Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Doing Good in the Community
Last week, “doing good in the community” struck a chord with many. We must be willing to adjust our lens while bringing solutions that can be implemented sooner than later. Often times, servant leaders can see the issues but they need the support of others for efforts to spread the in community. They make serving others look effortless but much time, patience, and tenderness go into laboring for the greater good.
My grandfather often said, “Show me your deeds and I will show you your heart.” Let me share with you a few deeds that reveal the heart of someone who is trying to make an impact and who is trying to light a path for young girls very quietly.
At the beginning of last summer, Miss Gloria approached a group of women about mentoring young ladies. Everyone thought it was a nice idea. Gloria was dead serious. She went to work (and worked and worked) on outlining plans and activities for the girls for the school year. When we reconvened from our summer break, Gloria was ready for everyone to implement the program that we agreed we would do. (You know where this is going). In jeopardy of getting kick out of the group, I will limit the details of the fireworks behind the scenes, but I will share that a two hour meeting turned into six. “Miss Gloria” held us hostage until “she finished!” I have seen Divas show out; I was raised by several aunts, my mom, and my grandmother, so I know when to just listen and let them “finish”. Since we were not going anywhere until we agreed to agree, we agreed to move from nice idea to rolling up our sleeves.
Gloria held us accountable for taking on a project that she was very passionate about and had devoted her summer to planning activities for us to do. Since the fall, several outings have been experienced by everyone with the teen girls and their families. Last month was my turn to help out. The lesson planned was about table setting and manners. I offered to prepare lunch for their meeting. It was one of the coldest mornings in January. The Mayor’s neighborhood walking tour was scheduled and a brisk walk with our city leader was incorporated into the day. Charlotte and Carolyn also volunteered that day. Everyone in the group stepped up to the plate in some meaningful way; there was enough food and juice to feed an army for breakfast.
After the walk, the morning was spent engaging teens about manners. That was straight old school thinking and teaching. Gloria came with her table décor and finest china. She gave them a tablescape presentation that resembled a Martha Stewart’s creation. Her three helpers even asked questions and gave quick tips to remember what goes where. We also learned a few things ourselves. While talking about manners, we heard about the challenges of today’s teen.
After serving soup and salad, I packed to leave and bumped into other girls walking through the door. The day ended with lessons on walking like a lady. (Steve Harvey cannot teach that folks). When I followed up with Charlotte and Carolyn, we all mentioned how blessed we felt from that fateful day. Gloria inspired us with her dedication and we gave that precious commodity called “time” to young ladies who taught us as well. Even though the idea was Gloria, everyone shared the fruits of her planning that made it meaningful to the group.
Remembering the night we were taken hostage, Gloria was actually fighting for the good we can do in the community that is so desperately needed. She did not want us to meet with each other; she wanted us to meet with the girls. It takes a warrior to cut through cotton candy and push folks to be their best and to bring their best to the community. The seeds that are being planted in the lives of the young girls will bear fruit. As I look at photos from the Civil Rights period, young folks were often pictured with current leaders of the time. Those pictures foreshadowed their futures and showed us how an encounter can propel a person into their destiny. I have no doubt that the girls who walked with the Mayor and were taught by an activist and college professor, an attorney, and a state official on that freezing cold morning will go on to become remarkable young women in the future.
As we are seeing more and more of our culture fall by the wayside with basketball game fighting mamas and kids leaving the court to fight with mamas, we need more Glorias to be hands on examples of what a warrior means. Demeaning yourself and your community by having your entire school become synonymous with mayhem because of the actions of a few is not going to be an issue that celebrity “do gooders” will touch. Mamas and daddies cannot come to the school to discuss the situation, because the parents are trying to post bail and are banned from school properties! This is not a local problem, this spectacle is happening around the country.
Sports have long been a spring board for our young men to go to college. When some have come up short academically, but performed well in sports, they were given another avenue to enter college. Now, when your school is banned from playing sports for a few years, where does that energy and drive go now? This is not criticism or judgment; this is reality folks.
As we continue to celebrate Black History, let us not be shy about resurrecting old school thinking and teaching that can be used 365 days a year. My grandparents might sound primitive by today’s standard but their hands on approached included the little things like teaching manners and respect of person at every turn. They did not hesitate to pull in others to keep us in line. Those lessons were backed up by a pop to the lip when rules were not followed. “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” were some of our first words. Women like Gloria, Carolyn, and Charlotte attended games and would have taken pleasure in whipping us if we acted up.
I know we are living in different times and physical violence is becoming a pastime but we need more warriors now than ever to remind us of our past, to help our present day young folks look forward to having a meaningful future. We can make a difference, one child at a time.