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Rediscovering Optimism Through Service

I almost cried yesterday. The day before that I almost did as well. Yesterday's moment came at the school where I tutor, City Academy. It was the school's annual luncheon for volunteers and donors to celebrate everything it takes to make the school the incredible place it is. What made it as emotional as it proved to be was hearing stories about the dedication people have to this place. The parents, faculty, staff, volunteers and donors, combining to create the outcomes this school has experienced is incredible to witness. I felt honored in the moment to be a part of such a dedicated community. We heard from two alumni preparing to graduate from high school. Both spoke in detail about the impact the school had on them during and after their time at the institution.

As I reflected on the dire straits that dominate the news and social media cycles of the present, I found relief and optimism in a community where many people worked towards the common goal of creating a positive impact. Together we were focused on serving and impacting a single cause.

Taking a break from tutoring for a selfie
Annual luncheon

My other emotional moment this week came the night before at T-Rex downtown. I was there for an event called "Beef and a Toast", which is programmed by a nonprofit I serve called Full Circle. The organization aims to better connect young St. Louisans to their community with the objective of making this city feel more like home. The organization exposes participants to intriguing social groups, cool venues and creates forums for understanding and supporting important civic causes. The group's executive director, Diana Zeng, a former intern of mine, lead a discussion alongside our city's newly appointed Chief Resilience Officer, Patrick Brown.

Watching a room packed with young people, discussing tough issues about my city inspired me. It was thrilling to think Diana and her team, all many years younger than me, orchestrated a complex and emotionally-charged discussion about St. Louis's history, current situation and what the path forward might look like. In that moment, I would have dared anyone to feel pessimistic about the future.

If you're in struggle these days. Pick a cause. Get active. Make an impact. I'm working hard to avoid diluting myself across too many issues. It doesn't mean I don't care about a number of things, but if I don't concentrate my efforts, I'll never move the needle. My aim is find the causes that speak to me deeply enough to put in the work to make a difference.

Go Forth Boldly

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