One of my passions in life is helping others reach their personal level of success however they define it for themselves. This past month I've had several rewarding experiences while working with clients and learned more about myself in process.
Experience One: On Saturday, May 5 the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held in downtown Las Vegas and ended at the Fremont Street Experience. I walked for my friends, those I do not know, those who survive, have lost the fight, and those constantly fighting to find a cure to end the battle against the disease. The past several years, I walked on my sorority's team, the Pink Pearls, as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated Theta Theta Omega chapter, to fulfill the premise of "one sister making a promise to another sister."
This year was different. I walked on team Downsize Fitness Las Vegas, a new gym helping chronically overweight individuals wanting to lose 50 pounds or more reach and maintain their goals. I researched the causes of obesity by race, gender and age, and how it relates to cancer; I found chronically overweight individuals are more susceptible to 60 types of cancer like endometrial, esophagus, colon, kidney and thyroid according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. I also learned several other facts I never thought about since I am not an overweight person, however I have many family members in Oklahoma who should be members of the gym. As I walked the quarter mile to meet up with my client and his gym members, I was approached by a mother and her teen daughter who was a bit overweight. The mother started a conversation by complimenting my CamelBak hydration pack then asking what I do as a career. I responded, "I'm a strategic marketer. I'm walking with my fitness client." I then told them the following facts:
As we walked for the cure, I thought about the future, the importance of good health, and how my participation this year went beyond me. I was able to share what I recently learned with others. It felt good.
Experience Two: My entire life I've been an avid reader and spent many afternoons while growing up at my public library. On Saturday, May 19, I attended an event with my new client, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Foundation, awards presentation of the Tom and Bonnie Lawyer West Las Vegas Library Academic Scholarship of seven $1,000 gift donations to exceptional students who demonstrated a love for their West Las Vegas community, as well as academic achievement and financial need. These young adults are smart! They kept high scholastic standards (lowest GPA 3.5, high 4.7 GPA) while dealing with immense struggles at home like unemployment, low wages, alcoholism, violence and life changing health issues all while giving back to the community.
The Tom and Bonnie Lawyer West Las Vegas Library Academic Scholarship was created in 2009 by former Library Foundation president Tom Lawyer in honor of the library's commitment to the community. To be eligible winners met the following criteria: demonstrated success in school, community involvement, a strong connection to the West Las Vegas Library, and a need for financial support to pursue their education goals.
As I stood and listened to philanthropist Tom Lawyer speak about each student, I remembered reading their applications and thinking "I wonder if I would have been as successful academically if I were in their situations?" They taught me that an adverse position is something that happens to a person, but does not make up who we are as individuals. They also reinforced my life motto, "Nothing and no one will determine how successful I will be in this life except for me." *Photos Courtesy of Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Foundation
Experience Three: I work with a culinary school, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas (formerly the Culinary Training Academy), the country's leading nonprofit culinary and hospitality training institute. The Academy provides food for the federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) administered by Nevada's Department of Education. This program provides free, nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer.
On Wednesday, May 23, the Academy hosted the First Grade Food Critics, a movement founded by Benjamin Brown, an elementary school teacher and food journalist to promote nutrition education, career awareness and academic development among children in at-risk schools, to taste-test two new menu items: chicken salad and fresh broccoli florets, in addition to whole wheat crackers, salad, fruit and low-fat one percent milk. After critiquing the SFSP menu they sampled a chocolate chip cookie from the cafe menu.
One thing about kids is their blatant honesty. If they don't understand or like something it will show all over their faces. It was interesting to see them experience a non-microwaved boxed lunch, which is the norm for elementary schools in Las Vegas. The fresh chicken salad was a favorite, but none ate it atop the crackers, and the broccoli was a challenge because it was raw. Although provided with a packet of ranch dressing, the kids did not think to use it as a dipping sauce.
I learned a life lesson unknowingly taught by a bunch of six-year-old students. To try new things and try them often. If I never attempt anything new how will I grow as a person?
Get involved with your clients beyond the "work" and realize the personal rewards. You just might learn something about yourself.
*Photos Courtesy of the Culinary Training Academy of Las Vegas