jill herndon

Similar story here — with high drama. I worked for Eunice Kennedy Shriver in her ground breaking summer camp for special ed children at a time when many if not most opportunities were closed to them. Some of us went on a spontaneous visit to the White House with her. We had had diner on the PT 109 on the Potomac as our “pay” for the summer volunteer work. Eunice decided to drop in on JFK and took us with her. He came to meet us and take us up to his private library. He said a few inspirational things. Late the winter after he had been shot, I ran into Eunice. I had an assignment to talk about my summer work with her and recruit more High School students to join us. That half hour with a grieving and pregnant Eunice re-affirmed JFK’s message, and again hammered home the “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.” Eunice made this even more important by focusing on how a woman could do it, and counseled me in the importance of getting into a policy position to have more influence on how things run. It was 1963-4 and few women were in policy positions. We were tracked into direct social services — also worthwhile but not nationally pivotal.