I won't lie. I had a childhood that most people may not of had. I grew up with 4 sisters and 2 brothers, and with parents who were still married and in love with each other. I had a house with a front & back yard, attended top schools, and even had a chauffeur. I was blessed & privileged in many ways. But I was also blessed to have parents who instilled discipline in me and my siblings and who taught us the lesson of giving back to your community through civic engagement. As a result, I have always taken time to make a conscious effort to engage in volunteerism.
This year of service, however has perhaps been the biggest and most challenging volunteer endeavor I have ever undertaken. And funny enough, I love it. Not every moment, of course, but most of it. Serving at Harlem RBI, a youth development organization in East Harlem, was a great reminder that many are not as privileged as I have been growing up. As much as I have given to the City of New York this past year, I feel the city has given me back just as much.
It is hard, but it really is about how much you put in and how much you want to capitalize on this journey and how much you want to walk away with.
And when the going gets really tough, I always remember what Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Buford says at every chance she gets, "This year really isn't about you. It's about service. It's a real sacrifice."
Public service is a large part of who I am today. This is what I live for. For me it's as simple as that.