Thursday, October 4, 2007

Say "Yes" to Opportunities Boys & Girls

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that today I would be introduced to the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA). It's amazing what wonderful surprises a day can bring. About 4 PM today, my husband and I received an offer to attend the annual Jacksonville Steak & Steak fund-raiser silent auction and dinner where the kids performed and ate with us. Each of the 400 table settings had a placemat that was an original piece of artwork from a child in the BGCA. I don't know of any restaurant, even among the best, where you can get this kind of personalization. We had front row seating and when the kids performed on the drums, it pounded a loud and powerful message into my heart.

Wake up! Feel the heartbeat of the community. Look into the eyes of the children and the adults who somehow came together this evening. Look into the children's eyes filled with hope, wonder, excitement and fear. Look into the adults' eyes filled with hope, burdens, wounds, caution and regrets.

Several years ago I attended a few personal growth workshops and each time participated in an activity that was very powerful. A group of 40-50 people stood in two circles, one inside the other, with the people on the inside circle facing people on the outside circle. We were standing fairly close to each other so that we could look into each others' eyes. We would look into each others' eyes for a few moments and then we would shift one spot to the left or right, looking into the next person's eyes without talking. Most of us didn't know each other, which meant that we were looking into the eyes of "strangers."

Once you look deep into the eyes of another person, by definition you're no longer "strangers." The other person is now a human right there in your face sharing a life moment with you. And that moment can never be taken away from your life experience or theirs. It's an opportunity and a calling.

This evening, Gary Saltsgiver of WJCT/Channel 7, asked the adults to look into the eyes of the kids that were sitting at our tables. And then he asked us to up the bid on Superbowl tickets to $3,750 and then to $4,000, and so on, to help support the kids. This was not run like a standard auction where the bidding was primarily entertainment filled with the pressure to bid in competition with other bidders. Gary asked us in a more normal cadence, instead, to bid to show our concern for the kids. I'm not a big football fan, but he really tempted me to bid, just because I wanted to offer something to the kids in the room.

This weekend my husband, Bob, is the MC for the N'spirations annual fund raiser and I'll also have the opportunity to share a message. I'm not sure of everything I want to say, but after today, I know that I want to ask everyone to look into the eyes of the people around them, not just at this event, but everywhere they go.

It's no coincidence that Bob & I ended up at the BGCA event this evening. It was a natural precursor to this weekend's N'spirations event. Once you make a firm decision to go to a certain place, commit to make it happen, and believe that it will happen, then all the pieces start to fall in place very quickly.

N'spirations has a lot in common with the BGCA. Both organizations have a mission to help kids succeed, regardless of their home life. The BGCA, however, is much more mature and has its programs nailed down. N'Spirations can probably learn a lot from the BGCA and/or link up with them.

Did you look into the eyes of others today?
How did it speak to your heart?
If you keep doing what you're doing now, how many people will reap the benefits?

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