Todd calls me everyday around the same time when he is leaving his office to walk to the car. The conversation is pretty routine, “Hey babe, I’m on my way, what’s for dinner, how was your day, what was the highlight?” What was the highlight is my favorite part of the conversation. What went right today? Even if all you have is my ham sandwich at lunch was delicious, it is good to be able to identify a highlight.
Todd’s highlight today was he actually got a good bit of work done, yesterday he was in a bunch of meetings and that is not his favorite. He enjoys the work he does and does not like to be taken away from it.
My highlight today was unexpected.
Last night when I got home from school I felt a bit overwhelmed. I deliberately did not take a lead role on our class project this semester because I knew I did not have the time to take on such a big role. We are running a supply drive for a school in a low income area and there are a lot of working parts and pieces. Last night was an important class because it was the class where we go over the logistics for our first major supply drop off with the school. Two of the three group leaders did not show up last night. I ended up coordinating the entire thing because I was the only one with enough knowledge of the situation to do so.
Ultimately I want to do what is right for our class and the school we have partnered with but this is a lot to manage on a week where I already have a full schedule.
So today started busy. I had emails to send, phone calls to make, I had make sure everything is in order for this drop off. Once I was finished I had just enough time to make myself presentable for a 2:00 meeting in the community my colleague and I are working in.
It has been a little while since I have given an update about the work my colleague and I are doing in the other community. This is primarily because there has been no information to share. Our paper has been shared with the director, the dean and other local leaders. The next phase of our research started today.
Today we met with the principal at the local elementary school who had been helpful during our first phase. We caught up with him, filled him on how well received our initial research had been and thanked him for the part he played in our success. He asked what this next phase looked like for us and we explained that we would like to speak with more residents in the community this time around. He responded by saying that if we wanted to talk to people he would take us to meet some people. We thanked him and told him that would be really helpful. Then he said, OK then let’s go. We were surprised and thrilled. We didn’t realize he meant RIGHT NOW. He cleaned out his car, piled us in and drove us around the community.
It was incredible!! We met a family who lives just a few blocks from the school. They were very gracious and agreed to share their contact information so we could schedule a time to come back and meet with them. Next he took us to the housing projects near the school. When we interviewed him for our original paper he spoke at great length about this housing project. He talked about the impact of generational poverty and how close knit the community is. The family we met was very welcoming. They invited us in, we met all their children and talked for a little while. They also shared their contact information with us and invited us to come back and speak with them.
It was a whirlwind of an experience, all of this took place in less than an hour. It was amazing though. This principal is a man of action. He knows his community, he is involved. Everyone we met was so excited to see him, there was hugging and laughing. As we drove through the community men stood around on street corners and residents gathered on front porches, he seemed to know them all. With his window rolled down he would call out to them and they would call out to him. In a community that seems to be very skeptical of anyone viewed as an outsider he has clearly be accepted as one of their own. That is so powerful and I am so thankful to have this man vouch for us. He introduced us as his friends from UCF, they are here to teach social workers how to help. What he was saying is, I trust these people and you can too. I am so grateful for this man. He is so willing to offer his time, energy and help in ever way. He is an everyday hero.
That was my highlight. I woke up this morning grumbling because I had a lot on my plate and it was going to be a busy day. This man took time out of his day to drive us around the community, introduce us to residents and answer our questions. He had been at the school all day and had a doctor appointment when he was done with us but he still took the time. He did the extra and did not complain. He was willing and happy to do it. I needed perspective today and this man helped me with that.
I should never be grumbly about doing a little extra or having a busy day if it means the work I am doing will ultimately help someone else. The coordination I set up allows for the drop off day to run smoothly and for students and residents in need to be provided with goods. What am I grumbling about? It is easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of the big picture, I think that is where I was when I woke up this morning. I end this day with perspective and a grateful heart.