Days, and weeks I just could not put together details on how to coordinate something to represent some of our students, our school, our community. As always, as is so crazy, something fell into our lap and just represents what Dr. King is all about. Stay tuned for details later today on how the decision to make a difference, often falls down to a moment’s notice 🙂 Check back at this post later today to see how 2020 can be the difference want to see in others, based on our actions from day to day, that last a new year.
Humor me for a bit. Trust me, I did not get the connection at first. A few weeks ago, I returned to the Western Sussex Animal Hospital, reconnecting with a Dr. Metzner after having visited him before I left for Mexico. Oddly enough, one evening after lighting illuminaries, I ran into him across the street of my own house – almost over 7 years later – coincidences prevail. As I was waiting, I overheard an individual in front of me, asking for directions to my housing area. I perked up and sure enough, it was an older gentleman I always saw while walking the dogs in the neighborhood in the morning. I offered to lead him back to the area, realizing he had somehow found his way to the veterinary center (he had no pets), and clearly disoriented. The receptionist had written directions down, and I resolved to lead him back to his home following my appointment reservations. Over the course of the next 10 minutes, he interrupted at least three times due to his worry that someone was going to lead him back, and also due to his lack of remembering a few minutes someone, me, had offered to lead him back. This saddened me considerably.
On the way back, he lost sight of me even due to my best attempts to slow and stay within his vision – and rerouted caught him as he had cut through a smaller nearby town, drove up beside him, and signalled him to refollow me back. He seemed to recognize the one street in front of him, and did indeed find his way back with me in the lead to our neighborhood. I always noticed the small sportcar-like vehicle he drove, reminding me of the last vehicle James Dean raced in. I was in awe of his memory and yet his ability to periodically remember details such as the road he now recognized.
A few days later, on my way home from school, I spied the road closed in front of me – and did notice clearly ahead his very own car in the middle of the road, right outside of the entrance of the entrance to my neighborhood. It shook me a bit, but a few days later, wondering how he was faring as I walked past his home, a neighbor I had expressed this concern to stopped as I was walking the dogs and informed me he had taken his life. I was not really shaken. Everything that had occurred in the last few days simply came crumbling down for me and I spent the long weekend leading up to MLKing Day hibernating and contemplating all in the midst of a long to do list lingering in front of me.
The evening of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, undecided and unable to find a solid connection for an event to follow in the path set in front of us thanks to Dr. King, I received a message asking for volunteers for an event involved with the Seaford Community of Hope Project, Children & Families First, and Sussex County Health Coalition gathering that very evening. Thanks to Ms. Geisler, Ms. Burritt, Ms Betts, Mr> Jeffrey Benson, and three great students that responded withing 10 minutes (Thanks Macey, Mackenna, and Lee!) and I sat there contemplating this. The chance of this happening would have been next to mil normally, and within the same day, an opportunity presented itself. While some would see this as nothing out of the normal, it certainly surprised me, and made me realize some key aspects:
If we do not offer to go outside of our circle, there are no do overs. The regrets we might have from not acting on something will never come back to us, and no matter how little the deed, that might be the once chance to send a spark forward that will cause a further fire of activity to change everything around them. I saw this appear in the case of my neighbor, and thought this as I witnessed the interaction of the students who volunteered and were taking, interacting, and providing a respite to parents attending this gathering. During the course of the evening, you heard comments of needs for the immediate community of Seaford and so many more surrounding Seaford – the need for transportation to and from activities for youth, the need for more youth directed voices that see the needs in their own communities, the need for support that can assist in affording housing, methods to participate and have youth participate in local programs, and concern for the safety of local neighborhoods, and the health overall. Without attending this event, without being offered to be a part, without having this opening appear for the student volunteering, the youth present, the leaders offering doors of opportunity and support, all of these doors would close and not allow a few steps forwarding to strengthening the immediate community. It is more than suggesting how to offer programs for youth in the community as a symbol, but involving youth directly. It was a start.
It seemed the message and call from Dr. Martin Luther King sometimes is not as obvious as his words he vehemently shared, but is connected in ways and days before and after this symbolic day we take in stride and meaning one thing in our minds. Often, the way to supporting and making a difference appears in ways we never dreamed of initially. I am proud of the students that offered at a moment’s notice the chance to give back and make a different,- and I am sure at first they thought, no big deal. However, the faces and experiences you saw on the youth’s faces as someone was willing to take time to spend with them showed it all. Without allowing and provide caretakers time to contemplate such events, as many have little to not time to do so with working multiple jobs, grandparents playing the role of parents, and so many more issues, there are many more issues that need addressed than many realize, and it is vital for all to be involved to reach every person that needs the strength that the potential Dr. King sent out to the masses to make a change.
If I would have never reached out and led my neighbor home, I would have wondered what I could have done that day that I had not done. I felt I could have done more, what not sure, but wondered how I would feel if I would not have at least offered the small act I did that day. I see so many other opportunities that present themself, and trying to come to terms with not being able to do it all, but encouraging others to take advantage of the opportunities that will affect others, and cause them to also be able to change what can be a much brighter future for so many others, thanks to their involvement.