He is 21. His prospects for employment elsewhere are diminished by his capacity to focus. He tells me he chooses to work here because it makes a difference. I read these AARP Purpose Prize Stories and it tells of thousands being served through organizations seeded and nurtured by individuals 50 plus. My cost-benefit mind does somersaults at the idea of serving thousands in meaningful life-changing ways. I am curious about the connections, teams, dollars and obstacles that are also dynamics of each of these stories. In fact I am similarly curious the stories unknown to me about what I commit to everyday in a narrow one engagement at a time sort of way. Who may be learning better English? Who may be inspired by the science stories? Who feels connected by stories of the community? Who will get a home repaired, or better access to care, or make a life changing connection because of something they have seen on citizen-made community-oriented television?
All the time I know that it takes a few others to be committed with me to this idea of exploring, creating and informing in the public interest to keep this experiment in democracy going. But I also keenly aware that if I did not show up each day this experiment would not be all it can be and that choosing each day to ‘be present’ is good but still not enough.
Sometimes I get a call or a thank-you or a hug. But what I could do with a “purpose prize”? I would encourage the governance team to check off one strategic goal related to sustainability and finalize ownership of the property. This would enable the plan to support more programs with modest increases in staff. Maybe the hours of that 21 year old could be more than 10 per week or he to could be part of a team because it is that connection to others that is truly what this place is all about.