Great men and women don’t always start out to be great. Many times, the truly great in our society achieve greatness in the pursuit of individual goals and ideals. Last week while in Chicago, I went for a quiet walk to clear my head. Immediately, I noticed the scent of stale dank night air interrupted by the jolting sound of police sirens on the chaotic inner city streets clearly giving a sense of the economic devastation the recession has caused in many communities. As I walked the littered neighborhoods notorious for gang violence, I wondered if the economic stimulus promises would make any real difference and even if the money does trickle down to the grassroots people, will it be managed wisely on critical issues such as childcare, healthcare and education that have reached a breaking point within most communities across America.
The reality, a battle is under way but not in some distant land rather within our own communities. It is a battle for the heart and sole of our kids. It is tough for a kid growing up today to find hope, guidance, and reason as our community social structures rapidly deteriorate.
Already schools across America (for example, Chicago, Florida, and Oregon) talk of shortened four day school weeks to save money. This all comes at a time when America must develop better educated working individuals able to compete. If the traditional school and community religious support systems continue to fail, where will our kids turn t o develop the character needed to keep America great?
Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Fathers and Mothers are created, and by giving America’s at-risk youth a head start to proudly develop as our future CEO’S, entrepreneurs, and civic and corporate leaders.
They have to come in contact with a range of ‘’opportunity factors’’ and skills. These skills can be gained through education, as well as the expertise and experience of others.
The burden has now more than any time since the Great Depression, fallen upon the grassroots people in our “community villages” to mobilize collective efforts particularly focused on educating all kids.
The parents of our communities must recognize the importance of mentoring all kids to develop the character necessary to become the leaders, entrepreneurs, fathers and mothers that can successful navigate the competitive economic landscape of the future.
Until we begin to recognize that all young people can make a positive contribution to life, the public-at-large will constantly fail in our efforts to reach the most marginalized leading to dreadful scenarios. Recognizing the new direction will require sacrifice, resources, and a clear understanding by all that “no man is an island unto himself”.
We are now truly in this journey together in an economic and environmental health sense.
How can we achieve such grand dreams many cynics jest? Often we answer this question by achieving collaborative community steps on a grassroots level over time.
The concept of “Baby Steps”, each individual contribution adding to the collective su m of the whole.
In 2007, the average fee for full-time, center-based child care ranged from over $3,800 to $14,600 annually, depending on where the family lived and the age of the child. Imagine the cost savings parents in your local neighborhoods could realize by organizing shared child care, or baby-sitting groups for working parents on a rotating schedule basis.
Imagine the tremendous neighborhood benefit, if seven parents volunteered for a few hours after school; each with a specific educational talent taking turns one afternoon per week mentoring a group of kids in math, reading, writing, history, music, sports, and art.
It is through high quality, cost effective grassroots efforts that we will all achieve success resulting in truly creating the community leaders of America.
The answers we seek to complex challenges in life are often not found by throwing money at the issues but rather turning to the powerful tangible possibilities contained within the individual communities. The greatest strengths of our society will always be found in our people.
Farrah Gray is the author of The Truth Shall Make You Rich: The New Road Map to Radical Prosperity, Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success and the international best-seller Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out. He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or his web site at http://www.drfarrahgray.com/.