Two times in the last week, I have been asked, “Are you hopeful?” “And will you make it?” Yes and yes were my answers. Hope based on faith has been a major feature in my life – in fact it has been the cornerstone for quite some time. The quote, “Faith allows things to happen. It is the power that comes from a fearless heart. And when a fearless heart believes, miracles happen,” is something I live by. Hope and faith are interchangeable in my eyes, and I do believe that out of ashes miracles can happen.
With the uncertainty and angst that now fills our community, the question isn’t whether I’ll make it, or whether I’m hopeful – it’s whether we’ll make it and if we are hopeful. I can’t help but have a high degree of optimism about the future. Just making it is not a choice; and, quite frankly, it doesn’t inspire me. I’ll do one better. Alongside you, an army of community builders, I want to shape the future. Shaping anything requires that we play an active part. When you are a part of building something, it removes some of the angst because you know the quality of your craftsmanship. I hear way too often, “I don’t know where to start.” As though there is some right place, with the right people, talking about the right things, with the right understanding.
Here is what you can do. It is simple. Gather a group of your friends and agree to meet monthly to talk about things that you wouldn’t ordinarily talk about – tough things, matters of the heart. Agree to serve once a month in an area that you wouldn’t normally serve. I’ll help you if you want help. The key is not to simply go through the motions of serving. You have to be in the moment and force yourself to be conscious of the conditions around you and what created them. It is never as straight forward as it seems. Last week, I visited a skilled nursing facility that United Way supports because of your investments. Since I wouldn’t normally serve in an environment like this I asked the board chair, an influential business leader, how he got connected. He mentioned that the facility was a godsend for his family because they didn’t have many options for his cousin who needed care. For him to serve was an honor, he has learned a lot and removed some of the angst because his sleeves are rolled up.
Are you in a position to roll up your sleeves? A leader in this community reminded me a while back that to be catalytic in our context means to accelerate good things and, where possible, stall the bad things. Absent a catalyst it just simply takes more energy to achieve the same result. What if we all put our shoulders into our community’s opportunities?
In order for us to change the trajectory of a generation and our region, I’m convinced that we have to project an aspirational vision, a different vision that we collectively shape and work to achieve: Every child will succeed; every adult will be financially self-sufficient; and every neighborhood will be safe.