THE TRUE MEANING OF COMMUNITY.
Here is a quick story to remind us about the true meaning of community.
We hear a lot these days about recycling and repurposing items to save them from the landfill. Actually, the conversation seems to start with International World Forest Day at the end of March, then is followed by a multitude of environmentally focused holidays throughout the entire month of April.
While not everything can be recycled, there are many items that simply get overlooked in the shuffle and aren’t considered as part of the equation. Sometimes, it takes a child’s view of the world to make a difference… and that is exactly what happened with The Crayon Initiative.
Coloring The Landfills!
One day, an entrepreneur named Bryan Ware was out to dinner with his family and, as is common, was given children’s menus and a few crayons to keep the kids occupied at the table. The children asked what happens to the crayons after they leave the restaurant. Well, they did a bit of digging and found that in one day alone, over 12 million crayons are manufactured in the United States, that 45,000-75,000 broken crayons are tossed out daily, and that approximately 60 tons of paraffin wax is buried in landfills with centuries left to biodegrade at a very slow rate.
The Ware family decided to change that situation and do good in the world while helping the planet.
This was the perfect opportunity to get creative and— better yet— open up a world of art for those in need. So, they started collecting used, broken, discarded, or old crayons from friends, local businesses, and not-so-local businesses. The Ware’s backyard turned into a crayon sorting adventure as they melted down the wax to make perfectly new crayons.
Coloring Your Imagination
Today, The Crayon Initiative collects unwanted crayons from all over and recycles them into new boxes of crayons for donation to pediatric hospitals, group homes, and children in various communities who might just change the world if they only had a scratch piece of paper and some crayons to plan out the next big idea.
How many times have you wondered aloud about a seemingly random thought and gone on to think that it might just be the next big thing? This month, this spring, this year: consider what you can do to make the world a better place.
Cheers to that idea!
Here is a quick story to remind us about the true meaning of community.
Ten years after John Chhan and his wife, Stella, emigrated to the United States from Cambodia, they opened a small donut shop in the southern California town of Seal Beach. Since 1990, they arrived for work at 2:30 AM, seven days a week, to make sure there were plenty of donuts for their customers when the shop opened at 4:30 AM. They loved their community and their community loved them back.
One morning, Dawn Caviola, a shop regular of 13 years, noticed that John was alone in the shop. She asked about Stella; John told her that his wife had suffered an aneurysm and was recovering in a rehabilitation facility. Not seeing them together like she had for so many years surprised Dawn, and she posted a quick note on the social media platform Nextdoor.com to spread the word among the locals.
The community was quick to offer help, but when someone suggested they start a GoFundMe campaign to help the couple, John refused. He said that what he wanted more than money was time to be with his wife.
Word continued to spread and people of the community started lining up to buy donuts… and lots of them. Even people who didn’t eat donuts were frequenting the shop to buy a dozen, just to give them away and help support the couple. The faster the shelves clear out, the sooner that John could call it a day and close shop and visit his wife – on good days, he sold out by 8:30 AM.
His wife eventually recovered and was able to speak again and she also relearned how to feed herself. John expressed his gratitude that the community listened, responded and gave him the precious gift of time.
Sometimes the things that are most helpful result from simple gestures or small acts of kindness, born from listening to the people in our community, and given with love and respect.
Lately, there seems to be a whole lot of people talking about retirement, often because their work is no longer engaging or appealing. Well, the other day, I heard a quirky story that sort of jolted me into thinking about how we need to keep ourselves challenged so our work remains fresh. I’m sure that the story has been changed a bit with time, but the version that I heard went something like this:
Around the turn of the century, a demand for cod swept the North American seafood industry, especially on the west coast. However, there wasn’t a good way to ship the fish all the way across the country from the northern Atlantic, while still keeping it fresh.
At first, vendors tried to freeze the fish and send it by rail, the fastest means of travel at the time. Unfortunately, freezing the fish usually left it mushy and flavorless.
Then, someone decided to ship the fish live by converting railroad cars into huge saltwater aquariums. When the cod arrived at their final destination, they were alive – so freshness wasn’t an issue; but for some reason, they still ended up being mushy and tasteless no matter how they were prepared.
No business owner likes to lose money when something is in demand, so after taking some time to study the cod, a bright entrepreneur discovered that the catfish is their natural enemy out in the wild. From that idea, the shipping process was altered again: when the cod were loaded into the freight tanks, a few catfish were placed in with them. Those catfish chased the cod all the way across the country as they rode the rails out west.
When the first shipment of these cod fish was distributed, they were perfect! They had the same flavor as if they had been caught fresh and prepared on the east coast, and they maintained their flaky, buttery texture even after days of travel. Essentially, the catfish had challenged the cod and kept them active and alert.
So, getting back to the idea of keeping our work exciting when others around us are getting mushy with boredom— who or what is the catfish in your life that keeps you challenged?
A junior in high school was filling out an application for her first choice school - a small, private and prestigious college - when she came across a unique question: Are you a leader?
She considered the question carefully and then decided to be radically honest. Her answer was “No.” She was afraid that because of that answer, the college would reject her application. After a few weeks, she received unusually rapid feedback in the form of a letter from the school that read:
We would like to inform you that this year we have already reviewed more than 800 applications. So far, there will be some 432 new leaders attending our program next year. We are happy to inform you that we have accepted your application because we feel it is important that these new leaders have at least one follower.”
The best student is often someone who admits they still have a lot left to learn.
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