The other day, a 16-year-old-ish student asked me, “what are you doing for the local community?” She had been listening intently to my story and the way co-mads came about when she decided to call me out in front of the classroom. I had been focusing on the “travel & do good” aspect of co-mads…where we travel to various U.S. cities to explore local culture and participate in a community impact project. She didn’t care about all of that. I was taken aback by her question, but I was impressed. Chances are, this student hasn’t traveled much outside of Albany and cared mostly about what co-mads was doing here in the community she calls home, for the people she calls her neighbors. Valid question.
Let’s back up a little bit. I was very fortunate and honored to be asked by Mission Accomplished Transition Services to be a part of their Power Lunch program last week at the Tony Clement Education Center in downtown Albany. During these short lunch sessions, Mission Accomplished brings in local professionals to talk to a group of high school students to help with career readiness and empowerment. Without this organization, these students may not have the resources or opportunity to be exposed to these types of conversations.
As aforementioned, I was taken aback by the question. The first thought I had was, I wish I could hire this girl. I don’t think I would’ve asked that question when I was her age. To be so young and so concerned about the people living in your own community, wow…Anyway, I started answering by talking about my involvement with the Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy of the Capital Region, how co-mads is partnering with local organizations and businesses to provide socially conscious opportunities for their members/employees, how we hold local events to build community and support local nonprofits, etc. The question and my answer reminded me how important it is to remember where you come from, to lift others up as you’re rising, and how vital my own community has been to any success I’ve ever had. My local community, the Capital Region, and its members, have shaped me (and clearly, this student) into the community-minded person I am today.
Local community is, and will continue to be, a main pillar of co-mads. Sometimes you need someone to bring you back down to earth, and that student certainly did just that…she reminded me of why I’m proud of where I’m from and the young, bright talent we have up-and-coming here. Our future is bright and I will do my best to help the Capital Region shine.