Saturday, January 22, 2011

Impacting America’s Youth and Communities

Today’s youth are dealing with a myriad of life changing problems, ranging from drug abuse to homelessness.  They often have no one to help mentor, inspire or reassure them as they contemplate and navigate the road known as life.  Just like many poor southern children during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I dealt with similar issues and concerns. 

My mom was twice divorced and struggled as a single parent to raise three kids. My step father was a great guy until he served two tours of duty in Vietnam, returning each time to routinely physically and verbally abuse us.  War has a unique way of changing behavior, especially when alcohol and drug addiction are added to the mix.  Many years later he apologized for the way he treated us. I sometimes still wonder how life might have been different had those things never happened?   

  I forgave my step father in order to move on with my life .. understanding that his illness had taken a toll on him as well.  Back then there were few places of solace and most folk opted not to get involved with helping families in trouble.  As a twelve year old and the oldest of three, I felt responsible for keeping my family safe while dealing with racism, gangs, a poor education and drugs. 

However, the scope and depth of these problems for young people and families today are on a scale never before witnessed.  Mostly because so many more lives are affected.  It seems that violence; sexual exploitation and economic hardship are thrown in for good measure.

Excerpt from “Moments in the Shadow of  Greatness”

I provided this excerpt to illustrate that even though my life was not perfect (as many others aren’t) I faced my challenges and disappointments.   I was able to survive them and grow up to be a positive contributor to society.  There were bumps along the way, but because of the people who
saw the potential in me, who took a chance and invested their time, faith and money on a kid they owed nothing too, I say thank you! 

Thank you George Bonds for showing me what a home should be and for Lucy Baldwin for being the mother that nurtured me and helped me understand compassion.  Thank you Fred Bridges for  
teaching me what a true work ethic was and why you should give your best at all times.  They and  countless others encouraged, reminded and motivated me to give of myself in ways that not only enhanced my quality of life, but the quality of life of others.

They gave me two words that helped carry me along the way.  These two words have shown me over the years that they can be more valuable than silver or gold.  Take them to heart and share them freely.  Add these two simple words "Hello and Thanks " to your vocabulary.  Put them into use daily and I assure you the return from them will fill your treasure chest in ways you least expect and that will truly prove to be priceless! 

If service is the rent you pay for your existence on this earth,
are you behind in your rent?

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