Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Pay It Forward
When I was in the fifth grade, I was reading below grade level. But my teacher helped me. She tutored me before school, after school, and sometimes during lunch in order to help me get up to speed.
A few months later, I couldn't afford to pay for the senior class trip because my foster mother wouldn't give me the money for it. She helped me again by paying my way for the trip.
When I was in eight grade, I was in this club called Show Choir, where we'd sing and dance, and travel to different states to compete against other performance groups. I couldn't afford to go to our competition in Hershey's Park, but my Show Choir director helped me raise the money to go.
A few months later when we had our end-of-year banquet and performance, no one came to pick me up at the end of the night. But my Show Choir director helped me. She had me spend the night at her apartment.
I didn't have a dress for my eight grade prom or graduation, but my guidance counselor and Show Choir director bought me two brand-new dresses, one for each occasion. Once again, they helped me.
I'm still in touch with my Show Choir direction and we sometimes have lunch or coffee together. Only now, I call her by her first name instead of her last.
When I was in high school, my guidance counselor and college advisor told me about this scholarship. I was hesitant to apply for it because I didn't think I'd get it. But they encouraged me to apply anyway. They helped me. And I invited both of them to the New York Times College Scholarship Awards Ceremony as soon as I found out that I got the scholarship.
I'm still in touch with them, and already have plans to have dinner with my high school guidance counselor when she moves back to NYC later this year.
In college, my scholarship program provided me with a peer mentor as well as an adult mentor (who was former faculty member of Columbia). They also provided me with a summer job in the field of my interest. They helped me. A lot.
During one college summer break and some weekends, I stayed at my Pastor's home because I didn't have any other place to go. There were times when I also stayed at a friend's house. That friend is now one of Aiden's Godmothers. Her mom and her, they helped me.
For the latter part of my college experience, someone took me under her wings, and invited me into her house and family. She was the first person I told when I found out I was pregnant. She helped me muster up the courage to share the news with other people. Since then, Aiden and I have spent weekends and holidays with her. We've been on vacation with her as well. I now tell people we're relatives -- blood couldn't make us any closer. She's helped me. A lot.
I was helped. And that's how I made it through.
Throughout my entire life, I was helped. And so I pay it forward. By blogging. By writing. By mentoring. By showing up to work everyday and giving 100% to my students and parents and teachers.
If you were helped, then pay it forward. Someone will be blessed by you.