Many are aware of the importance and relevance of it, ranging from volunteering at your neighborhood school (or a school not in your neighborhood) to taking time out for those in shelters of multiple forms (i.e. homeless, battered women and children, and other places of refuge and safe haven). Yes, we are reminded of the call to serve during the holiday season through the lenses of feeding the homeless or a canned food drive.
However, as much as we are aware and know, even for the most involved and integrated, we can always use a reminder that there is something else that you can do.
My reminder came this morning after meeting with the Fulton Leadership Academy. Inherently, there's nothing new in having a leadership academy, as there are a number that are present through multiple nonprofits as well as some schools. Likewise, there may not be anything inherently new in setting up such a program for males (in this case, grades 6-9), just as there are similar schools setup by gender (Ivy Prep Academy is one that comes to mind).
However, there is something a little different about this particular place where nearly 270 young men are provided educational opportunities that are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based. The impact that is made by the faculty, staff, administration, and board is immeasurable, as many in our meeting with a twinkle in their eye recall Thursday's talent show and the level of creativity (ranging from music, poetry, and spoken word) that reminds them (and I'm sure others in education and nonprofits) of their call to engage, equip, enlighten, and empower young people.
Perhaps it is in the intensity, focus, and dedication of their purpose and their understanding of the hurdles the young men have to clear is what makes this a little different. While the stories mirror that of what I hear through our foundation's REEL Project, again, there's something a little different about what takes place this morning. Perhaps it is being in the good company of my fraternal brothers Jay Bailey (with Operation HOPE) and Gabriel Fortson, who extended the invitation to us, and saw something in what we are doing to see what we can do to have a positive impact on others.
Anyone who has a sincere investment and stake in their immediate and interlocking communities are able to become more engaged and be more of a resource for others; once you learn of the backstory (a la VH1's "Behind the Music" or TV One's "Unsung"), your interpersonal acumen for the betterment of society and those who are a part of it just has a different feel and level of connectivity. On some level, you clearly see the need, hear the call, and even if it means you have to extend yourself a little further, you do so knowing that you are doing your part in providing others in principle the kinds of opportunities you experienced which result in you getting to where you are and becoming the person that you are today. Simply take time to investigate the landscape around you, and be it simple or more detail oriented, strongly consider being the most consistent presence that you can.
Not only does it do a community good, but it can do you some good too.