Last week while at the Youngevity convention, I had the opportunity to participate in our first ever community service day. It was amazing, and my heart was incredibly touched. I want to share the experience with you for a couple of reasons. First, I continue to be amazed at how much this company cares and that we are out there making a difference in the community. It also touched me deeply that before we got off the bus to begin our day, our company president started our day with prayer. In a world where everyone seems to be so worried about being “politically correct,” I am blessed to be in a company where faith matters as well. Also, I’m hoping to do more with this organization and just want to share why I think it matters!
My day was the morning session. This event was done through our Be The Change Foundation with Youngevity and the organization, My Story Matters. My Story Matters works to create books for kids that tell their stories. Some of the groups they work with include refugees, homeless shelters, kids with life threatening illnesses, and parents who have lost children. It’s a way to show those children that no matter what their story is, no matter if it’s been hard or easy, it matters and they are important. The process is awesome and I felt so blessed to have been a part of this event.
We began by meeting our student volunteer (on the right in the picture). Having an adult work with a young person is pretty awesome; it often helps the kids come out of their shell a bit. My volunteer was absolutely adorable and so much fun to work with. Throughout our morning, we did interviews for two kids for their books. This picture was our second interview.
Interviews bring out information from the kids about where they are from, what kind of things they like, what their family is like. It also helps them to vocalize that it’s okay to be both happy and sad, and that they are indeed strong. In the end, they are asked to select one word that they would like to use to describe themselves. During this process, pictures are also taken to go with each topic. They take serious pictures, and they take fun pictures, pictures with friends, pictures doing things they love. Then it all goes to a team of writers, who create the “draft” book. Each child gets to approve their own book. It is, after all, THEIR story and they have the final say. Once they have done that, the book is created and presented to them.
When I signed up for this event, I said I think lives will be changed. As a writer, I get the importance of stories. Being able to articulate your own story and then have it in a book as both a remembrance and something you can share seemed pretty cool to me. What I didn’t realize was just how much it would change lives–not just the kids, but ours as well. After our event, I found myself reflecting on the experience all day long, often with eyes full of tears for the things they kids had shared and for what I had seen. Now, mind you, those were not tears of sadness. Honestly, they were tears of amazement that these kids have gone through what they have and remain so resilient. I want to share two takeaways, one from each of my interviews.
In my first interview, I asked the young woman “If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?” Her response was “nothing.” I asked “so, the world is perfect?” She said, “not at all. But if I changed things, then I would never learn the lessons I’ve learned from the hard things in my life.” She is 17 years old! Her family is from Mexico and life has definitely not been easy for her. What insight for so young!
In the next interview, one of my questions posed was “You’ve had a tough life the last 10 years, what has been your greatest lesson from all of the challenges?” I was not at all prepared for this young man’s response: “I learned to always be humble.” He went on to explain that until age 7, his family was intact and they had everything they could ever want. When he was 7, his father left the family, leaving his mother to raise four children and they “had nothing.” Mind you, while some of what he talked about was “things,” most of it was not. It was simply life’s necessities. He told me “when we had things, we weren’t always kind. You never know where life will take you, so always be humble.” His spirit is amazing. He’s not bitter and he has such insight into the world and his future.
I found myself thinking what if we learned those lessons early in life? So many times, life happens to us and we become bitter, angry and cry out wondering “why me?!” We forget that with every hardship or challenge comes a lesson, something we are to learn from it. Then we find ourselves in good times, life is going great, and we sometimes forget where we came from. Some develop an attitude of superiority, never thinking that everything can disappear in an instant. Always be humble.
This event has left a lasting impression on my heart. I hope to bring an event like this to my own community. There are so many stories to tell and I hope to be able to facilitate more of that. And yes, no matter where you are, you can help. These kids are never charged for the books they create. Each book costs $25-30 to make, a very small price to give them something that lasts forever. My Story Matters makes the books through our Heritage Maker program, and you can help sponsor a book for a child. If you’d like to do that, there are two options, one for $15 and one for $25. Sponsor a book today! Every little bit helps to allow more kids to understand that, indeed, their story matters.