Can I be honest with you?
Sometimes I get discouraged or overwhelmed by the load of the work that I do in service to the young people of Chicago.
Then out of the blue, I’ll run into one of my youth alumni who is doing well and overcoming challenges, or I’ll receive a phone call from a parent expressing appreciation for the effort it takes to provide alternative options for our young people, or an unexpected angel in disguise will come along to offer some “right on time” support…And it will give me fuel to persevere another day.
Ten years ago, I set out with my childhood friend and a small group of people with the intention to level the playing field for kids and young adults on Chicago’s West side. This journey has hands down been the most difficult, educational, and enriching experience I’ve ever faced. Back in my Junior Choir days, we sang a song with the lyrics, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” This is especially true when it comes to community work.
The moral of this story is:
If you know someone who is a champion of a cause that you consider to be important (especially a grassroots organization), lend them your support from time to time. You may never realize how significant your contribution of time, money, or even a strategic introduction can be.
If you happen to be the leader of one of these organizations, count it as a success if your blood, sweat & tears help to improve the life of just one person.
When all else fails, know that there is someone else somewhere out there in the trenches pulling all-nighters, making financial sacrifices, missing their child’s game just like you. It may not feel like it, but you are not alone.
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 helps socially conscious individuals and organizations bring their bright ideas to fruition.