I love documentaries. I recently watched “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” – the film is about Kevin Clash, the man behind Sesame Street’s beloved red puppet. Kevin is African-American and was born in inner-city Baltimore in 1960. At a very early age, he was captivated by the puppets on children’s television.
Kevin started making his own puppets and performed in his living room, at family gatherings and eventually at community events. His parents were supportive, but he was teased a lot at school and faced other challenges. Now in his 50’s and with a net worth of several million dollars, Kevin probably doesn’t get teased anymore!
What does a Sesame Street puppeteer have to do with the LFCC Foundation?
I think Reverend Howard Thurman (1899-1981) said it best:Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because the world needs people who have come alive.
The world really does need people who have come alive and who are following their passion – not only in their career choices but also in their charitable choices. Philanthropy is energizing. It should make you feel good.
I certainly feel a boost after volunteering or donating money to an organization that I believe in. It is so rewarding when the LFCC Foundation is able to connect donors with the programs and the college they care about. The generosity of our donors has certainly improved the lives of many students, and I hope our donors feel energized as well.
Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a forum designed to help participants better understand the issue of homelessness in our local community. As I sat and listened to the presentations, I was struck by several things. First, it’s amazing what you can learn is happening in your community when you proactively go after the information. From my sheltered perspective, I underestimated how big the problem was right in our backyard. Along those lines, homelessness is a lot closer than we realize. In a culture where we focus on spending and not saving, too many of us are at risk of losing our houses within months of losing a job or having a family member fall ill with a serious medical illness.
Second, there are so many kind and generous people who work so hard for little recognition and little pay to make sure that everyone who shares our community is taken care of. The services they offer range from soup kitchens and meals to clothes to showers to job placement to so much more. Still, they are constantly looking for even more ways to help this community feel valued and hold onto the hope that things will take a turn for the better.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, I found myself thinking that now that I was aware of the need, I had gifts to offer that might be able to help. Whether it’s taking the time to host a workshop or just sit and socialize with folks, or raising money to help offer services, or even donating clothing I no longer wear, I can make a difference. We all can.
I share this story because it started to make me think about how many gifts each of us has to share with the community around us. It may not always be about the ability to write a check (although your dollars certainly make an impact). It may be about leveraging the other resources at your fingertips and putting them to work to improve the community. While I hope you’ll pick the LFCC Foundation as your partner, all that really matters is that you choose someone or something that you’re passionate about and go start to make a difference.
For those of us who work on a college campus, May is the most exciting time of the year. Why? Because we watch many of our wonderful students receive their college diploma! In my opinion, commencement ranks right up there with Christmas!
Community colleges are so special because our doors are open to everyone in the community. A 19-year old high school graduate recently told me she is going to change the world as a nurse in the Sudan. Did you know that a 91-year old man is currently taking English classes at LFCC and is writing a book?
I am reminded of the expression “All Roads Are Good.” Our students have definitely travelled down many roads to arrive at LFCC. Some have been relatively easy, scenic roads. Other roads have been much, much longer, with some unexpected detours, dead-ends, and wrong turns.
And now, for about 800 students, we celebrate that these many roads have led to a college diploma. I am thankful to our donors who helped many students through scholarships. I am thankful to our faculty and staff who give our students so much personal attention.
We are so proud of our graduates and hope that the road after LFCC is paved with happiness and even more learning!