November 19, 2001
I've done a lot of community volunteer work over the past 25 years: volunteer fireman, youth leader, events coordinator, various offices, and various committees. It tends to wear one down over time, with no immediate rewards for all the work, time and efforts go unnoticed and unappreciated, and flat-out criticism often comes from peers who've never once contributed to their community. For about ten years I worked as a volunteer for a YMCA program where we trained teens to be DJs, complete with our own radio station. It kept me pretty busy, and the teens were certainly a challenge, but it kept me young. Eventually, the YMCA director decided our program wasn't worth keeping, since it didn't make the organization any money, so he shut it down, without our input. For years since, I've often wondered if my time spent was all wasted.
Today I was having lunch at McDonald's, and the mother of one of those Y DJ kids came in. She saw me and gave me a friendly smile and wave. Small towns can be nice that way. I thought about her son who had taken what I taught him and gone on to make practical use of his DJ skills, even while still in high school. He was an ambitious young teen, and really enjoyed the program. Tonight, while driving home from one of my committee meetings, I turned the radio on, and that young DJ came over the radio, on the local FM station. He sounded great. His early start and ambition have given him a great advantage in the business, and I think he'll do quite well. It suddenly dawned on me that those ten years were not wasted. If, during that entire ten years, this one kid had been the only one affected by something I did, then it was indeed still worth it; no regrets. Thank you, Scott, for redeeming me.