Anna Beth Mecham appears to be simply a petite, bubbly, grandmother. If you were to read her warning label, however, it would say, “Danger! Firecracker with untold impact in sparking wildfires.” In short, any contact or connection you have with her could sweep you into the path of her fiery determination and ignite desires to make a powerful impact in the world.
She didn’t immediately warm up to idea of being featured in our newsletter as an example of the model of powerful impact. She didn’t want to be perceived as bragging or taking credit for what many others have contributed toward the accomplishments in her family, community, and beyond.
To find out what sparked her desire to serve and create lasting solutions, let’s go back to her roots. She grew up on a fruit farm in Pleasant Grove, Utah, the fourth of nine children. She exclaimed, “Talk about learning cooperation when you only have one bathroom and an outhouse for 11 people!”
She helped harvest and fill hundreds of bottles with fruit and vegetables each year which instilled in her a good work ethic and taught her the satisfaction of getting things done. She singled out one experience when, in her words, “the spark was fired.” The family’s crops froze two years in a row along with their income. Their local church congregation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came to the rescue. Anna Beth said the leader of the women’s organization of their church came to their home and “measured our little feet so we could have shoes. My father was terribly embarrassed but would go and be a janitor at our church house at this time. I think that one incident made me have a desire to help others …”
And help others she did! As she grew up, life experiences added kindling to that childhood spark. She married LaMar Mecham, and they settled in Magna, Utah. He is her number one supporter and partner in making a difference for good. He was once named the Volunteer Citizen of the Year by the Magna Area Council.
Early on, when she attended a Right to Life meeting, she “saw first-hand what a ripple effect one person could have. That really widened a circle of impact for me. I learned how important it is to stand up for what you believe. I attended many meetings with my first baby.”
They loved Magna, but she noted there were a few things not available in the community that her family needed and wanted. The flame burst forth! She jumped in and headed a task force to get a community swimming pool, helped create a local arts council which sponsored local art contests, the Miss Magna Pageant, literary contests, and Music in the Park concerts. With six children, she was always involved in PTA. She served a 4-year term on the Magna Town Council and has been on both the Magna Ethnic and Mining Museum Board, and the Cyprus Community Recreation Board for more than a decade and counting.
She remembered the spark created by members of her church. This memory and her faith have paid it forward by serving there in Cub Scouts, organizations for children and young women, and currently as a volunteer at their Oquirrh Mountain Temple.
I have watched and admired Anna Beth for years. When we were looking for “local influencers” to boost participation in the National Day of Service in September, held in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I knew one of them had to be Anna Beth. Her response was heart-warming. She immediately chose to work on an ambitious project to clean up a 5-acre property for the Buddhist Wat Laos Temple. Being the firecracker she is, she didn’t just agree to help, she attended meetings to plan the huge project and recruited many friends and neighbors to help. She also met and made a new friend of their pastor, Ajahn Neth.
In addition, she offered her home as a drop-off point for those donating quilts and clothing for refugees, school children, and at-risk mothers. I don’t know if she personally made any of these items, but she lit a fire under her neighbors and friends and gathered a huge collection of donations. She marveled at the donors’ generosity. There is another chapter to this story. Anna Beth volunteered at the temple that morning and came home to find the mound of items on her porch. She gathered them up and took them to the drop off location, only to discover she had misread the collection hours. She had missed the deadline. By the time this was reported to the organizing committee, Anna Beth had already found a local agency in Magna that eagerly accepted every item to be used right in her own community. She is a fire that can’t be quenched!
The fire, fortunately, has spread to her family. Her children are her inspiration for making this world a better place to live. They share their warmth in impactful service from serving on the local school board, to cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina, to serving in their schools, churches, and libraries.
Speaking of her children, Anna Beth said, “I hope that they … know that the world can always improve by just getting involved, being kind, and hoping to make a positive difference. My motto (which I adopted from Helen Keller) is … ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!’ Don’t be afraid to get involved; you can make a positive difference!”
Now, go ahead and build on the influence of this firecracker and ignite your own fire of powerful impact.