to “Lend a Hand” if there is no one around, so to encourage membership this year, any girl who first line signs a petition or second line signs two petitions will receive a blue prize ribbon with her name on it. Any girl who first line signs two petitions will receive a small stuffed pig. Whoever signs the most petitions will receive a large stuffed pig with its very own prize ribbon.

There have been many people who have lent me a hand throughout my Rainbow journey, and for that, I would like to thank them. To the senior grand executives, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to lead Pennsylvania Rainbow and for being there to help me grow into the Rainbow girl I am today.

To my assembly, you have lent me a hand in every step of my Rainbow journey- from teaching me how to change into a gown in a moving vehicle, to helping me overcome my fears of messing up ritual. Because of the small size of our assembly, we have all become very close throughout the years. I am very grateful for that and the bond that we have with each other.

In addition to my assembly, I have to thank our Advisory Board. Thank you for always listening to any ideas we came up with and pushing us to get the most out of Rainbow that we can. And of course, thank you for always believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. One specific member of my amazing advisory board I would like to thank is Ms. Nikki Schaffer. As a past Grand Worthy Advisor, you have always answered any questions I have had and calm my nerves. Without you, I am not sure I would be standing here.

Thank you to my family and friends, especially those who are tuning in virtually, for always supported me. Although some of you may not fully understand Rainbow, you have always been there to cheer me on from the sidelines. If I ever need a laugh when times are stressful, I can always count on my family and friends to provide one for me.

A special shoutout to my parents, who have helped me realize and achieve my full potential. Thank you to my mom for helping me plan my term as Grand Worthy Advisor and to my dad for always being willing to help. Thank you to my sister for always listening to me talk about Rainbow, even though you were never a rainbow girl yourself.

There is one member of my family who is no longer with us that I would like to thank. My grandmother, or Mrs. A as she was known to many, impacted not only me, but generations of Rainbow girls. She pushed me and countless others to be the best versions of ourselves.

Mrs. Snedden, you are the heart of Pennsylvania Rainbow. You have lent each and every Rainbow girl a hand by being there for us. I can’t wait for our many adventures together this year.

Steffanie, our lives have always been connected since the moment I was born. Not only did you spend ten hours in a car to come to my initiation all those years ago, but you have always been there to “Spread Some Sunshine,” not only to myself but to all of Pennsylvania Rainbow. You have done amazing this past year, no matter what obstacles were thrown at you. I am so honored to follow you into the Grand East.

I am extremely excited for this year, and congratulations to the Grand Officers for the 2021 to 2022 term. I can’t wait to spend time with all of you and get to know you, hopefully in person sometime soon, but until then, I look forward to seeing you virtually.

And to all of Pennsylvania Rainbow, we have gotten through so much together. From virtual Grand Assemblies, to repeated fire alarms at Patton campus, even a pandemic that cannot bring us down. Let’s continue to “Lend a Hand” whenever we can, even with something as simple as holding a door for someone. I am excited for what this year will bring and hope each of you will be a part of the journey.

Respectfully Submitted,

Ashley Swogger

Grand Worthy Advisor, 2021-2022