Years ago, I was having girls’ night out with friends to have fun and catch up. We went to dinner and a movie. While in line to purchase movie tickets, we noticed that two young men further up in line kept looking back at us. It appeared that they were talking about us.
We started feeling a bit uncomfortable, because they continued to stare at us. Other people in line began to notice as well.
A few minutes later, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I turned around and there was one of the young men who had been staring at us. I smiled and said, “Yes, can I help you?” He said, “Mrs. Benita, I can’t believe you don’t recognize me! You kept me in your daycare when I was younger.”
There I stood in shock, looking at this handsome, well-groomed 20-something-year-old man with a full mustache and goatee. I was overwhelmed with emotion, because I did remember him. He and his siblings had come to me during an unstable, broken time in their lives when they had simply needed someone to care.
He gave me a big bear hug and said, “Thank you for pouring into me.” There was not a dry eye in the movie theater line! At that moment, after many years in the child care industry, I understood what REAL success meant.
Giving back to the community and making a difference doesn’t always mean material or monetary means or things. During an interview, someone once asked me how I measured success. For me, success is being able to impact someone’s life with hope and inspiration. It is truly making a difference in the community and having someone return years later just to say, thank you. This is the ultimate in leadership and community building.