Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Be the spark, fuel the fire

Last week we had a really cool experience in session and Victoria and I composed this story to share with all of our coworkers as a dose of winter time inspiration (I can use all of the winter time inspiration I can get- bring me spring now!). My supervisor, Ben, suggested I post this on my blog, which I thought was a good idea since 1. I haven't blogged since the middle of November, and 2. I tend to take a more critical approach in my blog, so it could be nice to throw some fully positive posts in there sometimes.

Before I share the story, I want to dedicate it to my supervisor, Ben, who is in his final weeks in his current position. He switching over to the development side of the organization I work with, which is absolutely awesome, but means he cannot be my supervisor anymore!

To Ben, who knew long before we ever could about the flames our sparks could cause and who supported and believed in us the entire way!

In my opinion, January is terrible. It’s cold, it’s dark, the holidays are over, and when I got up this morning the wind chill was -25. Sometimes, in these conditions, it’s hard to stay motivated or to remember why we leave the warmth of our beds in the morning.

Today, one student reminded us.

By the end of session, we had three students left (let’s just say the students are lacking some motivation too). We decided to show them the video that was made about our organization as part of an award we received in the fall. At the end of the showing, we were all in tears. The students started to reflect on the movie and then the program itself.

Victoria’s student, Kee, sat at his desk clearly deep in thought. Nearly always in his NJROTC uniform, Kee is incredibly polite, loyal, kind, and surprisingly insightful. For most of the year, his case manager told him that he would have to go to a 2-year school because his baseline ACT score was a 9 and he has a diagnosed learning disability. The day Kee got accepted to his first school was one for the memory books.

Finally ready to share his thoughts, Kee started to talk about the impact of our program. He told us that this program changes everyone’s lives, inside and out. His friends can see what he has accomplished and are inspired to make their lives better too. He thanked us for our hard work, and we told him that we couldn’t do what we do without motivated and promising students like him. His response to this was a powerful analogy. He compared himself and the other students in our program to fires and us, their coaches, to the gas that keeps the flame going. Flames can sometimes get really small, he said, and without something to keep them going, they can burn out.

Hopefully this can serve as a reminder to all of us that the work/service that we do is making a big difference. In these cold months, stay motivated and keep fueling the fire!

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