November 25th, 2014 | John Strelecky
Doing this work, you get these wonderful, inspiring, and so completely humbling wake-up calls. They remind you of how easy your own life is and how much of a difference each of us can make. And they push you to do more. There is one which I’ll never forget.
I received an email from the principal of a school for kids between 10-18 years old. The school is for kids who’ve gone through a lot in their young lives. Many have been raised their whole life in orphanages. Others have been bounced around from family to family, sometimes living with relatives, other times neighbors or foster care. Some had been adopted, but after all they’d endured before the adoption, were struggling to cope. A lot of them have suffered abuse.
The principal had read The Why Cafe book, and felt the message of purpose and hope was something her kids really needed. We agreed on a date for the event, and when I arrived at the school, there was an auditorium full of about a hundred kids waiting for me.
During our time together, I talked about being an adventurer in life. I commended them for their courage in facing the challenges they’d encountered. I shared the concept of the Big Five for Life and the power that comes from knowing one’s purpose. I let them know that their lives were just beginning and they had so many incredible adventures ahead of them.
The kids were engaged, and enthusiastic. It was inspiring to see the light bulbs going on as they were thinking about how our conversation applied to their specific situation.
At the end of my time, the kids and I spent about twenty minutes where they could ask questions and I would answer. When the event was done, the kids swarmed the stage. They all had stories they wanted to share. Dreams they wanted to tell me about.
It was fun, we laughed a lot, and I could tell the kids had gotten a lot out of it. But in a few minutes, I was about to realize just how special it had been.
As the teachers were guiding the kids out of the auditorium, the principal came around the corner and up onto the stage. She had tears in her eyes. “Thank you,”she said. “Are you kidding,”I replied. “This was so great, thank you for inviting me.”She smiled and shook her head a little, “No,”she said. “You don’t understand.”
She then went on to ask me if I remembered a little boy who had asked me a question about Africa. I nodded, “In the back row, left hand side,”I replied.
She started to cry, “That was the first time he’s spoken in over six months.”
“His adoptive parents didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know what to do…. The reason I wasn’t here right at the end, is because I had to call and tell them.”
I’ll never forget that day, those students, and especially that little boy.
It is through your generous donations that we can be out there helping kids know they have a purpose. That their life is special. Thank you for all you do!