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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

50 Years Ago

Just seeing the grainy black and white quality of this photo brought back the images that flashed across our little black and white TV that day in 1961. The enormity of this inauguration, the passing of the torch to a new generation, followed by the inspiration that Kennedy's speech brought to countless Americans..... I gotta admit, it is huge to remember this piece of history and to have been there in this moment. I was 6. Granted, I don't have perfect memories of the day. What I do remember is the change in my parents. Working class, small-town children of immigrants; that's what they were. In my adult years, I've often remarked on how it is still hard for me to believe how color-blind they were, how progressive, how much they encouraged, (especially my mom) me to "give back". And as the pundits recall some of the signature roots that this speech spread.... "ask what you can do for your country".... it becomes less surprising to me when I put two and two together and realize that their vision for their children was rooted in the inspiration from this speech.
We didn't have two nickels to rub together. So, giving back was never about money, it was about time. My parents have been gone these 25-28 years. I like to think that they're somewhere realizing that they planted the seeds. For me, ever since high school, it has been about community service. I've made $$$ contributions when I can, but mostly, I gave time, in every year except those formative years when I had toddlers in my home. Looking back on it, I can proudly say that I worked hard for a lot of causes. Among them:
  • My hometown's hospital - as a candystriper
  • As a volunteer in the University hospital while going to college
  • As a Junior Achievement leader in my 20's
  • Fundraising for the Girl Scouts (non-cooky!) when they were my client
  • As a loaned exec and a campaign leader for the United Way in 3 different states
  • As the treasurer of an ecumenical coalition of programs to support homeless teens, and a halfway house for those released from prison
  • As a business development leader to bring the minority-based internship program, Inroads, to two employers
  • As a holiday advocate to adopt 40-50 families from a Tampa women's shelter each winter for five years
  • As a state finals volunteer for the Special Olympics
  • As a fund raising assistant for the Women's Centre in Tampa
  • As a call center manager for the telethon to remember and to fundraise for the heroes of 9/11
  • As a crew member for the three day walk for Breast Cancer
  • As a 3 year veteran of the SERVE program in Florida; tutoring children in reading skills in one of west Tampa's poorest areas.
  • As a member of a corporate volunteer board that finalized $300,000 in grants for nonprofit concerns in Tampa
  • As a 5 year volunteer for Eldercare, a daily call network for the elderly
  • Approaching my 4th year in volunteering in the surgical waiting room of a world-famous cancer center.

I don't have that impressive of a working resume. I peaked in banking as a Vice President in 1995, and since that time, I've had jobs with much humbler titles and in two different disciplines in Florida. When I think about what I want to be remembered for, it is for always putting my community and its needs close behind my family and my work. I'm proud of the list above. I think my mom and dad would echo that.

And I think the inspiration for it all was that speech on a cold January day in 1961, from a President, who, while flawed, was an inspiration to us all. Thank you, President Kennedy. I asked.


Bob said...

Great! And you're right, the mark you have left in the volunteer activities is singificant.

I don't remember the inauguration but the assasination is one my first "remember where you were when" memories.

Debby said...

Me, too Bob.

But how can that inauguration be 50 years ago? That would make me... oh. Never mind...

Kelly said...

You're such a good person, Quid, and I truly admire you!