21 September 2010


I am home from York and an intense board meeting at York Place. It was intense for a couple of very different reasons. First, I was elected vice-chair of the board (for which I had agreed in advance, by the way). Second, the challenges facing residential treatment centers -- both in the financial arena as well as the effect seemingly capricious legislation at the state level -- were made fully clear through several thorough reports.

The good news, and there is some, comes in the ways York Place is adapting in the face of multifaceted upheaval. Staff is determined; I am optimistic. But, there is work to be done.

The chaplain at York Place, the Rev'd Scott Fleischer, made a presentation to open the meeting. Were I in a ranking mood, I'd give it a ten. While he lives the trials of the institution on a daily basis, he also works closely with children whose outlook on life is severely compromised. The point he made is universal. I know, I'll draw on it for some time.

The focus? The story of Liz Murray of "Homeless to Harvard" fame. A child of drug-addicted parents and living in New York, she found herself homeless at 14, orphaned at 16, beginning high school at 17 and "miraculously" ended up a student at Harvard. Click here to see a YouTube interview with her.

This is the quote that grabbed my attention when I heard it this morning, grabbed me to the point that I had to look it up after arriving home:

Don't look at the people around you who are doing things and think that they are made of something more than you. They've learned some stuff and they're putting it to use. And, they're probably willing to work really hard for it. But, they're not made of anything different than you are. So, don't get psyched out. As long as you're willing to work past the point where you feel you have absolutely nothing left inside you, that's perseverance.

Perseverance doesn't guarantee monumental success. Neither does it level intellectual, financial, educational playing fields. And, it doesn't transform rotten attitudes. But, I think Ms Murray is right. Pushing past what is easy or comfortable or what seems possible will reveal benefits no one can anticipate.

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