The thing about choosing a “give back” profession is that even on your lowest day, you can find some encouragement in knowing that your efforts serve a mission that is much greater than yourself.
I came into the office early today hoping to catch up on some work, but I already held in the back of my mind that despite my greatest efforts, I never seem to get caught up, to have a to-do list with every single item crossed off. It seems that even on my most productive days, inevitably something always comes up. Chalk it up to entrepreneurship, lack of resources, the nature of the business, or just plain ole adulthood? Whatever the case, progress relies on my ability to remain mission-focused, encouraged and motivated. I’d love to think that these things always come from within, but honestly, I’m grateful for the external sources of strength that I can also draw from.
This morning, I walked in to see a white board full of nouns and verbs, which were the remnants of some activity that the youth in our program did last night. On a table, I saw the beginning of the gratitude display that teens in the EEEmation and Green LUNGS programs have been working on all spring. (Remember the gratitude project?) Seeing these simple things gives me a little extra fuel to press forward, because it is a short-term tangible affirmation that we are doing what we set out to do: empower youth to find their voices, have an outlet to express themselves, and bring about social change.
It’s a reminder that what started nearly a decade ago as a notion in the hearts of Erica and me, is still alive and has grown to include others who are also passionate about this mission.
As EEE has grown, I’ve been less involved with the day-to-day program implementation and more engulfed by administrative duties. So, it means so much to be able to come in and physically SEE the fruits of my labor.
I fall short, daily. But, this was an instant pick-me-up.
Kashanna Eiland is the co-founder and Executive Director of Empowerment through Education and Exposure, a nonprofit agency that promotes post-secondary education and career opportunities for Chicago youth. She is also a Social Impact Strategist and Speaker who aims to help socially conscious individuals and organizations bring their bright ideas to fruition.